Ravens Announce Surprise Firing Of DC Don ‘Wink’ Martindale

The Baltimore Ravens had a historic collapse at the end of the 2021 season, ending the year on a six-game slide that saw them go from being positioned into the number one seed to failing to make the postseason altogether. It was the first losing streak of more than four games under John Harbaugh as head coach over the past 14 seasons.

It was also, by far, the worst run that they had ever had to close out a season, though in 2007, the year Harbaugh came on board, they did lose nine games in a row before beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the finale, in a game that meant nothing for Pittsburgh.

While so much of the slide had to do with the absence of former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, however, the Ravens also suffered a number of defensive collapses, which saw them fall outside of the top 10 both in points allowed and yards allowed, which had not happened since 2013.

Still, it was a surprise when the team announced yesterday they would be parting ways with defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, who had been in that role for the past four seasons, and had been with the team as linebackers coach since 2012.

“After several productive conversations, Don and I have agreed to move forward in separate directions”, Harbaugh said in a statement issued through the team. “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”.

The defense finished 19th in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed, ranked dead last in passing yards allowed. But they played the entire season without All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters, and they lost their other All-Pro cornerback, Marlon Humphrey, along the way, as well as starting safety DeShon Elliott.

It’s hard to play good passing defense when most of your starting secondary is on the Reserve/Injured List. They even dealt with injuries among their backups. In the end, it resulted in them surrendering over 4,700 passing yards over the course of the year and 31 passing touchdowns, with just nine interceptions.

Martindale previously interviewed for a head coaching job with the New York Giants in 2019. I don’t suspect he’ll be part of the hiring cycle this year, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he is a defensive coordinator somewhere else in 2022.

Could it be in Pittsburgh? I wouldn’t exactly count on it. While Keith Butler may well retire (by his choice or otherwise), Martindale will want to be running his own show, and head coach Mike Tomlin will intend to have a very large imprint on whatever defense they run next season.

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