Don Martindale

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.

Ravens, DC Don Martindale Part Ways

Don Martindale will not lead the Ravens’ defense for a fifth season in 2022. The sides agreed to part ways Friday, making for an unexpected development.

The Ravens regressed defensively this season, dropping to 25th in yards allowed, but the team dealt with injuries throughout. Martindale had previously surfaced on the HC interview circuit, meeting with the Giants in 2020. The veteran defensive leader has not been connected to any jobs yet this cycle.

After several productive conversations, Don and I have agreed to move forward in separate directions,” John Harbaugh said Friday. “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’s time to pursue other opportunities. Sometimes the moment comes, and it’s the right time.”

One year remained on Martindale’s contract. The Ravens had extended their DC in 2020. The 58-year-old assistant stands to be an intriguing commodity on the market, as several teams hire new coaches ahead of staff retools. He joins Vic Fangio and Mike Zimmer as proven defensive coordinators in coaching free agency.

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.

Coaching Notes: Jags, Culley, Nagy

Things have not gone well for the Jaguars this year. Urban Meyer failed to make it through his first year as an NFL head coach, No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence has the second-worst QB rating among qualified passers, and the club has mustered just two wins against 11 losses. The good news, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, is that the Jacksonville head coaching job is considered a desirable one, and many candidates who are expected to be hot commodities in the upcoming coaching cycle are anxious to secure an interview with owner Shad Khan.

That is largely because of Lawrence, who is still considered a generational talent despite his rookie struggles. Former Eagles HC Doug Pederson is reportedly interested in the post, and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Bills OC Brian Daboll might also be attractive options for Khan given their recent work with young signal-callers. One way or another, Khan should not have any difficulty luring a top candidate to Duval, though he obviously needs to get this hire right.

Here are several other coaching-related items:

  • Jaguars interim HC Darrell Bevell will have a chance to have the interim tag removed and interview for the permanent head coaching gig. He does have Lawrence’s support, but his candidacy will depend on how the team’s offense performs down the stretch. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com expects Ravens DC Don Martindale — the architect of the Jags’ Joe Cullen-led defense — to be in the mix as well (Twitter link).
  • We recently heard that the Texans are expected to retain head coach David Culley for 2022, but GM Nick Caserio is at least considering his options, per La Canfora. Culley, a 66-year-old coach who had spent his entire career as an assistant, was the most surprising hire of the 2021 cycle, but as Houston was (and is) in the midst of a complete rebuild, the club was perhaps looking for more of a caretaker than anything else. Caserio is rumored to have his eye on one unnamed candidate for the next phase of the rebuild, and it’s not difficult to connect the dots to McDaniels. The Houston HC job may not attract many in-demand candidates for 2022, which means that Culley could get one more year at the helm. However, if McDaniels does not land his own head coaching post in the coming months, he and Caserio could reunite in Texas in 2023.
  • No surprises here, but La Canfora, in the same Culley piece linked above, says many assistants on Bears HC Matt Nagy‘s staff are operating under the assumption that they will need to find new employment at season’s end. It has been assumed that Nagy will be terminated after the season is over, though La Canfora leaves open the possibility that Nagy could get his walking papers before then so that Chicago can get a head start on the interview process.

Jets Plan To Fire Adam Gase

The expected firing of Adam Gase is on track to transpire after Week 17, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. While Gase said earlier this week he has not been notified he will be fired, the Jets’ 0-13 start essentially ensured he would not be back.

This will mark Gase’s second ouster in three seasons; the Dolphins fired him after the 2018 season. He has gone 9-22 with the Jets. Although the former successful OC led his team to upset wins over two potential playoff squads and helped the Jets hire GM Joe Douglas, the past two Jets seasons have involved controversy and continued losing.

As far as a replacement goes, the Jets appear to be looking at a wide array of candidates. Current assistants Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs OC), Matt Eberflus (Colts DC), Don Martindale (Ravens DC), Arthur Smith (Titans OC) and Brandon Staley (Rams DC) are set to be considered. As are college coaches Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Matt Campbell (Iowa State) and Dan Mullen (Florida), according to NFL.com. Harbaugh, a previous Jets candidate, appears a long shot. The former 49ers coach is finalizing an extension to stay at Michigan, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweets.

After leading the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season as head coach, Gase has seen his teams miss the past four postseason brackets. In New York, he feuded with previous GM Mike Maccagnan and was consistently connected to dissatisfaction with Le’Veon Bell‘s contract and performance. Two-plus months after cutting Bell, the Jets will move on from Gase. They were prepared to fire Gase earlier this week had the Browns upset not occurred, according to NFL.com.

The Jets already fired Gregg Williams after the polarizing defensive coordinator made a play call that cost the Jets an excellent chance at beating the Raiders. Gase and Williams feuded as well. Jets ownership sought Williams, which helped lead to then-Baylor HC Matt Rhule declining to leave the college ranks in 2019. Rhule ended up in Carolina a year later.

Gase’s Jets offense rarely generated much excitement. The team has struggled to build an offensive line and did not equip Sam Darnold well at the skill positions. As a result, the former No. 3 overall pick has regressed. And during the months in which the Jets were connected to Trevor Lawrence, Darnold frequently landed in trade rumors. As Darnold’s third season concludes, his status is in limbo. The Jets are set to hold the No. 2 overall pick in April and could well look at a quarterback to begin the post-Gase era.

