The Baltimore Ravens made a very surprising coaching move on Friday evening with the decision to fire defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.

Baltimore announced the news with a statement from head coach John Harbaugh, who said that he and Martindale “have agreed to move forward in separate directions.”

“After several productive conversations, Don and I have agreed to move forward in separate directions. We have had a great run on defense, and I am very proud of what has been accomplished and the work he has done. Don has been a major contributor to the success of our defense since 2012, and especially since he became defensive coordinator four years ago. He has done a great job. Now it is time to pursue other opportunities. Sometimes the moment comes, and it’s the right time. I am personally grateful for our friendship and for everything he has done in Baltimore.”

Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that “philosophical differences” led the Ravens to part ways with Martindale.

The Ravens’ defense wasn’t its usual self in the 2021 NFL season, ranking as a bottom-10 unit in many statistical categories. Baltimore ranked as the No. 25 defense this year (and 28th in DVOA), after finishing in the top-10 in Martindale’s other three seasons. But the Ravens also dealt with several key injuries that factored into the 2021 struggles.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that Martindale “is expected to be one of the hottest assistant hires out there.”

Martindale, 58, had been with Baltimore since 2012; he was a linebackers coach on their Super Bowl XLVII staff. In 2018, he was promoted to defensive coordinator, a role he also held with the Denver Broncos in 2010. He’s known for having very aggressive defenses.

The news — and timing; most such firings were made immediately after the NFL regular season ended — stunned the football world, and immediately led to speculation of where Martindale could end up next, as well as what the Ravens will do to replace him.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at