Player-centric conversations have largely dominated the early part of the offseason for the Ravens. As per usual, there is much anticipation building ahead of free agency and the draft further down the line, and everyone is curious as to which players the Ravens could target.
However, ever so quietly — yet not so quietly at all — the Ravens coaching staff has been gutted over the past several weeks, to say the least. The “big three” of John Harbaugh, Greg Roman, and Don ‘Wink’ Martindale are still intact, but the remainder of the staff is set to look awfully different heading into the 2021 season.
Since the end of the 2020 season, the Ravens have seen the following coaches depart from the organization —
- David Culley
- Andy Bischoff
- Joe Cullen
- Zach Orr
- Sterling Lucas
- Brian Duker
- Jesse Minter
- Mike Macdonald
- Matt Weiss
Culley is obviously the biggest name of this group. The pass game specialist and wide receivers coach of the past two seasons is now the Head Coach for the Texans, and he nabbed Bischoff to join his staff as Houston’s new Tight Ends Coach.
Similarly, the next three coaches on the list above are also departing as a package. Joe Cullen, Baltimore’s tenured Defensive Line Coach, is heading to Jacksonville to be the Jaguars’ new Defensive Coordinator. Along with Cullen is Zach Orr and Sterling Lucas, who are both joining Cullen’s staff. Brian Duker is leaving to be a Defensive Assistant in Detroit, the same title he held in Baltimore this past season.
The last three names of the bunch are all heading to the college ranks. Jesse Minter is the new Defensive Coordinator for Vanderbilt and Mike Macdonald is the new Defensive Coordinator for Michigan. Just days ago, it was announced that Matt Weiss would also be leaving for Ann Arbor to accept a Quarterbacks Coach position — further signaling the Harbaugh-Harbaugh connection.
Macdonald has been with the Ravens since 2014 and has been the Linebackers Coach for the past three seasons. Weiss is even more tenured having been with the Ravens since 2009. For the past two seasons, he served as the Running Backs Coach.
The Ravens are no strangers to seeing coordinators and specialists leave for promotions and newfound opportunities with other teams, but never before to this extent. Having nine coaches in total from last season leave in the span of a few weeks is a substantial number.
The question begs, just how substantial will the impact of this overturn be?
This will in large part be determined by how the hired replacements for these departures fare and gel together under Harbaugh, Roman, and Martindale. The Ravens have already acted quickly to replenish some of the coaching staff, bringing on —
- Rob Ryan (Linebackers Coach)
- Jay Peterson (Assistant Linebackers Coach)
- Jason Brooks (Assistant Defensive Line Coach)
- Anthony Weaver (Defensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator)
- Keith Williams (Pass Game Specialist)
- Tee Martin (Wide Receivers Coach)
Ryan and Weaver are familiar faces with the organization and have several years of coaching experience. Jason Brooks, too, has six years of coaching under his belt.
However, the other names on the list are in the opposite mold. Jay Peterson, Keith Williams, and Tee Martin are all entering their first or second years of NFL coaching. This is unusual for a Harbaugh coaching staff, which is more often than not filled with veterans. An infusion of youth at levels could be a good thing, though. The additions of Williams and Martin, in particular, are cause for excitement. Both coaches should bring creativity and new perspective to the Ravens passing attack.
In summary, a coaching staff gutting of this magnitude is unprecedented. Is it cause for some concern? Yes, but the sky is not falling. Harbaugh deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to managing personnel and getting his staff on the same page. This will be one of his tougher challenges yet, without a doubt.
Also, while there in fact be a handful of new faces in the building, it should help that many important coaches on the staff are still returning. Not just Roman and Martindale, but also guys like Chris Horton, Joe D’Alessandris, Bobby Engram, Chris Hewitt, and James Urban.
Either way, compared to last year, the Ravens sideline will look quite different. This will definitely be an interesting development to keep an eye on heading into the 2021 season.
Marlon Humphrey summed it up quite well with this tweet:
Our first practice is going to be a meet and greet https://t.co/BgNeGhx8Xb— Marlon Humphrey (@marlon_humphrey) February 21, 2021
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