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  • Writer's pictureJoey Jarzynka

Ravens' DC Don Martindale Quotes 6.23.20


A lot of new additions to your team, to your defense, and you haven't gotten, really, the chance to see any of them personally. How's it been working this [offseason] virtually? Are you ready to hit the ground running once training camp starts in July? (David Ginsburg) "We're definitely ready to hit the ground running. John [Harbaugh] has done a great job with the schedule and us doing everything from home, and meetings haven't changed. We were talking the other day as a defensive staff, and if you just took the transcripts from OTAs last year, and then our Zoom meetings this year, you couldn't tell the difference. Because we've made Zoom meetings an event that our guys didn't want to miss them, and they took something away from them. It just makes you appreciate the small things in life. It makes you appreciate, as a coach, the time away from the grass how much you really do miss them – being hands on, if you will. But we're right where we want to be as far as installation and all that."

Is there a way to encapsulate just what the players are missing out on by not having that grass time? (Dave Richard) "I just think it's the muscle memory and the reps. So, when we finally do get back together in training camp, I think that it just makes each rep more precious. We've had that discussion throughout the defense. We've got to be ready to go when we finally do get to hit the grass. It's the muscle memory of going over, and over things, as far as the actual reps themselves. But through Zoom, and you've got a lot of smart assistants on the defensive side of the ball, we've done some things through technology to help them do that. Obviously, you can't get the one-on-one, fast pace of the practice. But the biggest thing we focused on was the camaraderie and the culture, because that's the challenge to replicate in building this thing. But we're proud of how we've approached that part. We had a 'Chasing Greatness' series with them and did some different things like that. With our 'Chasing Greatness' series, John [Harbaugh] was awesome. He had [hall of famer] Ed Reed, and [hall of famer] Ray [Lewis] and [former Ravens WR] Steve Smith Sr., and we took the ball and ran with it there. We brought in different speakers, like: [former Ravens DT] Tony Siragusa, [former Ravens safety] Eric Weddle, [ESPN anchor] Sage Steele, [former world heavyweight champion] Larry Holmes, [World Series champion] Ryan Howard, [Super Bowl champion] DeMarcus Ware, [former Ravens associate head coach/special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg. We had Commander Mark McGinnis from the Navy Seals, and then [Kentucky head basketball coach] John Calipari, [NBA champion] Julius Erving. We even had [president of the Baltimore City Council] Brandon Scott come in. And we finished it off with [former Super Bowl champion assistant coaches] Rob and Rex Ryan, which was an event itself for all the players to see. That's the biggest thing – is just creating the culture and the camaraderie between the players. I think we did an excellent job with doing that."

Wanted to see your impressions of LB Patrick Queen and LB Malik Harrison, and what they might bring to the MIKE and WILL for you guys this season? (Todd Karpovich) "I think that you just go off of what they did in college, off the tape, and that's the only thing I can answer you. You have some new additions that bring a lot of speed to the defense. I'm excited just as well – I'm sure you all are excited about seeing them in action – because as far as people, they're quality people. [Executive vice president & GM] Eric [DeCosta] did a great job of that, and 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] and [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] as far as the draft choices that we have. I can't commend them enough as far as good people that they are. I think when we get to training camp, we'll find out who's All-Zoom team, and who can actually play football. And you know those speakers I was talking about, that was just in the defensive meeting room in our 'Chasing Greatness' [series]. Like I said, John had Ed [Reed], and he had Ray [Lewis] and Steve Smith Sr., and we just took the ball and ran with it from there."

Some players wrestle with being franchised [tagged]. OLB Matthew Judon seemed to really relish it, and that's a little thing that flies under the radar, but it's got to be a plus not having a disgruntled guy, and Matthew has just been so great in the locker room. Your thoughts? (Kirk McEwen) "What a great story – a Division II fifth round draft choice … And let's just call it like we see it, he's looking at generational wealth down the road here. Signing that [franchise tag] just tells you where he's at. He works hard. I'm excited to watch him this year. He's ready to take his pass rushing to the next level, and I just see nothing but great things coming from Matt [Judon]."

