With all attention surrounding star quarterback Lamar Jackson and the franchise tag, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has made a pair of intriguing additions to his coaching staff this week.
A day after hiring former Philadelphia assistant and University of Maryland product Dennard Wilson as his new defensive backs coach, Harbaugh announced the arrival of former NFL defensive end and private pass rush coach Chuck Smith as Baltimore’s new outside linebackers coach. Wilson replaced D’Anton Lynn — the new defensive coordinator at UCLA — while Smith succeeds Rob Leonard, who departed to become the defensive line coach for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Smith spent most of his nine-year NFL playing career with Atlanta — collecting a total of 58 1/2 sacks — and doesn’t have extensive team coaching experience, but the 53-year-old nicknamed “Dr. Rush” has operated a pass-rush training program that has helped professional and college players as well as coaches for more than 20 years. His past client list is headlined by future Pro Football Hall of Famers Von Miller and Aaron Donald, and he has served as a training camp consultant for several teams, including the Ravens in 2008.
He’ll now be entrusted with further developing 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh and 2022 second-round pick David Ojabo.
“Chuck is a proven and highly-respected pass rush coach who many pro and collegiate players have sought guidance from,” Harbaugh said in a statement released by the team. “He brings unique insight, experience and passion to the Ravens, and we’re confident that he’ll have a great impact on our outside linebackers group.”
Wilson, 40, played defensive back for the Terps from 2000-03 and most recently served as the defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach for the defending NFC champion Eagles. He was a finalist for Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator opening before the Eagles ultimately hired Sean Desai to replace Jonathan Gannon.
He was highly regarded in Philadelphia where he oversaw a secondary that included cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry as well as safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Wilson, a DeMatha product from Upper Marlboro, also coached for the New York Jets and the St. Louis Rams as he now enters his 12th year as an NFL coach.
“Dennard is a proven coach who has brought the best out of his units consistently throughout his NFL career,” Harbaugh said. “His history of working with defensive backs at the highest level will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our room. We’re excited to welcome Dennard to the Ravens and know he’s looking forward to coming home to Maryland.”
The Ravens have yet to formally name a new wide receivers coach after Tee Martin became the new quarterbacks coach, but Harbaugh confirmed at last week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis that pass game specialist Keith Williams — who worked closely with Martin — would remain on the coaching staff “in some kind of role.” Former quarterbacks coach James Urban also served as a wide receivers coach with Cincinnati from 2011-17, but his future with the Ravens remains unclear.
(Updated 5:45 p.m.) Baltimore announced the hiring of former Kansas City assistant Greg Lewis as wide receivers coach. The 43-year-old served as the Chiefs’ running backs coach the last two seasons and their wide receivers coach from 2017-20. Lewis also played for the Philadelphia Eagles when Harbaugh was the special teams coordinator.
“Greg has contributed to championship-level offenses and is a proven and creative game-planner,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “His vast experience as a coach and a player will be a significant asset to our wide receivers room. A leader and effective instructor of the craft, Greg has a proven track record of developing talent and maximizing his units’ production.”