OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Mike Macdonald is back “home” with the Baltimore Ravens.
Macdonald was hired as Baltimore’s new defensive coordinator after a year at Michigan. He replaces Don Martindale, who was fired after four seasons.
Macdonald started his career as an intern with the Ravens and spent seven years in Baltimore, serving most recently as the linebackers coach from 2018-20.
“It’s a dream come true to come back home,” Macdonald said. “This is home for me and my family. So when the opportunity did come about, it was one of the easier decisions we ever made. I understand the standard it takes to play like a Raven. This culture has helped mold me.”
At age 34, Macdonald is the youngest defensive coordinator in Ravens franchise history. He'll lead a defense that has a proud history but struggled last year amid injuries that led to inconsistent play.
Macdonald was Michigan’s defensive coordinator last season on Jim Harbaugh's staff, brother of Ravens coach John Harbaugh. He helped the Wolverines win the Big Ten and reach the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Under Macdonald’s guidance, the Wolverines had the nation’s eighth-ranked scoring defense that allowed 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 played a key role with the development of defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who earned first-team All-American honors and was a Heisman Trophy finalist after producing a single-season school record 14 sacks.
“For Mike to take that defense to the level he did in terms of the way they played, how they played, the way they flew around, the way they believed in each other, the way they related to each other, it was a spirit that was running through the whole defense,” John Harbaugh said.
The Ravens are hoping Macdonald can get the Ravens defense back on track after a subpar season. Baltimore ranked 25th for overall defense, its worst ranking since 1997. The Ravens ranked last against the pass.
Harbaugh is confident that Macdonald can turn things and outlined four areas that made him an attractive hire:
— He understands the Ravens' standards after having coached in Baltimore.
— Macdonald was part of the successful Ravens teams in the past.
— He was a major contributor when Baltimore rebuilt the defense in 2018.
— Macdonald made the bold move of leaving his comfort zone in Michigan to embrace a new challenge in Baltimore.
“The things you see in Mike is a great combination of intelligence, common sense and people skills,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a really unique balance of confidence and humility.”
As the Ravens linebackers coach, Macdonald helped Baltimore produce the NFL’s No. 1 overall defense (307.8 ypg), while also allowing the league’s fewest points per game (18.2). Veteran linebackers Matthew Judon and C.J. Mosley each earned Pro Bowl nods under Macdonald’s mentorship.
In 2017, Macdonald helped guide a secondary that led the NFL in interceptions (22) and forced turnovers (34). Baltimore also finished second in the league in both defensive passer rating (72.4) and defensive touchdowns (five).
“This is not a stranger. This is somebody that we know,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been with us for many years and many battles, trials and tribulations. Some great moments. We consider Mike to be part of the family.”
Now, Macdonald is tasked with helping the Ravens regain some of their former glory.
“Ultimately, our goal is not to be top 10, we want to be No. 1,” Macdonald said. “That’s the standard.”