Don Martindale

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Wink Martindale's Defense: "Fast & Furious"

June 14, 2018 - 12:26 pm

By Alex Woodward

Don "Wink" Martindale is in his first year as defensive coordinator for the Ravens after Dean Pees "retired" for all of 2 weeks before becoming the new defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. It's early in Wink's tenure but there have been clear themes in the first few weeks of OTA's and mandatory mini-camp; the defense is getting simpler, faster and more aggressive.
Martindale spent five seasons as the Ravens linebackers coach before getting the promotion this season. In that time he has worked with the likes of multiple stand out linebackers such as:

- CJ Mosely - 3 pro bowl appearances in his first 4 seasons
- Ray Lewis - The GOAT - only worked with him for his final year
- Zachary Orr - Led the team in tackles in a breakthrough year before retiring due to a congenital spine condition
- Terrell Suggs - One of the all-time greats in Ravens history
- Elvis Dumervil - Led the team in sacks in 2015
- Daryl Smith - An aging veteran who led the team in tackles in 2013 and 2015

Through the years, Martindale has proven that he can extract the most talent out of his players. His promotion to defensive coordinator came as no surprise.

The biggest difference in Martindale's system compared to Pees' is the simplicity. In the first month of OTA's and mini camp, players and coaches alike have praised Martindale's "streamlined" and "simpler" system. They have talked about having more freedom to make calls on the fly and focusing on execution on what they do well, opposed to Pees' more complex playbook.

Martindale also won't be afraid to send pressure. Again, players and coaches have been raving about Wink's aggressive play calling. It's not just in the play calling though. He's allowing players like Kamalei Correa to move back to outside linebacker which is more of a natural position for him and Wink's aggression could help the likes of Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser who are better suited to rush the passer than drop back in coverage. I think Terrell Suggs summed up Martindale's personnel management perfectly in an appearance on "The Lounge Podcast" with Ryan Mink on;

"He's taking the handcuffs off the guys. Sometimes a player can be shackled just by the rules and confines of the defense."

Translation? Dean Pees' system was more about making a play call and sticking with it no matter what while Wink is encouraging the players to make on-the-fly adjustments when needed. I don't think that statement was limited to play calls either. I think he's also referring to pre-decided roles for each player. It's a direct shot at the departed Pees if you ask me.

Martindale has earned the respect of the players and the team has enough veterans on the field to communicate the audibles when needed. It sounds like the play calling will be more direct and simple to help younger guys like rookie Kenny Young just go out and play and not worry so much about learning a 100 page playbook. If the Ravens want to play fast, they can't stop to think.

This "free" and "aggressive" system could be exactly what the defense needs to get back to playing defense "like a Raven". It could also cause mass confusion in key situations. Either way, the coaches and players have bought in to Martindale's strategy. After back-to-back seasons ending with the defense on the field, why not give it a shot?
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the motto for the Martindale era:

Print the t-shirts.

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