There are still four weeks left in the 2021 regular season, but the NFL coaching carousel has already started to spin with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ firing of head coach Urban Meyer.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported Meyer’s departure from Jacksonville just after midnight on December 16, with an official statement from Jaguars owner Shad Khan confirming the firing, per NFL Network’s James Palmer.
The Jaguars already have two ex-Ravens on their coaching staff in defensive coordinator Joe Cullen and outside linebackers coach Zachary Orr.
Cullen was the defensive line coach in Baltimore from 2016-2020, during which time the Ravens allowed a league-low 314.1 yards per game, per the Jaguars’ website.
Orr spent three seasons as a Ravens linebacker before retiring due to a congenital neck/spine condition, per NFL.com, just after earning a second-team All-Pro selection for his outstanding 2016 season. He stayed in Baltimore as a defensive analyst for the Ravens until 2020, when he was hired by the Jaguars.
Martindale’s Coaching Pedigree
Martindale’s history of success in Baltimore inspired many to agree with Griffin’s take that he should be the Jaguars’ new head coach.
“If they don’t go the offensive route,” wrote SB Nation’s Jake Louque, “I couldn’t agree more.”
Per the Ravens’ website, Martindale has spent 10 seasons in Baltimore, starting as the Ravens’ linebackers coach in 2012 before a 2018 promotion to his current position of defensive coordinator. Martindale was even named Sports Illustrated’s Assistant Coach of the Year in his first season as defensive coordinator, and finished as the runner-up for the same award from the Associated Press. Under his leadership, the Ravens defense has consistently ranked among the best in the NFL in a variety of categories, included league-lows in both points and yards allowed since 2018.
But 2021 might be Martindale’s most impressive season yet. He’s lost five starters to season-ending injuries, including both of his All-Pro cornerbacks, while dealing with various game-to-game absences from key defensive backs and defensive linemen. But the Ravens have allowed 21.8 points per game, the ninth-best mark in the league through Week 15, bolstered by an NFL-best run defense that is only allowing 85.5 yards per game. Baltimore’s defense also sits among the top 3 in terms of both third down and red zone conversions.
Martindale would have the opportunity to reunite with Culley and Orr in Jacksonville as well, which could potentially tempt the 58-year-old coach to take the Jaguars job if offered.
Torrey Smith, Ravens Fans Offer Alternatives
Former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith responded to RGIII’s tweet, calling for current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich to be the Jaguars’ new head coach. After his recent Super Bowl-winning success in Tampa Bay, Leftwich was one of the first names mentioned to replace Meyer in Jacksonville.
Leftwich was selected by the Jaguars with the seventh pick in the 2003 NFL Draft and started 44 games at quarterback in Jacksonville at the start of his 10-year NFL playing career. He’s found success as a coach as well, leading the Buccaneers to top 3 offensive finishes in 2019 and 2020, and he’s on track to repeat this season as well.
Griffin called Leftwich, “Another worthy candidate.”
But Ravens fans offered a different offensive coordinator up for the Jaguars’ head coaching gig: their own.
A glance into the responses to RGIII’s original tweet about Martindale reveal that many Ravens fans would be more than happy to send current offensive coordinator Greg Roman to Jacksonville after the Ravens’ recent struggles.
Roman has been under fire since a brutal loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 10, with fans calling for his firing during a five-game stretch in which the Ravens have only averaged 16.6 points per game.
But given the Ravens’ injury issues this year, Baltimore will likely stick with Roman until the end of the season rather than throw another massive wrench into their offense. But if the Ravens can’t pick up the pace offensively, Roman’s time in Baltimore could come to an end during this offseason.