The Baltimore Ravens made a number of new coaching hires this offseason. Most of the buzz, though, has centered around Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin and Passing Game Specialist Keith Williams. However, there’s arguably an equal level of excitement about the impact and influence of one of the newest defensive assistant coaches.
Long-time NFL coach Rob Ryan was hired by the Ravens this offseason to replace Mike Macdonald as the inside linebackers coach. Macdonald went down to the college level to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan.
Ryan is the twin brother of former Ravens coach Rex Ryan, who was the team’s defensive coordinator from 2005-2008 and the son of legendary coach Buddy Ryan. He has had stints as a defensive play-caller himself for four different teams and even helped current Ravens’ Defensive Coordinator, Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, get his start in the league as an assistant coach with the then Oakland Raiders as the Linebackers Coach from 2004-2008.
In a post-practice press conference earlier this week, Harbaugh spoke about this.
“We go back a long way in terms of coaching connections, family connections, and working together when we’re working with Rex and of course, with Don and all of that,” said Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh. “So, we’ve talked a lot of football over the years.”
He’s only been around his new coworkers in Baltimore for a few months and even less than that with the players. However, just like with Martin and Williams, he’s already making a great impression with his wealth of knowledge, experience, and gregarious personality.
“Rob is a guy that is just a very, very excellent football coach. One of the best in the business defensively,” said Harbaugh.
“I just am very, very grateful that he’s a part of our staff,” said Harbaugh. “I think the players are seeing what a good job he does and how experienced he is and how energetic he is and all of it . . . He’s bringing some things to us schematically as well, of course. Yes, it’s going really well.”
The hire of a seasoned coach like Ryan will impact no individual player more than Patrick Queen. The Ravens’ 2020 first-round pick made plenty of splash plays during his rookie season and was even in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year — but he had his fair share of mistakes and miscues as well.
Heading into his second season as the MIKE linebacker, Queen showed off the strides he made in pass coverage in OTAs — which was a particular area of struggle for him in 2020. Addressing the media a few days ago, Queen stressed he is excited to be working closely with Ryan, impressed by his resume, and admires his passionate desire to help and see his players succeed.
“It’s crazy. He’s told me so many stories about when he was coaching and the guys he was coaching, and it just gives you a different perspective on life,” said Queen. “He’s a great guy, a great coach, he cares, but at the end of the day, he just wants to make us better.”
“That’s the biggest key – is him just wanting us to be great and him just caring so much, like a real father. It’s crazy that you find somebody like this at this level, and I’m just thankful for him to be here with us.”
If and when Queen and his fellow second-year inside linebacker, Malik Harrison, take a big step forward in their development in 2021, Ryan will have played a significant role in making it happen as their direct position coach. He could also be a candidate to succeed Martindale as the Ravens’ defensive play-caller in 2022 if his long-time friend gets poached in the next head coach hiring cycle.