Coaching Notes: Meyer, Daboll, Gase

It’s that time of year again. As the NFL regular season starts to wind down, all eyes will turn to the remaining coaching and front office decisions, and the ensuing searches to fill those vacancies. We’ll start things off with Urban Meyer, the extremely accomplished college coach who apparently could be headed to the NFL for the first time. “At least two” NFL teams have reached out to Meyer to gauge his interest, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. He writes that Meyer did not rebuff the overtures and appears to be seriously considering it, noting that the former Ohio State coach plans to make his decision about jumping to the pro ranks within the next week.

To that end, Meyer could “receive serious consideration” from the Jaguars and Lions, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, so it’s possible those are the two unspecified teams Schefter referred to. The Jags of course still have Doug Marrone leading the team, but his firing following Week 17 is all but guaranteed. La Canfora notes that Jacksonville’s search has been “noticeably quiet, writing that “with several NFL execs and agents” have noted “they have had limited contact with the Khan family” that owns the team. The Jaguars have clinched the top overall pick in April’s draft, most likely landing them Trevor Lawrence, and making them an infinitely more attractive option to coaches and executives. Meyer walked away from Ohio State after the 2018 season, and led them to a national title in 2014. He also won two national championships during his time at Florida.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has guided Josh Allen to a near MVP-level season, and has rightfully been earning a lot of praise. As such, La Canfora writes that he’s the “hottest coordinator candidate” for head coaching jobs this cycle. It’s not a major surprise, but sources told La Canfora that Daboll “will have no shortage of opportunities to interview for jobs.” La Canfora notes that the Jets, Falcons, and Jaguars could all be suitors for the former Alabama assistant. Daboll of course also spent many years on Bill Belichick’s staff with the Patriots. Still only 45, Daboll has also had a couple of stints as an NFL OC prior to Buffalo with the Browns, Dolphins, and Chiefs. Interestingly La Canfora also connects the dots between the Chargers and Daboll should they fire Anthony Lynn, noting that Los Angeles GM Tom Telesco went to high school with Daboll.
  • It’s been generally assumed that Adam Gase will be fired as Jets coach at the end of the year, but he apparently was almost let go sooner than that. La Canfora tweeted on Saturday that it was “very likely” Gase would’ve been fired today had New York lost to the Browns yesterday. Of course, the Jets pulled off their second upset in a row, buying Gase one more week as the Jets’ coach. The reason they would’ve made the move now instead of just waiting for the end of the season probably has something to do with them wanting to get started on their virtual interviews with candidates, which can’t be done until Gase is out of the building.
  • Most of the attention this cycle has understandably focused on exciting offensive minds, so the DCs out there are flying a bit more under the radar. That doesn’t mean you won’t see one land a job. Ravens defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale is “considered to be one of the top candidates this time around,” Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Martindale is in his third season as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator, and he previously won Super Bowl XLVII with the team as their linebackers coach. The Ravens once again have one of the league’s best defenses, so the buzz isn’t too shocking. Interestingly, Rapoport notes that his potential staff targets include Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliot, and former NFL head coaches Marvin Lewis and Lovie Smith. Lewis is generating head coaching interest himself, so he might not be available.

Ravens To Extend DC Don Martindale

Despite going 14-2 last season, the Ravens will return both their offensive and defensive coordinators for the 2020 season. They hope to keep defensive coordinator Don Martindale for longer than that.

The Ravens reached an extension agreement with Martindale on Saturday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a three-year deal that Rapoport’s sources initially said would make Martindale the league’s highest-paid DC, meaning that he would be taking home around $4MM per year (Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan tweeted that 2019’s top DC salary was around $3.5MM).

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that Martindale was given a significant payday but that he will actually earn $3.25MM/year (Twitter link). Therefore, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com observes, Martindale is not the league’s highest-paid DC, but he is in the top 25% of his peers.

One way or another, he has been rewarded handsomely for his success in Baltimore. While the Ravens expect Martindale to be a top candidate on the 2021 head coaching carousel, they are taking care of him in the meantime.

Martindale has been with the Ravens for eight seasons, the past two as their defensive coordinator. After a slow start in 2018, his unit took off and became one of the league’s best. The Ravens ranked fourth in defensive DVOA last season, after their 2018 unit finished third in that metric.

Baltimore stayed on that level despite losing C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency. This helped Martindale book an HC interview with the Giants, and more interest will likely come Martindale’s way next year.

The 56-year-old assistant previously served as Baltimore’s linebackers coach for six seasons, a gig that helped him ascend back to the DC level after his previous time in that role — with the 2010 Broncos — did not go well. Denver’s 2010 defense ranked last in points and yardage, and Martindale did not coach in 2011. But he spent the bulk of the last decade becoming one of the NFL’s highest-regarded assistants, and the Ravens will have the luxury of using their Martindale-Greg Roman tandem to help forge another Super Bowl push next season.

Giants To Interview Don Martindale

The Giants have set a date for their interview with Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. They’ll meet on Saturday, as Peter Schrager of FOXSports.com tweets

[RELATED: Latest On Eli Manning’s Plans]

Martindale has no head coaching experience, but he has guided Baltimore’s top-rated defense in each of the past two seasons. The league has taken notice and Martindale seems likely to land a head coaching job, if that’s what he wants. The veteran coach has expressed a desire to stay in Baltimore, but you’ll often hear a similar refrain from coordinators weeks before they accept a head coaching gig elsewhere.

If the Giants hire Martindale, he’ll reportedly tap LSU passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Joe Brady as his offensive coordinator. Martindale, naturally, would keep the majority of his focus on the other side of the ball.

The Giants need help everywhere, essentially, so they’re casting a wide net in their search. Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy are among the candidates to replace Pat Shurmur as the head coach of the G-Men.