Don Martindale

John Harbaugh Likely To Remain With Ravens In 2019

The Ravens’ announcement that they would retain head coach John Harbaugh in 2019 has not done much to quiet speculation concerning Harbaugh’s future in Baltimore. Indeed, we recently heard that the Dolphins are mulling a trade offer for Harbaugh, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that two teams are considering such an offer (presumably, the Dolphins are one of them). The fact that Harbaugh and the Ravens have not engaged in substantive extension talks, coupled with the fact that Harbaugh’s current contract only keeps him under club control through 2019, has kept the rumor mill churning.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Baltimore brass did speak with Harbaugh’s agent last Monday, but no real progress was made. Nonetheless, the Ravens want Harbaugh to return in 2019, and Harbaugh — despite speculation to the contrary — is perfectly content to head into next year without an extension.

Harbaugh wants to return to the Ravens and has no intention of forcing his way out. Plus, Rapoport says that Harbaugh does not really want to be traded, because he does not want the team that would acquire him to be weakened by having to send draft compensation to Baltimore. So as of right now, it sounds as though Harbaugh and the Ravens will spend a 12th year together.

Meanwhile, Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator, Don Martindale, has generated some head coaching buzz for the work he has done with the Ravens’ defense this year, though we have not heard of any interview requests for him. Per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Martindale does want to be a head coach at some point, but he is also happy to remain in Baltimore as Harbaugh’s DC as long as Harbaugh wants him to.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Big Ben, Ravens, Stefanski

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a rib injury in last week’s upset loss to the Raiders, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Big Ben actually cracked his ribs (video link). Pittsburgh was reportedly unable to make that determination during the game due to a faulty X-ray machine in Oakland, but Rapoport says the injury should not limit Roethlisberger going forward. The Steelers face a critical matchup against New England this afternoon, so they will need Roethlisberger to battle through.

The team is unlikely to have starting running back James Conner when they take on the Patriots, but Rapoport tweets that Conner should be back for next Sunday’s game in New Orleans.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • The Ravens have frequently seen their defensive coaches and coordinators obtain promotions from rival clubs, and they could see more of the same in 2019. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Baltimore defensive coordinator Don Martindale, in his first year leading the team’s defense after six years as its linebackers coach, is garnering attention around the league as a legitimate head coaching candidate. La Canfora suggests that Martindale could even replace John Harbaugh in Baltimore if the Ravens elect to part ways with Harbaugh.
  • We heard last week that plenty of teams with expected head coaching vacancies are interested in what the Ravens plan to do with Harbaugh, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the buzz around Harbaugh is continuing to build. Baltimore could retain the man who may be the hottest head coaching candidate in 2019, but it could also leverage the interest in Harbaugh’s services and try to trade him.
  • La Canfora writes that Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who was just promoted to the role earlier this week, was already being considered for head coaching jobs before he took over as Minnesota’s OC. Obviously, how the club’s offense performs down the stretch and perhaps into the playoffs will go a long way towards determining Stefanski’s 2019 prospects, but La Canfora reports that teams are conducting preliminary research on him, and a strong playoff push could solidify his chances of running his own team next season.
  • Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict suffered a concussion earlier this month, and he will miss his second consecutive game when the Bengals take on the Raiders today. As Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, Burfict is experiencing several worrying trends. 2018 marks the third consecutive year that Burfict has served a suspension to start the season and suffered a December concussion to close it out. He has now sustained a concussion in five of the last six seasons, and between the missed time for injury and for suspension, Dehner suggests that the Bengals could be ready to move on. The league is moving away from players with Burfict’s skill set, Burfict is not playing particularly well when he is on the field these days, and the club could save $6.8MM against the cap by cutting him this offseason.

 

Ravens Promote Don Martindale To DC

The Ravens announced that they have promoted Don “Wink” Martindale to the role of defensive coordinator. In related moves, the team moved defensive backs coach Mike MacDonald to linebackers coach. Don Martindale (vertical)

Martindale takes over for Dean Pees, who retired at the end of the 2017 season. After six years on staff in Baltimore, he’s getting his chance to run the show in Baltimore. “Wink” previously served as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2010 and helped coach the team’s linebacker group to its full potential.

