Don Martindale

Colts Planning Second Don Martindale HC Interview

Add Don Martindale to the growing list of candidates to advance to the second round of the Colts’ head coaching search. The Colts are scheduling a second Martindale interview for this weekend, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Colts are the only team to reach out to the Giants’ defensive coordinator during this year’s hiring cycle, which continues a pattern for Martindale. Despite his success in Baltimore and now New York, Martindale has not been especially popular on the HC interview circuit. But he improved his stock a bit during his first season with the Giants.

[RELATED: Jim Irsay Still Pushing For Jeff Saturday As HC]

Despite significant issues at multiple positions coming into the season, the Giants managed to field a competent defense. The team finished 17th in points allowed, and while DVOA was less kind to Martindale’s unit (29th), the rebuilding team-turned-playoff entrant did enough to turn back a Lamar Jackson-led Ravens team, continue the Packers’ midseason swoon and deny the Vikings on back-to-back fourth-quarter drives in the wild-card round.

The Ravens did not renew Martindale’s contract after the 2021 season, his fourth as the franchise’s DC, but the Giants showed considerable interest. To prevent Martindale from exploring other DC opportunities after their interview, the Giants offered him a three-year contract. That did the trick, and Martindale joined OC Mike Kafka in being critical to Brian Daboll‘s first-year success in New York. The Giants have now seen Martindale, Kafka and quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney receive interview requests. Kafka interviewed with the Texans for a second time, but Houston looks to prefer DeMeco Ryans. The Colts also met with Kafka, but he has not yet been summoned for a second interview.

A Dan Quinntype scenario here exists, per ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan, who notes (via Twitter) the Giants could bump Martindale’s pay to convince him to stay rather than joining the Colts. Martindale, however, will turn 60 in a few months. After six years as an NFL defensive coordinator, he is running out of time to move up in the league.

As for the Colts, they have a host of candidates still in the mix for their top job. After virtual interviews, the Colts are meeting in-person with candidates the second time around. Irsay did not participate in the virtual interviews; the owner is meeting with the candidates who advance to the second round. Here are the coaches on Indianapolis’ second-interview radar:

Coaching Rumors: Payton, Flores, Evero

By far the biggest name on this year’s coaching carousel, Sean Payton looks to have seen his momentum stall a bit. While Payton is interviewing with the Cardinals today, his candidacy has not produced a second interview anywhere yet. The Panthers met with Payton this week but just hired Frank Reich. While the Texans remain on the radar for the longtime Saints HC, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com does not get the sense much momentum is present for such a partnership. The Broncos have been connected to other names recently as well, but that path may be dwindling as well. There might not be a place for Payton — as odd as that sounds, given his track record — on this year’s market, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com offers (video link)

Trade compensation being required to land the Super Bowl XLIV-winning HC, with the price varying from a first-rounder and other early picks to two first-rounders, has affected teams’ plans here. Payton, 59, has also been mentioned as waffling on this year’s lot of jobs. Returning to FOX for another year and surveying the 2024 market, when two jobs he has long been connected to (Chargers, Cowboys), could be available might be what comes out of this run of interviews. Payton remains in this year’s mix, but buzz has died down.

Here is the latest from the coaching landscape:

  • Regarding the Cardinals‘ search, Brian Flores remains firmly in the mix. GM candidates received the impression Arizona is high on the three-year Miami HC-turned-Pittsburgh linebackers coach, Fowler notes. Previously mentioned as a frontrunner — due partially to the Cards hiring ex-Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort as GM — Flores may have a right-hand man on defense lined up. Some around the league expect the ex-Dolphins HC to bring Gerald Alexander, Miami’s defensive backs coach for the past three years, with him to Arizona, per Fowler. With the Dolphins looking for a new DC, Alexander may be on the move anyway. While ESPN colleague Dan Graziano points to Vance Joseph and Aaron Glenn remaining strong candidates, Flores has generated the most buzz to this point. Flores has also interviewed for the Falcons and Vikings’ DC posts.
  • Raheem Morris booked a second HC interview with the Colts and also met with the Broncos and Texans. Should the Rams‘ DC land a second HC opportunity, Albert Breer of SI.com notes Ejiro Evero is the team’s top candidate to replace him. The Denver DC is no lock to be available. He is under contract with the Broncos, who blocked a Falcons DC interview, and has gone through second HC interviews with the Colts and Texans. Denver could pass on retaining Evero by hiring a defensive-minded coach, of course. Evero came to Denver from Los Angeles; he spent five years on Sean McVay‘s staff.
  • The Browns considered bringing in Vic Fangio for a DC interview, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes, but they stood down and ended up hiring Jim Schwartz. Cleveland having run a 4-3 defense in recent years may have been a reason for passing on a Fangio meeting, Cabot offers. Fangio has remained quite popular still, having interviewed for three DC jobs — the Dolphins, Falcons and Panthers — already.
  • The Bills are making a change to their defensive staff. They fired safeties coach Jim Salgado, Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN.com tweets. Salgado had been on McDermott’s staff throughout the head coach’s six-season tenure.
  • Giants DC Don Martindale is attached to a three-year contract, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Giants thought enough of the veteran coordinator, whom the Ravens did not bring back last year, they gave him the three-year deal as opposed to the more common two-year pact. Giants ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey also received extensive interest from other teams, with Duggan adding the Chargers joined the Panthers in offering him their ST coordinator jobs. McGaughey, who has been with the Giants since 2018, turned down a Bears interview and opted to stay and work for Brian Daboll.

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers’ hire, this year’s vacancy count sits at four. Last year’s Saints and Buccaneers moves, however, showed these job openings can emerge at unexpected points.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-30-23 (5:15pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Colts Request HC Interviews With Mike Kafka, Don Martindale, DeMeco Ryans

The Colts’ list of head coaching candidates continues to grow. The team submitted three interview requests on Monday, beginning with one for Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero).

Kafka continues to draw considerable interest in this year’s coaching cycle. The 35-year-old has also received interview requests from the Panthers and Texans, teams looking to add a bench boss with experience on the offensive side of the ball. Kafka is in the midst of his first season as an OC, but his work to date has quickly boosted his coaching stock.

After leaving the Chiefs to join Brian Daboll in New York, Kafka was surprisingly given the keys to the Giants’ offense at the start of the year. That decision certainly paid off, as the team is bound for the Divisional Round of the playoffs in no small part due to their play on that side of the ball. A resurgent Saquon Barkley has powered the team’s ground game, while quarterback Daniel Jones has erased (at least most) doubts regarding his potential as a franchise signal-caller. To little surprise, then, Kafka is firmly on several teams’ radars as they look for similar improvement in 2023.

The Giants’ other coordinator, Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, is also a target of the Colts. Indianapolis placed an interview request with him, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports tweets. This marks the first such request for the 59-year-old this year, though he has been interviewed for HC vacancies in years past. His first season with the Giants has seen the team put up average numbers at best in several categories, but the unit – much like the offense – has overperformed relative to expectations in what was expected to be a rebuilding year. One of the most highly-respected defensive coaches in the league, Martindale has nearly two decades of experience on NFL sidelines.

Lastly, Indianapolis is seeking a meeting with 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Another hugely popular name during the 2023 cycle, Ryans has a busy week ahead, with several interviews already lined up for this week prior to today’s request from the Colts. He will meet with interested teams in the build-up to San Francisco’s playoff game this Sunday, a notably different setup than that of Kafka and Martindale, who are expected to hold off on interviews this week (Twitter link via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post).

