Rumors are already swirling about the futures of Ravens coordinators Greg Roman and Don “Wink” Martindale, and it’s no secret why teams with openings at head coach would be interested in Roman and Martindale.
The Ravens just put together a 14-2 season, during which they rushed for 3,296 yards, the top mark in NFL history, as part of a “revolutionary” offense. The Ravens also became the first team to ever average 200-plus passing yards and 200-plus rushing yards in the same season.
Baltimore’s defense did its part, too. After allowing 500-plus yards of offense in back-to-back games (Weeks 3 and 4) for the first time in franchise history, an influx of new talent helped the Ravens right the ship. Baltimore finished fourth in the league in total defense (300.6 yards per game) and third in scoring defense (17.6 points per game).
Teams around the league have noticed. Roman was granted permission to speak with the Cleveland Browns about their opening, while Martindale will reportedly interview with the New York Giants Jan. 4.
Count former NFL linebacker Kirk Morrison as one who wants to see Martindale get a shot as a head coach. Morrison, now a college football analyst for ESPN and a pre- and postgame analyst for the Los Angeles Rams, was coached by Martindale for four years in Oakland. Morrison, a third-round pick of the Raiders in 2005, played in Oakland until 2009. Martindale was the Raiders’ linebackers coach from 2004-2008.
Morrison said a head coaching opportunity is “long overdue” for Martindale. He recalled being one of the first players in the building and seeing that Martindale was already there — because he had slept at the office.
“That’s the kind of guy he is,” Morrison said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 26. “He’s going to sleep in the office and find that one play, that one formation, that one blitz that’s going to win you a football game, and I think that’s what the players buy into, because they know when your hardest worker is your head coach or your coordinator, you’re going to play hard for him because he’s going to put you in the right position to make plays.”
Martindale was the Ravens’ linebackers coach from 2012-2017 before being promoted to defensive coordinator following the 2017 season. As the team’s linebackers coach, he helped develop C.J. Mosley, who signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the New York Jets last spring, as well as Patrick Onwausor, Zach Orr and others.
Martindale’s track record as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator is sterling. He piloted last year’s No. 1-rated defense, and this year, he integrated scores of new players into the defense midseason, such as cornerback Marcus Peters, linebackers Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort and defensive linemen Domata Peko and Jihad Ward.
It’s safe to say Martindale has left his mark in Baltimore.
“He knows this community well. He knows this city,” Morrison said. “He’s bought into it, and I know he would never want to leave this organization … but I think sometimes you have to take that look at the opportunities.”
Right now, those opportunities reside with the Browns, Giants and Carolina Panthers. The Dallas Cowboys could have an opening in the coming days, too. Every one of those teams would love to experience the kind of success Martindale has helped engineer with the Ravens.
“At some point, when your guys do well, people want to bring that culture that they’ve built here in Baltimore,” Morrison said. “That’s one thing that’s infectious, right? It really is around the league, because you watch them on tape, you watch them week to week and you’re like, ‘Those guys have fun. Those guys trust. Those guys believe.’ And a lot of teams around the league we can watch, they don’t have that. Organizations are always trying to get a piece of that and bring it to their organization.”
For more from Morrison, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox