After 10 years with Ravens, Don “Wink” Martindale out as defensive coordinator

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After nearly two weeks of silence from the Ravens brass since the conclusion of a disappointing season that ended with a six-game losing streak, head coach John Harbaugh announced defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale wouldn’t return in 2022.

The organization revealed the news via its official Twitter account shortly before 6 p.m. Friday with Harbaugh’s statement saying the two had “agreed to move forward in separate directions” after several “productive” conversations. Reportedly having one year left on his contract, the 58-year-old Martindale had served as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator since 2018 and been part of the coaching staff since 2012.

“We have had a great run on defense, and I am very proud of what has been accomplished and the work he has done,” Harbaugh stated. “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.”

Leading top-10-caliber defenses in each of his first three seasons in charge, Martindale saw his group fall to 19th in points allowed, 32nd in pass defense, and 28th in defensive efficiency in a difficult 2021 campaign. Of course, the Ravens were without three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters and veteran defensive end Derek Wolfe for the entire season and lost other notable players to season-ending or multi-week injuries, a list including two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey, starting safety DeShon Elliott, nose tackle Brandon Williams, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, and veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith.

A pupil of the Buddy Ryan family, Martindale is known for his very aggressive and attacking style with the Ravens having led the NFL in blitz rate from 2018-20, according to Pro Football Reference. However, concerns had persisted for years about Baltimore’s inability to consistently generate pressure with a four-man rush, and Martindale’s defenses hadn’t forced many turnovers over his tenure.

As for his potential replacement, the Ravens haven’t gone outside the organization to hire a defensive coordinator since Marvin Lewis for their inaugural 1996 season, meaning defensive line coach and ex-Houston defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver and secondary coach Chris Hewitt should be two internal names of interest. Former Ravens linebackers coach Mike Macdonald could be another option to watch after finding much success in his first year as the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan for head coach Jim Harbaugh this past season.