With three new names on their list, here is an updated breakdown of the Colts’ HC search:

  • Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator (Chiefs): Interviewed 1/12
  • Ejiro Evero, defensive coordinator (Broncos): Interviewed 1/12
  • Aaron Glenn, defensive coordinator (Lions): To interview 1/14
  • Jim Harbaugh, head coach (Michigan): Mentioned as candidate
  • Ben Johnson, offensive coordinator (Lions): Interviewed 1/13
  • Mike Kafka, offensive coordinator (Giants): Interview requested
  • Don Martindale, defensive coordinator (Giants): Interview requested
  • Raheem Morris, defensive coordinator (Rams): Interviewed 1/13
  • DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator (49ers): Interview requested
  • Jeff Saturday, interim head coach (Colts): Interview expected
  • Shane Steichen, offensive coordinator (Eagles): Interviewed 1/14
  • Bubba Ventrone, special teams coordinator (Colts): Interviewed 1/11

Ravens, Don Martindale Differed On Contract Structure

Don Martindale will reunite with his longtime employer for a day this week, with the Giants hosting the Ravens in Week 6. Despite injury issues at edge rusher and cornerback, the Giants will enter this matchup ranked in the top 12 in both points allowed and total defense.

Martindale, 59, had the Ravens on that level over his first three seasons in Baltimore, but last year’s injury onslaught proved too much for the team to continue its run of solid defensive play. Still, most in the Ravens organization expected Martindale to be back for a fifth season as the team’s defensive coordinator, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

We heard in January the Ravens were unwilling to extend Martindale’s contract, but Pompei adds the team did offer a team option for 2023. Martindale, whose Ravens contract ran through 2022, held out for a true extension. That led to the late-January separation.

Although the Ravens generally want their top assistants on multiyear deals, the team’s reluctance to extend such an offer to Martindale certainly reflected hesitancy to continue what had been a successful partnership. Martindale was with the Ravens for 10 years, the first six coming as their linebackers coach.

The Giants hired Martindale, whom they interviewed for their head coach position in 2020, nearly three weeks later. Former Ravens outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins followed. Big Blue was without its top edge defenders (Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari) for its first two games and has been without Leonard Williams for the past three. The Giants finished their London game — an upset victory over the Packers — without their top three corners but held on to thwart a final Aaron Rodgers drive. The blitzes Martindale became known for in Baltimore are prevalent in New York, and Sunday’s Ravens clash will bring one of Sunday’s more interesting matchups.

The Ravens moved on with Mike Macdonald, a former Martindale assistant who spent the 2021 season under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. The Ravens have also run into injury trouble at outside linebacker and corner, and Macdonald’s defense ranks 18th in points allowed and 28th in yards yielded. At 35, Macdonald is the league’s youngest active DC.

The team is moving toward having its full arsenal of edge rushers available soon, however, with Tyus Bowser and second-round pick David Ojabo returning to practice this week. It is not yet known if either will be available Sunday, with Ojabo having been viewed as needing until around the midseason point to recover from his March Achilles tear. But the team is coming off a strong defensive outing against the Bengals and should be in position to improve further once the edge rushers are all back.

Panthers’ Post-Rhule Fallout: Termination, Replacement, Trades

The NFL news circuit was set ablaze today when news broke of the firings of Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The termination of Rhule was not necessarily a surprise, as he’s been firmly on the hot seat all year and the possibility of firing Rhule had been discussed “well before” today, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, but it did create a newsworthy fallout of information that is of interest to those who follow the sport.

Many have talked about the contract implications of Rhule’s termination, alluding to the millions of dollars still remaining on his contract. While it’s completely applicable to Rhule’s situation, it doesn’t sound like it is a concern to Carolina. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted out that “Carolina is on the hook for this season, but the salaries for the ensuing seasons are offset by what his future college job pays him.” Essentially, Rhule will absolutely get his guaranteed money, but the onus won’t be on Carolina to pay it. Whenever Rhule, who is presumed to be a top college coaching candidate for next year, gets another job, his salary from the new school will offset the amount the Panthers owe him.

It was also announced that Panthers defensive passing game coordinator & secondary coach Steve Wilks will sub in as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The defensive-minded former head coach of the Cardinals has apparently already begun to make the team his own. When Panthers owner David Tepper was asked why Snow was fired, he reportedly pointed the finger at Wilks, telling reporters to direct that question to the interim head coach, according to ESPN’s David Newton.

