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Five potential candidates to replace Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as Ravens defensive coordinator – The Denver Post

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Five potential candidates to replace Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as Ravens defensive coordinator – The Denver Post

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With the surprise announcement Friday that he had parted ways with defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has created a major hole in his staff. Harbaugh has always hired from the inside when choosing his next coordinator, but he could also look to familiar faces outside the organization.

Here is a first overview of the potential candidates:

Michael Macdonald

Harbaugh spoke about Macdonald, 34, as a future defensive coordinator when he served as a Ravens assistant from 2014-2020. Macdonald then proved he could excel in that role at the college level, working for Harbaugh’s brother , Jim, Michigan. With Macdonald at the helm, the Wolverines held their opponents to 17.4 points per game, eighth best in the nation, and introduced potential first-round picks Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Michigan had allowed 34.5 points per game the year before Macdonald arrived from Baltimore. He served as a linebackers coach for the Ravens, earning accolades for his work with individual players and for establishing communications across the defense. Macdonald’s future may hinge in part on Jim Harbaugh’s plans, with rumors circulating that young Harbaugh may be considering a return to the NFL.

Antoine Tisserand

If Harbaugh is looking to promote from within, Weaver, 41, would come with recent experience as an NFL coordinator. He led the Houston Texans defense in 2020 before joining the Ravens as running game coordinator and defensive line coach for last season. The Ravens led the league in run defense with Weaver overseeing them in that area. The Texans struggled in his only season as coordinator, ranking 30th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense. But Weaver built a stellar reputation as Houston’s defensive line coach from 2016 to 2020. Superstar defensive end JJ Watt described him as an “incredible coach” and a “great man.” Weaver played seven years in the NFL as a defensive lineman, the first four of those for the Ravens, who drafted him in the second round of Notre Dame’s 2002 draft.

Chris Hewitt

Although Hewitt, 47, has no experience as a defensive coordinator, he has coached the Ravens secondary since 2015 and coordinated the team’s pass defense for the past two seasons. The Ravens ranked last in pass defense in 2021, which could work against Hewitt despite his unit’s stellar record in previous seasons. The secondary was decimated by injuries to starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters and starting safety DeShon Elliott, but struggled to prevent explosive plays throughout the season. Hewitt has a long-standing relationship with Harbaugh, who coached him at the University of Cincinnati. He played three seasons as a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints and coached at Notre Dame and Rutgers before joining the Ravens staff in 2012. Harbaugh praised the “no frills” style of Hewitt, transferred from his playing days.

Joe Cullen

Cullen, 54, served as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 after spending the previous five seasons as the Ravens’ defensive line coach. His status in Jacksonville is up in the air after the Jaguars fired coach Urban Meyer in December of his first season. The Jaguars ranked 20th in total defense and 28th in scoring defense under Cullen’s leadership, but they sprinkled in some great performances, holding the Buffalo Bills to six points in a Week 9 upset and the Colts from Indianapolis to 11 points in a season-closing victory. . Despite a tough season in Jacksonville, top defensive players said they hope their outspoken coordinator sticks around. “I support him 100 percent,” linebacker Myles Jack told “Our defense has made progress.” Cullen also earned the respect of his players in Baltimore. He had coached the defensive line for four other NFL teams before joining the Ravens in 2016, and his experience training inside linemen could be appealing to a team that needs to rebuild its front.

Jim Leonhard

The former Ravens safety might be a wildcard candidate compared to others, but he’s built a stellar record in five seasons as a defensive coordinator for his alma mater, Wisconsin. The Badgers held opponents to 16.2 points per game, fourth-best in the nation, in 2021 and ranked in the top 10 the previous two seasons. Leonhard started 13 games for the Ravens in Harbaugh’s first season as coach and was known as a smart and versatile player during 10 NFL seasons. He has no professional coaching experience, but was a defensive coordinator candidate for the Green Bay Packers last winter.

Five potential candidates to replace Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as Ravens defensive coordinator – The Denver Post

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