The Baltimore Ravens will be moving forward with a new defensive leader, as the organization announced Friday night that the team and defensive coordinator Don Martindale would be moving in separate directions. "Wink" Martindale has been Baltimore's defensive coordinator for the past four seasons, and is considered to be one of the best in the business. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh released a statement announcing the decision:
"After several productive conversations, Don and I have agreed to move forward in separate directions. We have had a great run on defense, and I am very proud of what has been accomplished and the work he has done. Don has been a major contributor to the success of our defense since 2012, and especially since he became defensive coordinator four years ago. He has done a great job. Now it is time to pursue other opportunities. Sometimes the moment comes, and it's the right time. I am personally grateful for our friendship and for everything he has done in Baltimore."
According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the Ravens have been reaching out to former defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who served as the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars this past season. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports that the Ravens' current defensive line coach and run-game coordinator Anthony Weaver is expected to be considered for a promotion as well.
Martindale joined the Ravens in 2012 after a one-year stint as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 2010. He worked as Baltimore's linebackers coach from 2012-17, then was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2018. In his first season as the defensive coordinator, the Ravens finished with the No. 1 defense in the NFL. The unit finished fourth overall in 2019, and then seventh overall in 2020 before dropping all the way down to 25th overall this past season.
Injuries can certainly take some of the blame for the Ravens' deficiencies on defense this past season. Several notable names finished the year on injured reserve, such as cornerback Marcus Peters, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety DeShon Elliott. The Ravens missed the playoffs this season for the first time since 2017 and finished in last place in the AFC North for the first time since 2007.
Just last offseason, La Canfora publicly wondered why Martindale wasn't receiving more hype on the coaching carousel. Now a free agent, he's sure to garner plenty of interest as a defensive coordinator.