Here are a few more fallout items from today, starting with some ideas on Rhule’s replacement:

  • The biggest nugget to come out of today concerning Carolina is that, as most NFL executives expected Rhule to lose his job, many in league circles are expecting the Panthers to start dealing veteran assets in an attempt to accrue draft capital that might make the head coaching position more attractive, according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. The Panthers currently only hold four draft picks for 2023: first-, second-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, supporting the idea that trading away veterans could improve their current situation. Trading away veterans with expensive contracts, such as star running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver Robbie Anderson, could prove troublesome, according to La Canfora, so the Panthers are reportedly willing to eat some of those salaries in order to facilitate moving those assets. Early reports claimed that the Bills have reached out about McCaffrey and that they did in the offseason, as well, according to Person, but Tom Pelissero of NFL Network clarified that, while every team will be calling about McCaffrey, the Panthers haven’t engaged in any trade talks yet. In addition to McCaffrey and Anderson, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports expects wide receiver D.J. Moore, defensive end Brian Burns, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown to be on the table.
  • Jeff Howe of The Athletic posed the question today of who might replace Rhule and offered quite a few suggestions. Howe started the list with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who took the Falcons to the Super Bowl as head coach in 2016. Next, he mentioned 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Ryans interviewed for the Vikings’ job this offseason and was expected to interview for the Raiders’, as well. The 38-year-old has rocketed up coaching boards since retiring as a player in 2015. Another name mentioned was Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who also interviewed for the Vikings last year, in addition to the Texans and Broncos. Howe went into great detail on every candidate, seeming to list anybody who may be up for a head coaching job in the next few seasons. His list included former NFL head coaches including the retired Sean Payton, Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, as well as the current interim head coach, Wilks. Other serious candidates Howe mentioned were Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The list essentially devolved into an article about anybody who may make the jump to NFL head coach in the next few seasons, pointing out “wait and see” candidates such as Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, and Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
  • One interesting name that came out of today’s rumors was former Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Joe Person of The Athletic advised that an eye be kept on Kuechly, who remains close with Wilks and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, to come back in some capacity. After retiring from a pro scout position last year, Kuechly has been working as an analyst on Panthers radio broadcasts.

Giants Hire Don Martindale As DC

For the second time today, a new defensive coordinator has been hired in a move that comes as no surprise. As many expected, the Giants have hired Don Martindale to replace Patrick Graham as the team’s DC (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN). 

[Related: Raiders Hire Patrick Graham As DC]

The 58-year-old, affectionately known by many as simply ‘Wink’, was linked to the position not long after Brian Daboll was hired as the new head coach. Once it became official that Graham was leaving to take the same position with the Raiders, Martindale had the inside track to come to New York. This isn’t the first time he was considered for a role on the Giants staff; Martindale interviewed for the HC spot two years ago, before the team ultimately chose Joe Judge.

Martindale had 18 seasons of college experience spread across five different programs before entering the NFL in 2004. He’s primarily worked as a linebackers coach, though he got his first opportunity as a DC in Denver in 2010. His longest stint, in Baltimore, began at the LBs coach position in 2012, but he took over as the team’s DC from 2018-2021. Over the first three of those four campaigns, the Ravens ranked first in the league in yards and points allowed per game, according to Schefter’s colleague Jamison Hensley (Twitter link).

2021 saw Baltimore ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball, which led to a steep statistical drop off for Martindale’s unit. Part of the issue, many feel, was his unwavering reliance on the aggressive, blitz-heavy style he has become known for. Still, his track record has this move being widely applauded.

The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec reports (via Twitter) that former Ravens OLB coach Drew Wilkins is one of potentially multiple position coaches expected to follow Martindale to New York. Doing so may be a wise move for them, as the contract Martindale is signing is reportedly a three-year pact, according to SI’s Albert Breer (Twitter link). With his preferred target in place, Daboll will have a highly experienced defensive play-caller to lean on in his inaugural season as a head coach.

 

Giants To Interview Don Martindale, Sean Desai For DC Job

With Patrick Graham heading to Las Vegas, Brian Daboll and the Giants are hunting for a new defensive coordinator. Well, it sounds like some contenders are starting to emerge. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Giants will interview Don “Wink” Martindale and Sean Desai for their defensive coordinator vacancy. The interviews will both take place today.