You play the Browns, the Texans, the Chiefs and the Redskins to start the season. In a regular offseason, I'm sure you spend a lot of time with the players on the field and off the field, studying those first four opponents. Are there any differences from that now other than not having that grass time? (Dave Richard) "The grass time I'm talking about is OTAs and the actual practice itself. But I think we've even spent more time in drilling down studying them as a staff – our first four opponents. And John [Harbaugh] had us do another exercise, that was great, on some other teams that we've had that time to sit in our studies and watch it, meet as a defense, and we went back into the office for a day with John, and did all our social distancing, and wore our masks, and actually had a meeting. But the Zoom thing – if you're not afraid of it – it's like being at the office. I think that we've gotten even more time with studying our opponents, and ourselves, because we haven't had the practice time – where we're, instead of scripting for OTAs and evaluating the practice we just had and the meetings, we've had even more time to study our opponents. So, we're looking forward to that, as well."

You've added a couple of guys up front during the offseason. Obviously, they'll help your pass rush, but schematically, what else will change? What will you do with these additions? (Mike Preston) "You know the players that we have in Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. Schematically, does it change a whole lot? We'll wait and see with different personnel flexibility. They're two great players and leaders. Calais and Derek both have been just phenomenal in these Zoom meetings and getting to know their teammates as well as you can over the Internet – which those guys are used to it more than what we're used to it with all the technology. I'm saying you and I, because we're both old, Mike [Preston]. (laughter) But I think that it just makes your package more flexible. You've got Calais Campbell, who's the best five-technique in the National Football League, and you've got Derek Wolfe. You can work a combination of those guys. It all depends on how fast the younger guys come along. I just think that we're better up front. I think with 'Big Baby' [Brandon Williams] getting moved back to the 'Nose' – but he'll still play three-technique. You know how we do it; we'll move them all around. It's going to be fun to watch. I just can't wait to get together."

With CB Tavon Young coming back and CB Marcus Peters on the outside, John [Harbaugh] said that CB Jimmy Smith could move to safety. How can that further help the defense, and probably, move things around and keep offenses on their heels? (Daniel Oyefusi) "It's one of those things where it's a wait-and-see thing. In my own mind, like I said, you've got to wait until you see, until you get to practice and everything else. Jimmy [Smith] has already done what Brandon Carr did last year. We put him against good tight ends to cover in special situations – whether it's a third down, or two-minute [drill], or what have you, or different kinds of packages. But the thing that comes out about that is the best 11 in this defense could be … The best 11 will play, but it could be a different set of 11 for every package and matchup that we want to do, with whatever situation it is."

I want to go back a little to what you said. How did you come up with the idea for "Chasing Greatness" and just the effort in getting all these guys to speak to the team? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It started way back when we got word that everything was going to bump back, and we were doing everything virtual. As an old high school teacher, I taught some boring subjects. So, I think you had to be creative. My challenge, and our challenge as a defensive staff, was I wanted to make it must-see Zoom meetings. As well as you guys are with everything that you do, you do get Zoom fatigue, but I wanted to make it where they couldn't wait to come to the defensive meetings. We wanted to make it an event. We wanted to build a champion mindset and getting our culture right, because that was the most important goal that we had this offseason. I think we hit a home run with the speakers we had.

"'Goose' [Tony Siragusa], who I think is a Hall of Fame teammate – if there was such a thing – he should get a gold jacket for that, along with his other accolades. He just kept it real with the players – what it was to become a champ.

"[Eric] Weddle was great. It's a great perspective with Eric, because he talked about San Diego, then he also talked about [Los Angeles] L.A., compared to his Baltimore experience. He was awesome. The thing that stood out to me, and this is Eric Weddle, is he said, 'Hey guys, if a coach tells you, you had a good practice, that's not good enough. Don't walk in that building unless you want to be great. You want to have a great practice.' And he also talked to all the guys about ignoring the noises outside and preparation of being a pro.

"We had Sage Steele, who I think is the best host and anchor in the business at ESPN. She talked about her own path, her own challenges, the challenges that she had in coming up through the business, and all the way back to [Indiana University] IU, and I thought that was great – the perseverance that she showed. She also talked about the [Golden State] Warriors and other championship teams, what she thought that make up was, because she saw it up close.

"Larry Holmes was awesome – the champ. He talked about … The biggest thing he hit on is that … I don't know how many of you are boxing fans – he was [former world heavyweight champion] Muhammad Ali's sparring partner for five years. I tied this with the practice squad guys and the undrafted free agents, and those types of guys. He didn't care if he got paid or not, he was learning from the greatest. So, he took every day that he went to work as a lesson. You know what he did – he eventually beat [Muhammad] Ali. And he was quick to say – for all you boxing fans – that Ali was past his prime.

