Ravens hire Mike Macdonald as eighth defensive coordinator in team history

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Less than a week after parting ways with Wink Martindale, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh didn’t have to look very far to find his new defensive coordinator.

On Thursday night, Baltimore announced the hiring of Mike Macdonald, a former Ravens defensive assistant and most recently the defensive coordinator for Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan. The 34-year-old returns to the Ravens after only a year with the Wolverines to become the eighth defensive coordinator in franchise history. Three years younger than Marvin Lewis when he was hired for the inaugural 1996 season, Macdonald becomes the youngest defensive coordinator in Ravens history.

Macdonald originally joined the Ravens in 2014 as a defensive assistant, helped coach the defensive backs in 2017, and served as linebackers coach from 2018-20, making him a very familiar “outside” hire for the organization. Ultimately, he edged out Ravens defensive assistants Anthony Weaver and Chris Hewitt as well as several other outsiders who interviewed for the job.

“Mike is one of us — a Raven through and through,” Harbaugh said in a statement released by the team. “During his initial seven seasons with us, it was evident that his leadership, intelligence, and passion would earn him the opportunity to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL. Mike has continuously proven himself, including when he led one of the country’s best defenses at Michigan last year.

“He is a proven play-caller who knows our system well. He also fully understands the standard of playing defense in Baltimore.”

In his lone season at Michigan, Macdonald guided a defense that finished eighth in the nation in points allowed per game (17.4), 20th in yards allowed per game (330.9), and 11th in red-zone defense (45.7%). He was also credited with helping star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson become a Heisman Trophy finalist with his 14-sack campaign as the Wolverines won the Big Ten for the first time since 2004 and qualified for the College Football Playoff semifinals.

A Boston native, Macdonald will now be tasked with improving an injury-plagued Ravens defense that fell to 19th in points allowed, 25th in total yards, 32nd in pass defense, 29th in takeaways, 22nd in sacks, and 28th in defensive efficiency in 2021.

The Ravens will hold Macdonald’s introductory press conference on Tuesday while Harbaugh will finally conduct his season-ending press conference on Monday afternoon. General manager Eric DeCosta will address the media next Friday, Feb. 4.