The Ravens have yet to hire a successor to retiring defensive coordinator Dean Pees, but head coach John Harbaugh knows what he is looking for from the defense’s next boss.
“Definitely continuity,” Harbaugh said Thursday morning during his end-of-season news conference. “I’m a believer in this system. I think this system has been something that’s been developed over a long period of time, and we have worked really hard every single year to make it better. We’ve evolved it and grown it, and I think you see the results. And I know that our opponents do and [know] how hard we are to play against. So I’m not going to bring somebody in from the outside and flip the whole system around and do something completely different. We’re going to build on everything that we’ve done.”
Stability has been a theme of Harbaugh’s on all three occasions during his tenure when he’s had to hire a new defensive coordinator. That would seem to give the edge to linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale, who has played a critical role in developing young linebackers such as C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr and Patrick Onwuasor. Martindale was the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator in 2010.
Martindale’s primary competition for the job figures to be two former Ravens coaches. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, the Ravens defensive coordinator in 2011, is available after being fired. According to sources, the team has already spoken with Pagano about returning to the franchise.
Another candidate could be Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino, who coached Ravens linebackers from 2010 to 2015.
“So it will be somebody who has been involved in this system before for sure — somebody either inside or somebody outside who’s been in the system before and you can probably figure out who those people are,” Harbaugh said. “You guys have written some stuff about that. So I’ll hopefully know soon, and we’ll roll. It’ll be a guy that allows us to just continue to get better.”
The next defensive coordinator will inherit a unit that finished the regular season leading the NFL in interceptions (22) and total takeaways (34). The Ravens also ranked sixth in scoring defense (18.9) and in the top 10 in passing yards allowed per game (213.8), first downs per game (18.5) and third-down defense (36.9).
On Tuesday, Harbaugh thanked Pees for his contributions.
“I have a lot of love for Dean Pees, a lot of respect for Dean,” he said. “The job he did here over eight years was just tremendous. I think the record speaks for itself in terms of the defense that we played. It’s not without adversity or challenges, obviously, but every team faces that. The rest of it, we’ll build from there. I’ll find a defensive coordinator, inside or out. We’re in the process of doing that right now.”