The Ravens announced the departure of Don “Wink” Martindale as defensive coordinator on Friday night, but they have already contacted defensive line coach Anthony Weaver and supporting coach Chris Hewitt to take on the job, according to a team source, directly. aware of the situation. .
The source also said that coach John Harbaugh will look for possible candidates outside the organization, but the process will intensify ahead of next week.
With the Ravens losing six games in a row at the end of the season and falling out of playoff contention, some changes were expected. But more fans wanted offensive coordinator Greg Roman fired instead of Martindale. According to a team source, Harbaugh and Martindale met several times before going their separate ways, and factors such as the length of Martindale’s contract and personal conflicts between coaches may have been factors in the move.
Martindale’s contract expired at the end of the 2022 season and he may have wanted more security. He will now be able to test the free agent market with eight head coach positions available. According to a league source, Martindale will definitely get another opportunity to become an NFL coordinator.
A team source said Martindale, 58, and Harbaugh had a major disagreement during the season, more so than in years past. In interviews, Martindale was blunt and outspoken compared to the conservative Harbaugh, who likely disliked Martindale’s verbal attacks on the Cincinnati Bengals, quarterback Joe Barrow, and coach Zach Taylor’s assault over the past two seasons.
The Bengals took offense by beating the Ravens 41–21 on December 26, when Burrow completed 37 of 46 passes for 525 yards. There was no doubt that Cincinnati deliberately increased the score. The relationship between Harbaugh and Martindale was reminiscent of Harbaugh’s interactions with former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan before the brash Ryan left to become head coach of the New York Jets in 2009.
All in all, changes were probably needed. In three of the four seasons with Martindale as defensive coordinator, the Ravens finished first, fourth, and seventh overall on defense. But in 2021, the Ravens suffered from injury, losing Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters and starting defensively for Derek Wolfe for a season in training camp, and then for a lengthy run that year defending DeSean Elliott and defenseman Marlon Humphrey.
The Ravens defense finished 25th overall and last in passing this season, passing for 278.9 yards per game. There were two major issues that Martindale failed to fix during his tenure.
First, the Ravens never really learned how to throw overhead passes, although outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Matthew Judon, and cornerback Yannick Ngakue, found success after leaving Baltimore.
Secondly, their pass cover seemed to be in disarray even when their stars were on the field. It’s one thing to be beaten physically, but it’s hard to put up with psychological mistakes when players are completely out of position. Even in good years, the minors struggled for long periods of time.
Weaver, 41, joined the Ravens as defensive line coach this season, having spent one season as defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, who had one of the best defensemen in the NFL under him. He developed close relationships with his players in Baltimore and came up with some creative moves as the Ravens once again had one of the best defensive systems in the NFL. As a quarterback, Weaver played for the Ravens from 2002 to 2005.
Hewitt, 47, has 13 years of coaching experience and led a minor team for seven years. Throughout history, the Raven teams have hired several coordinators within the organization, including Rex Ryan, Greg Mattison, Chuck Pagano, Dean Peace, and Martindale.
The Ravens may also look to Joe Cullen, their former defensive line coach, who was the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021. Mike McDonald, their former linebacker coach, had a good season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator. But the Ravens won’t take McDonald seriously unless Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh leaves for an NFL job. As of late Friday night, the Ravens had not contacted Cullen, according to a league source.
In any case, training this defense will not be easy. Above all, Peters, Humphrey and Elliot must show that they can recover from their injuries. The Ravens need an influx of young talent into their defensive line and need to find some linebackers after disappointing seasons with sophomores Patrick Quinn and Malik Harrison.
It will take some time to restore these defenses, and it was not on Martindale’s side. His contract expired at the end of next season.
Maybe free will didn’t look so bad.