Age Is Just a Number for Mike Macdonald, the NFL's Youngest Defensive Coordinator

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald and Head Coach John Harbaugh

Mike Macdonald is becoming a season pro at buying and selling houses with his moves from Baltimore to Michigan and back to Baltimore the past couple years.

But he has just one year of experience as a defensive coordinator and that came at the college level. Now he's the youngest defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Head Coach John Harbaugh hired Macdonald over more experienced candidates, including some on his own staff, because he has seen Macdonald grow up in Baltimore – starting as a coaching intern in 2014 and working his way up to linebackers coach before departing for Michigan a year ago.

When Macdonald returned for his interview to be the Ravens' next defensive coordinator, he sealed the deal with his detailed plan on how he would improve Baltimore's storied unit.

"I was able to see his thought process, in terms of the way he built a defense on his own," Harbaugh said Wednesday.

"He took the defense and structured it and was able to teach me that, relay that to me, show me how he did it, how he solved the problems that the college game presented and that the pro game presents. … In the end, that was what did it for me."

At 34 years old, Macdonald is took the distinction of the league's youngest D-coordinator from the Tennessee Titans' Shane Bowen, who did a good job in his first year on the job in 2021 (sixth in points allowed per game and top-10 in takeaways and sacks).

The NFL's youngest head coach, Sean McVay (36) is heading to Super Bowl LVI. He was hired by the Rams at just 30 years old.

Harbaugh had no hesitation hiring someone so young.

"It really didn't cross my mind," Harbaugh said. "There are a lot of great, young coaches in the NFL. There are a lot of head coaches, right now, that are very young in the NFL that are doing well. Sean McVay, gosh. To me, age is just a number. I don't care if it's a low number, or a high number, it's a number. So, it's what you bring, what you contribute, how you are and how you do the job."

Macdonald said he didn't know when he was hired that he was the youngest DC in the NFL.

"It's really just the opportunity. It has nothing to do with age," he said. "We're going to be judged by what shows up on tape. Thirty-four now, this is a dream come true. But we have a big responsibility here to play a certain style of ball and to win games and help the team win. That's really what our focus is on."

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