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Don’t Expect the Ravens’ Defense To Lose Their Aggression with Mike Macdonald at Defensive Coordinator

The Ravens’ defense won’t be shying away from their aggressive ways with new Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald

Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh with new Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald.
Kyle P. Barber

Today, the Baltimore Ravens announced Mike Macdonald as their new defensive coordinator. To open the press conference, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh sat beside Macdonald and offered four specific reasons as to why Harbaugh selected the young coach, noting his experience with the organization, his involvement in the rebuilding of the team four years ago, and more.

“Second thing, [Macdonald’s] an established part of the Ravens’ culture, defensively—the history and success we’ve had,” Harbaugh said. “He contributed to it. He helped build it. He was a major contributor, number three, to the 2018 rebuild of our defensive schemes. Mike, on the ground floor of that rebuild was very integral in the way we’ve built the defense and the way it runs right. Obviously, you saw it operate in Michigan and we’re planning on taking that to another level.”

With Macdonald being a fresh face for a new position but not green to the organization, it’s an interesting dynamic of what Macdonald’s philosophies are about the defense that will remain, but also how the Ravens’ defense will evolve. With the media’s first question of the press conference, Macdonald was given an opportunity to share said philosophy.

“I think we’re building on what we’ve been able to do over the last, well, over the course of the entire franchise,” Macdonald said. “The first thing you want is a cohesive unit. You want everybody to have each other’s backs. There’s a certain style of play that it takes to ‘play like a Raven.’”

With Macdonald being involved in the previous years of former Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s system, Macdonald was asked if he will continue the philosophy of aggressiveness and unique blitz concepts.

“The aggressiveness absolutely is going to carry over, but I think you’ve got to look through the lens of, ‘What does aggressiveness actually mean?’ It’s about keeping the offense off-balance and whether or not they’re really believing what they’re seeing on a down-to-down basis,” Macdonald said. “A lot of times we’ll come with a schemed-up pressure. That’ll happen. A lot of times it could be a fake pressure. It could look like this coverage and play like another one. You’re changing the stress points of the zones and things like that and just trying to create doubt at all times. You want to be the one pushing the envelope rather than the other way around. That aggressiveness, that was something—that’s a principle of the Ravens organization, right, it’s aggressiveness.”

While the unique/exotic looks Wink’s name often were married with weren’t mentioned specifically, Wink’s concept—and the principle of defensive aggression the organization constructed a pillar for, will remain in Macdonald’s play calling.