Decisions Loom for Martindale, Roman?

Street Talk Decisions Loom for Martindale, Roman?

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Don Martindale said it would take an “opportunity of a lifetime” for him to leave as the Ravens defensive coordinator for a head coaching position.

Greg Roman is honored to be mentioned as a head coaching candidate, but his focus as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator is the next opponent.

It’s a good problem when an NFL team gets requests from other franchises to interview its coordinators for head jobs.

That means success. 

It’s also a problem replacing these talented coordinators, a challenge Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows well. 

Harbaugh has gone through six offensive coordinators and five defensive coordinators since taking over as the head coach in 2008. 

Some of those coordinators, such as Gary Kubiak and Chuck Pagano left for a head coaching job, while others simply didn’t work out, like Marc Trestman and Marty Mornhinweg.

Despite the turnover, Harbaugh has gone 118-74 as the head coach in Baltimore.

The Browns have formally asked to interview Roman, among other candidates. Cleveland has tried to poach Baltimore in the past, hiring former scout Phil Savage as senior vice president and general manager in 2005.

While the Ravens have been a model franchise, Cleveland has been mired in the bottom of the standings and just can’t seem to get on track. The Browns fired Freddie Kitchens after just one tumultuous 6-10 season and then canned general manager John Dorsey the following day.

While Cleveland clearly have a lot of talent on its roster, the front office is in constant disarray. The ownership can’t find a winning formula.

Would Roman be interested in diving into that hornet’s nest?

He was pretty cryptic this week about his intentions.

“All of us would probably say that we want to be a head coach, and that’s what you work towards,” he said. “You work long and hard, and our families are a big part of that, as well. I’m very grateful to be in an organization that encourages that, that mindset. Everything has its place. You have to be able to compartmentalize, and that is something that is in its own box on the shelf. 

“When that opportunity comes, it will be addressed. Right now, as I said, we have three opponents that we’re getting ready for, and we have a lot of balls in the air, so to speak, for all you jugglers out there. My focus is certainly on our guys and our team and our offense and whatnot. So, in all due time, those things will be addressed.”

Roman has turned the Ravens (14-2) into an offensive juggernaut. 

The team set a franchise record this season for wins and broke the NFL’s all-time single-season rushing record (3,296 yards). Baltimore also became the first team in NFL history to average at least 200 rushing and 200 net passing yards per game in a season, finishing with 206.0 rushing yards and 201.6 net passing yards per game.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson is ranked first in the NFL with a franchise-record 36 touchdown passes and third with a 113.3 quarterback rating. Jackson is sixth among all players with 1,206 yards rushing.

The Browns would love to see Roman work the same magic with Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb

Martindale was less enthusiastic about the rumors surrounding him. At first, he only knew about the potential opportunities through his son, who kept up with the potential candidates through the media.

However, the New York Giants have formally asked the Ravens to interview Martindale for their head-coaching vacancy.

“It needs to be an opportunity of a lifetime,” Martindale said about leaving for another position. “We love it here, we love this city, we love the culture here in the building. I love working for Harbs and Mr. Bisciotti. Out of fairness to all of the other teams … we’re playing in a one-game playoff game. Credit to the players. It’s because of how well they played that my name even gets mentioned.”

The Giants are one of the storied franchises of the NFL and play in the nation’s largest media market. It’s a grand opportunity to take over as the head coach. And the Giants do have a long list of candidates they are pursuing, but Martindale certainly will get consideration. 

Under Martindale, Baltimore finished the 2018 season as the league’s top-ranked defense, allowing an NFL-best 292.9 yards per game. Baltimore also permitted the league’s second-fewest points per game (17.9), just behind Chicago’s 17.7. 

The Ravens were ranked fifth in overall defense this season, allowing 300.6 yards per game. Martindale also helped revamp the Ravens’ secondary that was ranked in the bottom third of the league in the early part of the season to among the best in the NFL entering Week 17.

For now, both Roman and Martindale are focused on the Ravens’ next opponent, whether it be the Texans, Titans or Bills. 

A Super Bowl victory would only boost their stock even more.

And Harbaugh would have to look for replacements once again.

It’s a good problem. 

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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