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The Ravens have found their new inside linebackers coach, and he goes by “Wink.”
Head Coach John Harbaugh announced that the team has hired Don Martindale, filling a vacancy in the linebackers coaching room with Dean Pees moving to defensive coordinator.
“I am excited to be part of a great team and great organization like the Ravens,” Martindale said.
“When I got the call, it was a no-brainer. There has always been a great defense here, led by tremendously talented players and coaches and I am thrilled to be a part of a proven system.”
Ted Monachino, who joined the Ravens as their outside linebackers coach before the 2010 season, has been promoted to linebackers coach.
Monachino will still work with the outside linebackers, and is part of the reason for the team’s improved pass rush and back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons from Terrell Suggs.
Martindale, 49, comes with big-time experience and a reputation of being well-liked by his players. He’ll step into a linebackers room that includes future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and other younger talent such as Dannell Ellerbe.
“He’s known for his hard work, intelligence and thorough teaching, and his players have always responded well to his coaching,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll earn the respect of our players. I’m confident about that.”
Martindale was the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator during the 2010 season. That unit finished 32nd in the NFL that season, but also dealt with major injuries, including to top linebacker Elvis Dumervil.
Head Coach Josh McDaniels and his staff, including Martindale, was cleaned out following that year. Martindale didn’t coach anywhere last season.
Previous to arriving in Denver, Martindale was the linebackers coach in Oakland for five years, and was so well-liked by Raiders former owner Al Davis that he was reportedly in the running for Oakland’s head-coaching position in 2009.
It’s his reputation with the players that has spoken volumes.
“Anytime you can help a player get better, that fosters a relationship,” Martindale said. “That’s what I take pride in. Seeing them have success for themselves excites me.”
Martindale has a Midwestern background similar to many of the Ravens’ coaches, including Harbaugh. He went to small Defiance College in Ohio and spent 10 years as a defensive assistant at Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Western Illinois and Western Kentucky before making the leap to the NFL.
He coached with Harbaugh for one season at Cincinnati in 1996, when Harbaugh was the assistant head coach. In 2002, Martindale worked for Harbaugh’s father, Jack, as the inside linebackers and special teams coach at Western Kentucky. They won the NCAA Division I-AA championship that season.