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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Inside linebackers coach Zach Orr accepts the challenge of teaching the Ravens a job he once did at the highest level

It took a long time to get used to the idea.

Zach Orr was 25 years old—strong, fast, pulling 133 NFL ball carriers off the ground in less than a year in a 15-game season. All that, and he could not call himself a player due to a congenital neck/spine condition that increased his risk of paralysis. The Ravens, and 31 other NFL teams, were unwilling to give him the chance to put him in uniform for the 2017 season.

He was no longer a linebacker. Instead, he was a coach.

Five years later, it no longer feels strange to Orr as it rolls off his tongue. Yes, he’s too young to play. He remembers it every day when he sees his former Ravens teammate Josh Bynes, who at 32 years old is two years his senior.

But there’s no lasting identity crisis for Orr, the Ravens’ inside linebackers coach, who returned to Baltimore this year after spending a season away as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ outside linebackers coach.

“not anymore!” he said on Wednesday, when asked if he had the desire to jump into some plays. “I’ll tell you, maybe a year or two ago, I did. But now, I’m like, ‘This is crazy.’ I can’t compete with these guys right now, so I’m not itching. It’s fun… I’ve really completely transitioned into straight coaching. I know I played, but I forget That I have now played in that sense.”

Bynes is a contemporary, but some of the younger Ravens were in middle school when Orr played, a reality that boggles his mind. “I’m not even that old,” he said with a smile, reflecting on the warp speed of the NFL career treadmill.

Orr grew up with the Ravens, the only team he played for in three NFL seasons and for which he served as a trainee coach in his first four years. “It’s home,” he joked, glad he didn’t mess with the interview process when he got the chance to return from Jacksonville.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh oversaw Orr’s entire development, from his first days as a free agent.

“He’s always had that fire,” said Harbaugh. “You can always count on Zach. If you ask him for his opinion, he’s telling you, and he’ll tell you in no time. He’s happy to do that, and you appreciate it, because he’s got to be firm. believe.”

How did that fire transition from the arena to the meeting rooms where Orr must now take care of young athletes?

“I see confidence all the time, and now I see growing potential as well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s really learned the game. He [was] A very smart player, who has taken the time to study and learn the game, and has turned out to be a good teacher. He is really a good teacher. And so, he breaks things down well and presents people very well.”

Orr said that teaching was not second nature to him, although he grew up in an NFL family, watching his father Terry play tight end in Washington.

“It’s something I had to work on,” he said. “As a player, I understood the game very well, but coaching is a completely different deal. It’s not what you know, it’s what you can teach the players and what they can retain and what they know. ,

He learned by watching mentors like Harbaugh, former Ravens defensive coordinators Don “Wink” Martindale and Dean Pease, and current defensive coordinator Mike McDonald.

“I just sat and watched and watched and learned,” Orr said. “I took the little things from everyone and put my own little spin on it.”

He has earned strong reviews from the players he is working with, Bynes and 2020 first-round draft pick Patrick Queen.

“He brings energy to the living room every day; He is trying to get our attention,” Rani said. “So, just salute him for the way he is coaching. … Learning from a man who has done it at the highest level, I am very grateful.”

Queen’s performance could be a bang for a defense trying to recover from a disappointing 2021 season. Can he build on the glut of big-game talent he showed after the Ravens paired him with steady Bynes?

When Orr reviewed every snap of Queen’s 2021 tape, he saw improvement, especially on the run defense. But he believes there is more to unlock.

“I mean, the sky is the limit for him,” he said. “That’s it – God touched ‘PQ’ [with] Natural ability, and he works hard at it. Obviously, you see he’s out here every single day, and we just keep working and trying to make him better and better, because I honestly believe that [if] He keeps getting better, keeps growing, keeps working on the little details, he just might be one of the best linebackers in the National Football League.

Then there’s Bynes, the veteran who has twice found his way back to Baltimore to offer stability in the middle of the defense. He may teasely refer to Orr as “Coach Zach” and remind him of the days when he was a rookie, bringing candy to the old linebackers on the team. But he will also be a valuable co-pilot as Orr grows into his new role.

“I mean, it’s obviously wonderful to have Josh in the room, because he’s a football lover,” Orr said. “There’s a reason he’s still playing and he’s going into Year 12. He can dissect offenses, defenses, and he can speed up the game at a high level, really fast, and that’s very valuable. So, obviously, I use Josh as boy… I can’t see anything, or I can look a certain way, and he can look a certain way, [and] We can certainly talk about it and collaborate, see how he sees it and figure out what’s the best way to go about things.”


World Nation News Desk
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