According to evening reports, the Baltimore Ravens reached a decision on how to replace their 68-year-old defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, who announced prior to the conclusion of the regular season that he would be retiring as the campaign ends. They have turned to their top in-house candidate, Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, to fill the void.
The internal promotion continues a pattern that has existed literally for as long as the franchise. Marvin Lewis was the Ravens’ first defensive coordinator as the upstart franchise got up off the ground, and since then, every defensive coordinator to follow would be culled from the assistant coaches already on staff, including Brian Billick, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano, and, finally, Pees himself.
Pees had been with the Ravens since 2010, serving two years as the linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator following Pagano’s departure. Pagano was preceded by Greg Mattison, who was the team’s linebacker’s coach. Martindale is yet another defensive coordinator coming from the ranks of former linebackers coaches. Even Lewis, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, came from a linebacker background.
Though Martindale has been coaching since the mid-80s, he did not enter the professional ranks of the NFL until 2004 when he joined the Oakland Raiders. He served as their linebackers coach for five seasons, then with the Detroit Lions in the same role for one year. He landed the defensive coordinator job with the Denver Broncos in 2010, but was let go after one year.
Following a year out of football, the Ravens brought in Martindale as their linebackers coach, and he has been in that role since then until now, with this week’s promotion. There was some belief that the team would target Pagano to return, but it’s likely that the recently-fired coach was not ready to resume such a role anyway.
Martindale is a widely-respected and highly-regarded position coach, who had even previously been interviewed for vacant head-coaching positions, so this move is by no means unexpected. His work alone is an example of that, as the Ravens have done a very good job of developing linebackers under him.
Even names such as Pernell McPhee, Albert McClellan, and Zachary Orr have Martindale’s fingerprints on them. But of course he may be best credited for developing former first-round pick C.J. Mosley into a perennial Pro Bowl selection.
With the move, the Ravens have also moved Mike Macdonald from defensive backs coach to linebackers coach. The team also has Chris Hewitt on staff as the secondary coach, so that is a redundancy. Sterling Lucas, previously a defensive administrative assistant, has been promoted to a quality control coach.