The Ravens have an unexpected vacancy at defensive coordinator after electing to part ways with Don Martindale, and the club’s first interview request has gone out. Per Steve Wyche of the NFL Network (via Twitter), Baltimore has requested an interview with Cowboys defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr.
This is the second interview request for Whitt, as the Seahawks also want to have a summit with the 43-year-old for their own DC post. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is generating plenty of head coaching interest for his efforts in revamping Dallas’ defense in 2021, but it seems rival clubs also appreciate Whitt’s role in that turnaround.
Of particular interest to the Ravens is the fact that the Cowboys forced a league-best 34 turnovers last season, including 26 interceptions. Though Baltimore’s myriad injuries — including an ACL tear suffered by takeaway savant Marcus Peters just before the season started — certainly contributed to the team’s meager 15 takeaways (tied for third-fewest in the league), head coach John Harbaugh obviously wants a coordinator with a plan for dramatically increasing that total.
Whitt joined the Falcons as an assistant DBs coach in 2007, then spent 11 seasons in Green Bay, first as a defensive quality control coach, then as cornerbacks coach, then as defensive passing game coordinator. His recent history has been more nomadic, as he spent one year each with Atlanta, Cleveland, and Dallas from 2019-21, all as defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach. However, he would be in line for a promotion to Cowboys defensive coordinator if Quinn should leave for an HC gig.
In addition to some of the names mentioned as possible Martindale replacements in yesterday’s report on the matter — like Joe Cullen, Mike Macdonald, and Chris Hewitt — Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic discusses the viability of candidates like Jim Leonhard and Mike Zimmer. Zimmer, recently fired as HC of the Vikings, has generally fielded top defenses throughout his tenure as an NFL coach, but it’s unclear if he wants to become a coordinator right away, especially as he has no prior ties to Harbaugh.
Leonhard, meanwhile, was a key contributor on Harbaugh’s first Ravens team in 2008, and he has established himself as a quality defensive coordinator over the past few seasons at Wisconsin, his alma mater. But Harbaugh may want someone with prior NFL coaching experience, and Leonhard may want to stay where he is; he reportedly turned down the chance to become the Packers’ DC last year.
In related news, it sounds like Wisconsin is trying to pry Ravens tight ends coach Bobby Engram from Baltimore and hire him as its new OC. Per Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com (via Twitter), an agreement between the Badgers and Engram could be finalized soon, leaving the Ravens with a need for a new coach to lead Mark Andrews & Co.