Mike Macdonald Explains His Vision for Ravens Defense – Sports Illustrated

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Mike Macdonald doesn't plan to deviate from the core philosophy of the Ravens defense.
They're going to be aggressive, attack the quarterback, create turnovers and try to become No. 1 in the NFL once again. 
And why not? 
Macdonald already had a track record for success and the defense was among the best in the league when Macdonald coached in Baltimore. 
“I think you’re building on what we’ve been able to do over the last … Really, over the course of the entire franchise, right? Especially since [head coach] John [Harbaugh] has been here and since 2014, but the first thing you want is a cohesive unit. You want everybody to have each other’s backs. There’s a certain style of play that it takes to ‘Play Like A Raven,’ right? And then how you build it, you want it to be multiple. I think that’s what we were aiming for in 2018, and I think we were able to achieve a lot of that. 
"You want it to be flexible and adaptive, but it needs to be complimentary as well, and it needs to be light enough where you can adjust certain things, and it’s simple for the players, so they can go play the way you expect them to go play.”
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.
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%). 
Now as the Ravens defensive coordinator, Macdonald plans to build on the past success, not recreate the wheel. 
“There’s a lot of carryover from ‘Wink’ [former Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale] because we were together – like how [head coach] John [Harbaugh] describes – when we tried to build it in 2018," Macdonald said. "So, we see a lot of things the same. One thing that’s definitely going to carry over that ‘Wink’ did that I learned that I used at Michigan was overcommunicating the situations with the players. It’s kind of like when you have a rookie in training camp – not that I ever did this – it’s like, ‘Hey man, you’ve got this coming up. You ready for this call?’ And what do you know, the guy executed it well. 
"So, it’s the same thing in the game; if you can go over the situation with the guys, let them know what you’re going to call in certain situations, and they’re on the same page, you find the execution is better. So, just the overcommunication and the situational, playing the game before it happens, is something that will definitely carry over.”
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