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Ravens Defense Could Have Quick Turnaround Under Mike Macdonald

New defensive coordinator has much work to do.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Mike Macdonald left the Ravens to become the defensive coordinator at Michigan and made an immediate impact for the Wolverines.

He's looking to have the same influence in his second stint in Baltimore. 

Macdonald helped Michigan to its first Big Ten title since 2004 and an appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinals. Under Macdonald's guidance, the Wolverines had the nation’s eighth-ranked scoring defense with 17.4 points per game compared to 34.5 the prior year when they finished 95th.

Michigan also finished 20th in yards per game allowed (330.9) and 11th in red zone touchdown efficiency (45.7%). 

Macdonald also played an instrumental role in the standout performance of defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who earned first-team All-American honors and was a Heisman Trophy finalist after producing a career-high and single-season school record 14 sacks.

The Ravens are hoping Macdonald can get the Ravens defense back on track after a subpar season. Baltimore ranked 25th for overall defense last season, its worst ranking since 1997. The Ravens also ranked dead last against the pass. 

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Coach John Harbaugh parted ways with defensive coordinator Don Martindale after the season.

From 2018-20, Macdonald led a Ravens’ linebackers corps that helped Baltimore produce the NFL’s No. 1 overall defense (307.8 ypg) during that span, while also permitting the league’s fewest points per game (18.2). Veteran linebackers Matthew Judon (2019-20) and C.J. Mosley (2018) also each earned Pro Bowl nods under Macdonald’s tutelage. (With Macdonald as a member of the defensive staff, Mosley was a four-time Pro Bowler – 2014, 2016-18 – and became the team’s first-ever rookie Pro Bowler in 2014.)

In 2017, alongside pass game coordinator/secondary coach Chris Hewitt, Macdonald helped guide a defensive backfield that contributed to the NFL’s most interceptions (22) and forced turnovers (34). Baltimore also finished second in the league in both defensive passer rating (72.4) and defensive touchdowns (five). S Eric Weddle earned his second-consecutive Pro Bowl nod in 2017 after leading the team with six interceptions.

Now, he has a chance to put his stamp further on the Ravens' defense. 

“Mike is one of us – a Raven through and through,” Harbaugh said. “During his initial seven seasons with us, it was evident that his leadership, intelligence and passion would earn him the opportunity to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL. Mike has continuously proven himself, including when he led one of the country’s best defenses at Michigan last year. 

"He is a proven play-caller who knows our system well. He also fully understands the standard of playing defense in Baltimore.”