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Roundtable Reactions: Ravens and defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale mutually part ways

NFL: Baltimore Ravens Training Camp Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens and Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale have mutually agreed to part ways, according to a statement from Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh.

Below you’ll find the Baltimore Beatdown teams reaction to the news.

Kyle P. Barber

I’d say I’m a little stunned by the news. I expected the Ravens to retain Don “Wink” Martindale for one more season, considering the majority of the teams’ defensive backs were on injured reserve.

However, I’m not alone in checking out edge rushers Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue’s stats and wondering how they couldn’t replicate similar success in the stat department before signing elsewhere. After all, Ngakoue was a highly-coveted free agent that finally landed in Baltimore and many expected him to remain there. Judon was one of the Ravens premiere home-grown talents who developed from a fifth-round pick into a dominant linebacker on the outside.

The Ravens and Martindale appear to both want a shake-up, and I’m not disagreeing with it. That said, I’m curious who the team is interested in promoting or hiring for the vacant position.

Vasilis Lericos

Great defensive coordinators make lemonade. Wink was a true Raven and strong defensive coordinator but didn’t necessarily produce great results. Writing was on the wall when there was a comment made by Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh over Wink’s aggression at a post-game presser.* Time to get back in the lab and devise schemes that can rush the passer without leaving the middle of the field exposed. Takeaways are the name of the game. Modern defenses aren’t focused so much on run defense, nor should they be.

*Editor’s Note: Comment referenced has to do with Harbaugh’s comment following the Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers [Transcript]. Harbaugh said, “No, they hit zero coverage a couple times. You go to the well too many times, and they get you. That’s what happened.”

The following press conference, Harbaugh clarified that there wasn’t any ill-will [Transcript]. “So, we’re not apologizing for anything,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just that’s what happened. We went to it a few times, and they hit us a couple times. So, we’ll try to clean that up and get better at it – when we do it – and that’s what we’ll do.”

Joshua Reed

This definitely wasn’t the play caller many analysts envisioned and that countless Ravens fans hoped the team would be parting ways with unless he was hired as a head coach elsewhere.

It is quite stunning from the standpoint that his defenses have managed to rank at or near the top of the league in many key statistical categories during his tenure with none being more important than scoring, red zone and yards allowed. Martindale was remarkable with his ability to put together malleable game plans and field formidable-to-elite units despite dealing with injuries on a regular basis. I can’t hold what happened in 2021 completely against him considering both the patchwork secondary he had for most of the season and the consistent overall lack of execution on the part of his players even when he did put them in positions to succeed and make plays. One of the biggest knocks on him has been his defense’s lack of sacks and double-digit sack artists, but he always spread the wealth and kept his guys fresh by rotating them and getting his defensive backs involved with blitzes. I’ll miss his creative and exotic pressure packages and hope that whoever they hire or promote to replace him can be just as adaptable and relatable to his players as Wink was.

Dustin Cox

I am quite surprised by this move. Don “Wink” Martindale has been viewed as one of the NFL’s best defensive coordinators over the past several seasons. He was not without fault, however, and many people (including myself) have voiced displeasure regarding Martindale’s tendencies. The lack of an effective pass rush despite having quality players rushing the passer over the last few years had become an obvious issue. Za’Darius Smith, Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue have all flourished rushing the passer elsewhere while the Ravens still struggled to get home without blitzing while those players were in Baltimore. With a number of veterans hitting free agency or mulling retirement this offseason, the Ravens may be due for a major overhaul defensively.