Could ex-Ravens DC Wink Martindale be a fit for Seahawks?

Jan 25, 2022, 10:33 AM
Seahawks Don Martindale...
Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale looks on from the sidelines during a game against Cleveland. (Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
(Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

The Seahawks are in need of a new defensive coordinator after firing Ken Norton Jr., and one of the more well-known defensive play callers in the NFL is now available.

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In a move that surprised many across the league last week, the Baltimore Ravens announced that they and defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale were parting ways despite him being under contract for the 2022 season. Martindale was Baltimore’s defensive coordinator from 2018-21 and had been with Baltimore since 2012, winning a Super Bowl ring that year as the team’s linebackers coach.

As of Tuesday morning, there had been no reports adding Martindale to the Seahawks’ list of four candidates for their defensive coordinator vacancy, but should they be interested? Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps certainly thinks so. He explained why on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Monday.

“Wink Martindale, to me, is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL,” Heaps said. “I don’t care what the numbers were (in 2021). I know his defense ranked behind the Seattle Seahawks in a lot of categories, which is not a good thing. But if you’re not taking into account how devastated this team was with injuries throughout the entire year, particularly to their secondary, they have legit excuses.”

Yes, as bad as the Seahawks were in many major defensive categories, the Ravens were even worse.

Seattle finished 31st against the pass, ninth in scoring defense, 28th in total defense and tied for 25th in turnovers. The Ravens were dead-last against the pass, 15th in scoring defense, 25th in total defense and 29th in turnovers. The two teams were also tied for 22nd in the NFL in sacks. Both teams were good against the run as well, with Seattle ranking 17th and Baltimore finishing first. Both teams were tied for second in the NFL in average yards per carry allowed at just 3.8.

The 2021 season was an outlier in Baltimore as the Ravens were great defensively from 2018-20, ranking in the top seven in total defense and top three in scoring defense in each of those three seasons.

In 2018, the Ravens led the NFL in total defense and finished second in scoring defense. In 2019, they were fourth in total defense and third in scoring defense. And in 2020, Baltimore finished seventh in total defense and second in scoring defense.

As Heaps noted, the Ravens were severely injured throughout the 2021 season on that side of the ball.

Linebacker L.J. Fort (ACL), cornerback Marcus Peters (ACL) and defensive end Derek Wolfe (hip) all missed the entire season due to injuries. All three were starters in 2020. Additionally, cornerback Marlon Humphrey missed the final five games of the season due to a pectoral injury.

The Ravens had only four defensive players start 15 or more 14 games in 2021.

“Before (2021), Wink Martindale’s Ravens, man, that defense was one of the best in football for years,” Heaps said. “I think that he is a tremendous defense coordinator.”

Heaps firmly expects a team to hire Martindale to run their defense for the 2022 season. Will that team be the Seahawks?

“He’s going to get an opportunity to be a part of another team here coming up real soon, and I expect that defense to be very, very good because Martindale is a great coach,” Heaps said. “I would love to see the Seattle Seahawks at least interview him, talk to him, communicate with him, but I don’t think Wink Martindale is going to go to the Seattle Seahawks.”

Why not?

“Wink Martindale, much like (longtime NFL defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio, there are certain defensive coordinators that are the head coaches of the defense. No one is going to tell them how to run their defense and what they want to do,” Heaps said, “and I don’t think that’s going to jive with Pete Carroll and the way that he’s very involved on the defensive side of the ball.”

Carroll’s coaching background is on defense, where he coached safeties and defensive backs before becoming an NFL defensive coordinator for the New York Jets in 1990. Carroll also had four years of experience as a defensive coordinator in the college ranks in the 1980s.

It is well known that Carroll is very engaged with the Seahawks’ defensive game planning and in-game calls, so regardless of who the team’s defensive coordinator is, it’s still Carroll’s defense.

“That to me just doesn’t seem like a fit from that perspective,” Heaps said. “Although if you’re asking what I would love, I wouldn’t mind seeing Wink Martindale here in Seattle as a DC at all. I think he would bring a fun level of play and a high level of play here to Seattle.”

Listen to the full second hour of Monday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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