"Ryan Howard is a Rockstar – the MVP first baseman for the world champion [Philadelphia] Phillies. He's an underdog story – came from Missouri State. He also hit 58 home runs in a season, and he made it look like a softball league that year. But he said, 'Ignore the depth chart. Just become undeniable in what you want to do.'

"DeMarcus Ware was awesome. Reminded me of a Ray Lewis-type of leader. He led by example. He was talking about … The thing there was becoming a leader from one team to another, which was good for Calais [Campbell] and Derek [Wolfe], and his thoughts on that.

"Jerry Rosburg came back. We love Jerry. He talked about the standards of being a Raven, in his eyes.

"The Navy Seal Commander, Mark McGinnis, he got the most questions from the players. It was awesome. He was talking about [how] training is harder than any competition, and not everybody can prepare like a Seal. And he sees it the same way with the Ravens; not everybody can prepare like a Raven. We talked about teamwork. A lot of those guys were talking about being selfless.

"'Dr. J' [Julius Erving] was awesome. He was awesome, because he gave a great perspective during the Civil Rights era – when he played and how he handled it. I thought that was good for the guys at the time. And we all know 'Dr. J' was – as I introduced him to the players – he was Michael Jordan's Michael Jordan, if you will.

"John Calipari came in. He's one of the great personalities in sports. He talked about servant leadership, selflessness in pursuit of a common goal, and he challenged players. He talked about individual plays. He's a fan of ours. He watches the Ravens.

"Brandon Scott was the one who knocked our socks off. You could see the greatness in him when he was talking. He talked about the future of Baltimore and how he sees it. It's a very timely discussion of issues in our city, and [he] outlined ways that our players can help. He's an inspiration about where he came from, and how he's become [from] where he was at. That was a great thing that we had.

"And obviously, Rex's [Ryan] time with the Ravens, he spoke about that. And Rob [Ryan] – the 'Chasing Greatness' with those guys, we talked about Buddy Ryan, who I think is the defensive innovator in the NFL. I think he was one of the greatest coordinators, if not the greatest coordinator, of all time in the NFL. We really wanted champions from all walks of life. They all had a common message, and that was cool; different eras, different sports, different arenas, and I think they all knocked it out. It was great."

They always talk about rookies and the level of difficulty in making an immediate impact at certain positions. You're having a first-round pick [LB Patrick Queen] trying to become a starter at MIKE. Is the transition, to what you entail and the responsibility you put for middle linebacker, is that a little bit more difficult than, maybe just when you say, 'Go out to corner, and you're just going to defend a wide receiver?' Is it more difficult to make an immediate impact at a position like the MIKE? (Jamison Hensley) "That's a good question. I think that it's going to be a challenge for him because of the practice time that he's missed. But I know in just speaking with him and being in meetings with him, I think this kid can handle it. We're lucky that we drafted a smart, and then driven player. He's going to rise to this challenge. Will it be perfect? No, but we don't expect that coming out as a rookie. The thing of it is, you can see that he doesn't repeat errors. You can see that in games. On something that he did wrong, you can see him fix it within a game when you are studying his college tape. I can't wait to get him going. If you're going to make mistakes … It's just like I told him, 'If you are going to make a mistake, make it a 100 miles per hour mistake.' We can live with that."

I'm curious about CB Tavon Young's offseason. Does he seem healthy? What are your expectations for him, considering the injuries? (Aaron Kasinitz) "He looks healthy on the computer. (laughter) He says he's healthy. He's ready to go. Tavon is ready to go, and if he tells me he's ready to go, I believe in him 100 percent. And he'll be ready to go, so I'm excited about that."

When S Geno Stone got picked, everybody talked about his football IQ. Is there a way that you can see that over these virtual meetings? Or is that not something that you can see until you get on the field? Can you draw a comparison, maybe, between he and a guy like S Chuck Clark? Another late-round safety who, again, is praised for his football IQ and his intelligence? (Andrew Gillis) "Yes, I think that you go through the interview process, and when he was in college there at Iowa, our staff said that. We also came up with some innovative tools through Zoom that just confirms what we thought. We have quizzes. We have quiz competitions. We have fun games for them; Jeopardy and Family Feud and Kahoot!, and these different types of games where you can see he's quick, and he answers. We were also able to do a full, virtual walkthrough, which got a little noisy. You know how [senior vice president of communications] Chad [Steele] tells everybody to get on mute, because you've got more guys talking? But we got everybody communicating together, and definitely, the rookies understand the importance of that communication. So, we're right where we want to be going into this."

