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3 outside options the Ravens could consider for their next Defensive Coordinator

Jacksonville Jaguars v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens have traditionally looked to promote from among their own ranks whenever a position coach or coordinator position opens up due to the firing, resigning, or hiring elsewhere. This includes a mutual parting of ways, like they did with Don ‘Wink’ Martindale on Friday.

However, they’ve already requested to interview an outside candidate for their vacant defensive coordinator position, Cowboys’ secondary coach Joe Whitt, and could expand their search further in the coming weeks.

Here are three additional candidates outside of the organization that might be on their radar or next up on their interview list.

Joe Cullen

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cullen has 15 years of NFL coaching experience under his belt including five with Ravens from 2016-20 as the defensive line coach. He took over for the late Clarence Brooks, who passed away at the beginning of the 2016 season and was beloved by his players. Cullen got his first opportunity to be a play-caller/designer in Jacksonville for the Jaguars as their Defensive Coordinator for the 2021 season.

While his unit, like the team overall, didn’t fare all that well, they had some surprisingly dominant performances over formidable opponents. Led by their defense, the Jaguars pulled off a shocking upset 9-6 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 and prevented the Indianapolis Colts from punching their ticket to the playoffs with a 26-11 victory in the regular-season finale. With Jacksonville looking for a new head coach after firing Urban Myer on Dec. 16, it’s uncertain if Cullen or any of the current staff will be retained under the next regime. If he is let go, a potential reunion with the Ravens could certainly be within the realm of possibilities.

Mike MacDonald

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 34-year-old, up-and-coming coach spent 2021 in the college ranks as the Defensive Coordinator for the Big 10 champion Michigan Wolverines alongside Jim Harbaugh. Prior to that, he was on the staff of John Harbaugh with the Ravens from 2014-20, where he held several defensive positions including defensive backs coach in 2017 and linebackers coach the three years that followed.

With him calling and scheming up plays, presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Aiden Hutchinson, had a record-setting and Heisman finalist senior season. John Harbaugh spoke glowingly of Macdonald during his time with the team and highly regarded him to his brother when he got hired to coach at Michigan.

Mike Zimmer

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The former Minnesota Vikings’ head coach was let go following the 2021 season after eight years at the helm, where he compiled a 72-56-1 record. He has extensive experience as a defensive play-caller and is regarded as one of the more brilliant minds when it comes to dialing up pressure and disguising coverages.

Zimmer possesses nearly three decades worth of coaching experience dating back to 1994 including three stints as a defensive coordinator, with the most recent being for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2008-13. He has also called defensive plays for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and the Dallas Cowboys from 2000-06. Getting back to his roots as a play-caller and scheme designer could be just what Zimmer needs to reset his career or be where ultimately belongs in the long run.

Longshots —

Brian Flores

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The only reason that Flores is not listed as a realistic outside candidate is that after being fired by the Dolphins, he’s a hot commodity and will likely be a head coach again in the coming weeks. He led his team to a back-to-back winning season for the first time in nearly two decades in what were arduous circumstances for most of his three-year tenure at the helm.

Despite those facts, the dysfunctional Miami Dolphins franchise relieved him of his duties and he is now looking for a new gig elsewhere. As one of the few branches of the Bill Belichick tree to bear fruit and look more than competent as head coach, going back to being a play-caller or high-ranking assistant might be his last resort at the moment.

Vic Fangio

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The former Denver Broncos’ head coach is renowned as a brilliant defensive play-caller/designer and has a history with the Ravens. He served as a special assistant to the head coach under both Brian Billick and Harbaugh from 2006-09. However, he is likely much lower on the totem pole than most of the potential candidates inside or outside of the building after some unsavory comments he made about the organization.

After the Ravens handed him and his previously then-undefeated Broncos a humbling 23-7 loss in Week 4 the 2021 season, Fangio likely eliminated himself from contention with his postgame comments.