Ravens Settle On Top Choice for Next Defensive Coordinator

Ravens Wink Martindale

Getty Former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale looks on during a July 2021 practice.

The Baltimore Ravens have landed on University of Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to be their next defensive coordinator following the departure of Don “Wink” Martindale on January 21.

Chris Balas of The Wolverine was the first to report that Macdonald would leave Michigan to take the vacant defensive coordinator position in Baltimore, writing that “Several sources have indicated Macdonald has spoken with Ravens coach John Harbaugh about an opening on his staff.”

Michael Cohen of the Detroit Free Press and ESPN’s Peter Thamel both confirmed that the Ravens are “targeting” Macdonald, with a deal expected to be finalized in the coming days. Such a move would be the Ravens’ third major coaching move in the last week, with Martindale leaving and head coach John Harbaugh set to extend his contract in Baltimore.

Macdonald is a natural choice for the position after spending seven seasons on the Ravens’ coaching staff from 2014 to 2020 as a defensive assistant, defensive backs coach and linebackers coach. In 2018, he even interviewed for the open defensive coordinator job in Baltimore that ultimately went to Martindale, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. 

Macdonald left Baltimore in 2021 to run the Michigan Wolverines’ defense under Jim Harbaugh, the younger brother of John Harbaugh. With Macdonald at the helm, the Michigan defense held opponents to just 17.4 points per game, the eighth-lowest mark in the nation per Sports Reference, and produced a Heisman candidate and potential no. 1 overall pick in Aidan Hutchinson.

Other Candidates for DC Job

Macdonald leads a wide field of candidates that the Ravens considered for the vacant coordinator position. Most of the names are coaches who have previously worked under Harbaugh in Baltimore, including Macdonald and ex-Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who is currently the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a potential landing spot for Martindale. Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun listed Cullen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell as two potential candidates on January 5.

Current Ravens run game coordinator and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver also interviewed for the position, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, as did New Orleans Saints secondary coach Kris Richards, per Josina Anderson of USA TodayNFL Network’s Steve Wyche also reported that the Ravens requested to interview Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Joe Whitt on January 22.

After several interviews, the Ravens appear to have decided that Macdonald is the right man for the job, with an official announcement expected soon.

Macdonald Led Defensive Turnaround At Michigan

Macdonald spent just one year as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, but he is credited with steering the Wolverines’ defensive turnaround in 2021.

After giving up 34.5 points and 434.3 yards per game in 2020, the Wolverine were one of the nation’s best defenses in 2021, with allowing just 17.4 points and 330.4 yards per game.

The Michigan defense is also expected to produce at least two first-round selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, with defensive end David Ojabo expected to be taken in the first 15 picks after Hutchinson is taken in the top 5. Safety Daxton Hill is thought to be a first- or second-round prospect, coming in at 33 on Pro Football Focus’s big board.

While Hutchinson will be gone by the Ravens’ selection at 14, Ojabo could be an option for Baltimore with that pick, especially after an Achilles injury to outside linebacker Tyus Bowser.

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