You talked a little bit about this with DE Calais Campbell and DE Derek Wolfe, but also DT Justin Madubuike. How do you look at this interior pass rush and the potential you guys have in that area of the game? (Ryan Mink) "I think that everybody wants to talk about pass rush. I understand when you talk about four-man pass rush, but we were able to get to the quarterback last year. You guys know how we did it; it's documented. We want football players. We're going to play people to their strengths. If you're a run player, a run-type player, we're going to get you out there when it comes to those situations. As a pass rusher, I think that we've got some flexibility. You've got Derek Wolfe [who] you can move inside. You can move Calais [Campbell] inside [or] outside. There's just different flexibility that you have with everybody. We'll see what we have with Justin [Madubuike]. I'm looking forward to it. The rookie minicamps – guys, you know it – it's like Christmas Day for coaches. You can't wait to see the new toys you have, and what they can do and how much fun it would be to put them in the package. That's just been pushed back."

You've spoken about the "Chasing Greatness" series. You've spoken about making Zoom meetings fun for the players. With all of this going on, what are some things you might want to carry into future years just to help you as a coach, [and] get these players more engaged and more prepared for a regular season? (Matthew Stevens)"I'm a people person kind of guy, but there's nothing more gratifying for me than seeing guys and talking to them – not only in meetings, but outside of meetings and things like that. Obviously, we know with what's going on, we can't do that right now. But what it did open my eyes to is, even more as a coach, the challenge you have in teaching in a different environment and how you can do it. I think that with everybody being quarantined, and being in their homes and everything else, all these people have volunteered to come in and talk to us. I think that you can set up Zoom meetings next year, if we're in OTAs, you can set up Zoom meetings and bring people in that you want to speak to the defense. I think it's really easy to – not really easy – but the people that participated in ours – that's all I can speak on right now – I think they were just as happy to do it as we were getting the knowledge from them and hearing from them. I always talk to the players [about] how knowledge is power in this league. These speakers were generous with their knowledge. It was an open format. I introduced them all and I always had a couple of questions to get it going, but then I turned it over to the players. They asked a lot of good questions. It wasn't one of those things where they felt like they had to ask questions. They asked a lot of good questions."

Your players love playing for you, from what I can tell. As far as Ravens coaches or football coaches go, you seem to really embody the spirit of your players – posing with guys in the end zone, things like that. I'm wondering, how were you doing a week or two ago knowing that so many of your players were angry, sad, tired [and] in pain from the situation going on? (Kirk McEwen) "That was tough. There's no better platform than what they have right now as a player to speak out. I think it's time for all of us to listen, because there is definitely a problem. John [Harbaugh] held a team meeting, and that was awesome. The meeting that he held, the players got to speak out, and talk about their concerns and where they stood on it. To me, it's an important moment in history. I'm proud to be part of an organization from [owner] Steve Bisciotti down that is on the right side of history and standing with Black people and their struggle against police brutality and systemic racism. It was tough to listen. It's a lot of hard conversations. At that time, the best thing that I could do was listen. I want to be part of the positive change. John was great, just like he was in 2017, about hearing out everyone's opinion and giving a platform to our players and coaches to share their experiences. We all need to do our part. We need to listen, speak out and stand together in this fight for justice and equality. But I just want to keep learning and growing. I can use my platform as well to be an advocate for our players and what they believe."

You mentioned Sage Steele and what she brings to the table, her motivation, inspiration. How would you compare and contrast that to someone, say like, I don't know, her brother, [Ravens senior vice president of communications] Chad [Steele]? (Jerry Coleman) "With Sage, you can just tell where the talent went, [where] the looks went. And I'm not talking about Chad. (laughter) I'm just kidding around with Chad. I guess I'll give Chad the hype, but everything else, Sage got. No, she was a Rockstar. It was awesome; it really was. I think it was really cool that she came to the meeting. She's a great person if you all know her, but she's a leader, too, now. She's one of those pioneers. I think it was great that our players got to see that perspective and really, it humanized the media, too."

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