On Thursday, the Baltimore Ravens announced Head Coach John Harbaugh has promoted inside linebackers coach Zach Orr to become their new defensive coordinator. Below are the thoughts from the Beatdown staff on the move.
I’m a bit surprised by the move. Not negatively, as I highly respect Orr and it’s clear he’s well respected by the players and staff in the building, but this is a big-time move and he’s vaulted himself from a former player turned coach into a full-blown coordinator in under a decade. This is an incredible achievement for the former All-Pro linebacker who was once an undrafted free agent rookie linebacker from North Texas.
Orr has demonstrated the ability to lead and to improve the players under his tutelage. He was given high praise from inside linebacker Patrick Queen, and his experience as a player has benefitted his reputation as a coach. He understands the game from being in the thick of the defense, especially here in Baltimore.
Orr has a hefty role to fill, what with the last defensive coordinator setting NFL and franchise records here in Baltimore before landing a head coaching role elsewhere as the NFL’s youngest head coach. But Orr is not one to back down from such a challenge and I expect him to lead his players and put them in places to succeed. — Kyle Phoenix
The Ravens continue their history of promoting coaches from within on the defensive side of the ball. Zach Orr’s career arc from joining the Ravens as a player in 2014 to becoming the team’s defensive coordinator just a decade later is unprecedented. To his credit, he’s quickly climbed the ladder and become a respected, sought after coaching mind. At just 31 years old, Orr is a few years younger than Mike Macdonald was when he was hired as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator two years ago. Orr has a good connection with players and is well-liked in the locker room. He has big shoes to fill, but the Ravens have a long continuity now of developing good defensive coaches. Orr could definitely be the next in that lineage. — Frank Platko
While this still doesn’t take away the sting of the expected loss of Macdonald, it is a sweet consolation prize nonetheless. Orr is widely regarded as one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game who was in contention for the Green Bay Packers and linked to Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator vacancies. It’s great to see the Ravens not only retain him but elevate him to a position that he is clearly qualified and ready for. He follows the trend of the Ravens hiring a young former inside linebackers coach to be their defensive coordinator and at just 31 years old and not too far removed from being a former Second-Team All-Pro player himself, Orr can relate to his players in a unique way that not even his predecessor could. I love the hire and couldn’t be more happy for Orr whose promising playing career was cut short after he went from undrafted free agent to a borderline elite defender. He could be the next head coach in waiting that could succeed John Harbaugh down the road or sooner if he proves himself and the team decides to go in a different direction in the event that they don’t get over the hump and reach the Super Bowl in the coming years. — Joshua Reed
Zach Orr is a Raven through and through. A homegrown UDFA turned All Pro who lost his career to an unfortunate medical situation. His first coaching spot was in Baltimore and he eventually came back to Baltimore as the linebackers coach. Now he takes the next step in his career as the defensive coordinator for the Ravens.
The risk is that he’s relatively new on the coaching scene, with three years as a position coach between Jacksonville and Baltimore and four as an analyst. With no play calling experience, the Ravens are taking a chance on him.
The good news is he was close to Mike Macdonald and knows the scheme. The players and locker room loves him. And it’s a feel good story and a morale booster after a devastating playoff loss and Macdonald leaving. He also was a pivotal part of Patrick Queens development and with Trenton Simpson seemingly up next, keeping Orr is a good news.
Next is to find out if the Ravens can keep Anthony Weaver, the other favorite to earn the DC role. He was a massive part of installing the pressure packages for the defense. Keeping him could help minimize the impact felt by Macdonald’s departure. — Zach Canter