Anthony Weaver, Rob Ryan join Ravens defensive coaching staff

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Having lost three defensive assistant coaches to promotions elsewhere since their 2020 season came to an end last weekend, the Ravens are wasting little time finding replacements.

Baltimore has hired former Houston defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver to serve as defensive line coach and run game coordinator and former NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan as inside linebackers coach. Weaver was a defensive lineman for the Ravens from 2002-05 while Ryan is the twin brother of former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

A 2002 second-round pick from Notre Dame, Weaver collected 14 1/2 sacks over a seven-year playing career before moving into coaching. The 40-year-old broke into the NFL coaching ranks when he was hired by Rex Ryan to serve as the assistant defensive line coach of the New York Jets in 2012. Weaver served as the defensive line coach in Buffalo (2013), Cleveland (2014-15), and Houston (2016-19) before being promoted to defensive coordinator for the Texans last season.

Head coach John Harbaugh praised Weaver’s coaching style prior to the Ravens’ Week 2 trip to Houston that resulted in a 33-16 win over the Texans.

“Very aggressive defense. Coach Weaver is putting together a mindset there that is an attacking-type style,” Harbaugh said. “On third down especially, they give you every kind of look, every kind of blitz. The coverages behind it are very, very aggressive — they have the players to do it too. He moves J.J. Watt around a lot, so you can see he’s thinking about matchups all the time, and I wouldn’t expect any less.

“A very well-respected coach in the league. He also believes in fundamentally sound defense and the guys being able to play fast. Those are all things you’d expect from a former Raven, of course, and he’s doing a great job.”

Rob Ryan, 58, last worked in the NFL as Washington’s inside linebackers coach in 2019 and gave current Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale his first NFL job as the linebackers coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2004. Having served as a defensive coordinator for Oakland, Cleveland, Dallas, and New Orleans over a 12-year period from 2004-15, Rob Ryan brings extensive NFL coaching experience to the defensive staff.

Martindale discussed his relationship with the Ryan family — which included the late Super Bowl-winning defensive coach Buddy Ryan — when he was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator by the Ravens in January of 2018.

“I’m good friends with Rob and Rex, and [their father] Buddy was a big influence,” Martindale said. “I called a game at Western Kentucky, and [Buddy Ryan] was standing next to me on the sideline at a playoff game. You want to talk about pressure? That was a little bit of pressure — not blitzing when he wanted to blitz. They were a big influence.”

Weaver is replacing former defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who is set to become Jacksonville’s defensive coordinator under new head coach Urban Meyer. Rob Ryan will assume at least some of the responsibilities of former linebackers coach Mike Macdonald, who recently became the new defensive coordinator at Michigan.

The Ravens continue to interview candidates to replace defensive backs coach Jesse Minter, who is set to become the new defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt. 

On Friday evening, the team released the following statement from Harbaugh on his new defensive assistants:

“Rob is a proven NFL coach who brings extensive experience to the Ravens. In addition to his passion for the game, he has an outstanding ability to connect with and teach players.

“Anthony is highly regarded throughout the NFL. As a former Ravens’ draft pick who made significant contributions while playing here, he understands the culture of our organization and the standard to which Baltimore defense is held.”