Martindale has been a coordinator for two teams, also serving as the Broncos’ DC during a poor 2010 season. He revamped his reputation with the Ravens, with Baltimore ranking as a top-10 defense from 2018-20. The veteran coach entered the season with lame-duck status in Baltimore, and the two sides ultimately decided to part ways. The Ravens regressed defensively this season, dropping to 25th in yards allowed, but the team dealt with injuries throughout. Before the Giants settled on Graham, “Wink” was a strong candidate for the gig, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (on Twitter).

Desai’s NFL coaching career dates back to 2013. At the age of 38, he already has an impressive amount of experience, with three different roles in the college ranks (including special teams coordinator at Boston College) and, most recently, the DC role he held with the Bears in 2021. With Matt Eberflus electing to bring a familiar face in Alan Williams with him from Indianapolis, though, Desai is in search of a new home.

One of the top young defensive minds in the coaching ranks, Desai’s unit ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed this season, despite injuries to the likes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. That success earned him interest from the Seahawks and Raiders.

Giants Eyeing Don Martindale For DC

After parting ways with the Ravens earlier this month, Don Martindale is starting to generate interest from other teams. According to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, Brian Daboll and the Giants have interest in the veteran coach for their DC vacancy.

Martindale has been a coordinator for two teams, also serving as the Broncos’ DC during a poor 2010 season. He revamped his reputation with the Ravens. Baltimore ranked as a top-10 defense from 2018-20, with Martindale’s units helping the team’s Lamar Jackson transition result in three straight playoff trips. Prior to being promoted to replace Dean Pees as Baltimore’s DC, Martindale headed up the team’s linebacking corps from 2012-17. The first of those seasons ended with the team’s second Super Bowl win.

Martindale entered the season with lame-duck status in Baltimore, and the two sides ultimately decided to part ways. The Ravens regressed defensively this season, dropping to 25th in yards allowed, but the team dealt with injuries throughout.

Current Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham could also keep his role, per Vacchiano. Serving as New York’s defensive play-caller during Joe Judge‘s tenure, Graham improved the unit considerably in 2020. The Giants ranked ninth in scoring defense, after their 2019 unit ranked 30th. But the team regressed this season, falling back to 23rd. DVOA slotted Graham’s second Giants defense 18th, however. The Graham-overseen improvement also caught the Steelers’ attention, with an interview request previously coming Graham’s way.

 

Latest On Ravens-Don Martindale Split

Don Martindale is surprisingly on the market for defensive coordinator-needy teams. Some outside interest already emerged before the Ravens moved on from their four-year defensive play-caller.

After signing a three-year extension in 2020, Martindale was set to go into a contract year. The Ravens did not offer him another extension to avoid lame-duck status, according to Albert Breer of SI.com, who adds other teams noticed this and checked on Martindale’s status. The Ravens’ defensive step back in 2021 contributed to the team passing on an extension offer (Twitter link).

The Ravens have promoted from within to fill their DC position every time the franchise has filled the job. Since Marvin Lewis‘ 2003 departure to become the Bengals’ HC, Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan, Greg Mattison, Chuck Pagano and Dean Pees climbed from within to fill the post. Martindale followed suit in 2018, rising from the team’s linebackers coach position. It is not a lock that will continue, though the external candidates on Baltimore’s radar have experience working under Martindale.

Mike Macdonald left the Ravens to become Michigan’s co-defensive coordinator last year, but Baltimore’s former linebackers coach was viewed as the likely Martindale successor before doing so, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com notes. Macdonald spent seven seasons on John Harbaugh‘s staff. Presumptive one-and-done Jaguars DC Joe Cullen, who was the Ravens’ D-line coach for five seasons before following Urban Meyer to Jacksonville, looms as another possible candidate. Internally, defensive passing-game coordinator Chris Hewitt is a surefire candidate, per Aaron Wilson of the Pro Football Network (on Twitter). Hewitt has been with the Ravens since 2012, when he took over as the team’s defensive backs coach.

Despite the Ravens’ injury-catalyzed regression on defense this season, Martindale figures to generate extensive outside interest. The 58-year-old assistant had Baltimore perched as a top-10 defense from 2018-20.