OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Sure enough, the Baltimore Ravens' success in the regular season has created an interest in coordinators Greg Roman and Don Martindale as candidates to fill NFL head coaching vacancies.
Roman, the architect of Baltimore's record-setting offense, has been contacted by Cleveland. The New York Giants have asked the Ravens permission to interview Martindale, the blitz-happy general of Baltimore's tenacious defense.
Requests from other teams may follow as the Ravens (14-2) push forward in the playoffs with a 12-game winning streak and the best record in the NFL. The 47-year-old Roman has enjoyed success as an offensive coordinator with San Francisco and Buffalo, but this appears to be his best shot of landing with a team to call his own.
“I think all of us would probably say that we want to be a head coach. That's what you work towards,” Roman said Tuesday.
For now, however, he is intent on preparing for Baltimore's postseason opener on Jan. 11. After a bye this weekend, the Ravens will host either Tennessee, Buffalo or Houston.
“My focus is certainly on our guys and our team and our offense,” Roman said.
Asked if he's set up a meeting with the Browns, Roman replied: “That's in somebody else's hands. Right now my time is filled with film watching and hitting the rewind button. My pen is moving furiously across yellow paper. I think (the interview) will be pretty straightforward. It's very nice to be recognized as someone to be interviewed and it's humbling, but it is what is."
What it isn't, in his eyes, is a distraction to his current obligation with the Ravens.
“Everything has its place. You've got to be able to compartmentalize," Roman said. “That is something that is in its own box on the shelf. When that opportunity comes it will be addressed. Right now, we have three opponents that we're getting ready for. We've got a lot of balls in the air."
Roman has become a potential commodity to the Browns and others because of his work in creating an offense that enabled Baltimore to set an NFL record for yards rushing in a season (3,296); became the first unit to average at least 200 yards rushing and passing; and helped Lamar Jackson become the first quarterback in league history to pass for 3,000 yards and run for at least 1,000 in a single season.
Martindale took a unit that gave up 33 points to Kansas City and 40 to Cleveland during successive weeks in September and molded it into a ball-hawking, quarterback-chasing defense that finished fourth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed. After that Cleveland debacle, the Ravens gave up only 18 touchdowns during their winning streak.
Martindale has proven himself to be a solid leader and adept at devising blitzes that make Baltimore's defense nearly as effective as in the days of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Although he's been Baltimore's defensive coordinator for only two years, Martindale has proven himself worthy of standing among some of the men who previously held the job, including Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan and Chuck Pagano, all of whom went on to become NFL head coaches.
The only way Martindale, 56, will say farewell to coach John Harbaugh and owner Steve Bisciotti is if he's offered what he called “a dream job.”
“I think it needs be an opportunity of a lifetime. We love it here, we love this city, we love the culture here in the building, love working for Harbs and Mr. Bisciotti,” Martindale said.
Four members of the Baltimore defense were named to the Pro Bowl, and Martindale concedes that working with that much talent makes him look good.
“Credit to the players," he said. “It's because of the success of what the players did this year and how well they played is why my name gets mentioned in those things."