The 54-year-old (55 in May) has big shoes to fill. In his first year as Baltimore’s DC, Pees helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory over the 49ers. This past year, Pees’ group allowed the sixth-fewest points in the NFL and generated a league-high 34 takeaways.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens DC Dean Pees Announces Retirement

On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees was expect to retire. On Monday, Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley confirmed the news to reporters (Twitter link). Dean Pees (Vertical)

In 2010, Pees joined Baltimore as the team’s linebackers coach and was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2012. In his first year on the job, Pees helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory over the 49ers in linebacker Ray Lewis’ final season with the team. In 2017, Pees’ unit allowed the sixth-fewest points and generated a league-high 34 takeaways.

On Sunday, cornerback Brandon Carr commented on Pees’ possible retirement, saying, “His fingerprints are all across this defense. Just the years that he’s been here, you’ve seen the shutouts and big-game defenses that we’ve had from his play-calling. So without him, moving forward, if it happens that way, we’re going to miss him.”

The Ravens have typically hired from within, and Mosley voiced his support for Don Martindale, who has been with the Ravens since 2012 as inside linebackers and linebackers coach. Should they go outside the organization, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora mentions that Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin would be a name to watch, assuming he does not land a head-coaching gig (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Considering Tarver, Martindale For DC

After being turned down by Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel, the 49ers have moved onto other defensive coordinator candidates, including one internal option. According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter link), San Francisco is considering its own linebackers coach, Jason Tarver, along with Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale, for the DC position.Don Martindale

[RELATED: 49ers part ways with offensive coordinator Geep Chryst]

Both Tarver and Martindale have previous experience in defensive coordinator roles, with Tarver having served as the DC across the bay for the Raiders from 2012 to 2014. Martindale, meanwhile, worked as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2010.

Neither Tarver nor Martindale appear to have any previous overlap with Chip Kelly, so the new 49ers head coach isn’t simply targeting coaches with whom he has worked before. With the two linebackers coach entering the mix for the Niners’ DC job, it looks increasingly unlikely that Eric Mangini will be retained.

A report a few days ago suggested that there was a “strong possibility” that Mangini, San Francisco’s incumbent defensive coordinator, would remain with the team. There may still a chance of that happening, particularly if Mangini is open to a demotion, but I think if he were going to keep his DC job, the club would’ve made that decision by now.

The defensive coordinator position under Kelly is viewed as a unique challenge, since his fast-paced offense means the defense will typically spend plenty of time on the field. From 2013 to 2015, Kelly’s Eagles ranked dead last in the NFL in time of possession each season. However, the Niners head coach downplayed those concerns this week, as Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.

“We get into the time of possession question and we’ve been in games where it was identical play snaps for us and our opponent,” Kelly said. “It was identical yardage for us and our opponent. It was identical first downs for us and our opponent. We won the game by seven, but they had the ball for 10 more minutes than we did.

“So all I learned is that they stand around better than we stand around. It’s still plays run. I’ve also never met a defense player that says, ‘Coach, I want you to possess the ball for the entire game so I don’t have to play.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Browns, Redskins, Jets, Giants

The Browns would like to hire Bills linebackers coach Jim O’Neil as their new defensive coordinator, but if the Bills should block O’Neil from interviewing with Cleveland, the Browns will pursue Ravens inside linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale, tweets NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Martindale served as the Broncos defensive coordinator in 2010 before joining the Ravens, and was the Raiders linebackers coach from 2004 to 2008.

Although their tenures with Baltimore never overlapped, new Browns head coach Mike Pettine worked as the Ravens outside linebackers coach in 2008 under John Harbaugh. According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, if Harbaugh vouches for Martindale, Pettine will value Harbaugh’s endorsement.

  • Newly-extended Jets head coach Rex Ryan is looking to fill out his coaching staff, and LSU special teams coach Thomas McGaughey has become a leading candidate to replace Ben Kotwica as New York’s special-teams coordinator, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. Kotwica recently left the Jets to become the Redskins special-teams coordinator.
  • Speaking of the Redskins, Washington has hired Randy Jordan to be its new running backs coach. Jordan beat out former Redskins running back and coach Ernest Byner for the post, and his hire fills the last vacant position coach job on Jay Gruden‘s staff.
  • The Giants, meanwhile, continue the overhaul of their offensive coaching staff by hiring Oregon State offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf as their new quarterbacks coach. Along with fellow new hires Ben McAdoo and Craig Johnson, Langsdorf will try to help turn around a Giants offense that struggled mightily in 2013 under the shaky hand of quarterback Eli Manning.