The Ravens are known for having an in-your-face, we’re-coming-after-you kinda defense.
And that’s exactly the kind of defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is.
When announcing the hiring of Martindale last week, Head Coach John Harbaugh said his new coordinator’s “aggressive mentality will serve to take our defense to new levels.”
So where does Martindale get it from?
“I think it’s my personality. I would rather attack than I would sit back,” Martindale said in his first one-on-one interview since being hired. “We’re always going to try to be the aggressors and dictate the game to [opponents].”
Last season, the Ravens blitzed 27 percent of the time in passing situations. On third down, it was 35 percent, which was the eighth-highest mark in the league.
In Martindale’s one previous year as a defensive coordinator in 2010 in Denver, the Broncos blitzed on 47 percent of passes.
On Thursday, Martindale was asked how he's different than the man he's replacing, retiring Dean Pees.
"I think personality wise and just calls," Martindale said. "There will be some things that are the same. Then there are going to be sometimes where I am going to pressure more. I think I have a more aggressive personality in calling a game."
Martindale has been shaped by some of the most aggressive defensive coaches the NFL has seen in the Ryan family. Martindale coached with Rex Ryan at the University of Cincinnati before he went on to become very popular later as a bold defensive coordinator in Baltimore. In his first NFL job, Martindale coached linebackers under Rob Ryan with the Oakland Raiders. Martindale also said their father, Buddy, had a huge influence on him. "I called a game at Western Kentucky, and [Buddy] was standing next to me on the sideline at a playoff game – so you want to talk about pressure, that was a little bit of pressure – not blitzing when he wanted to blitz," Martindale said.
Pressuring quarterbacks on passing downs comes with the hope of causing one of three scenarios: a sack, interception or turnover.
Last season, the Ravens led the league in interceptions (22). They were tied for 11th in sacks (41). Only six teams held quarterbacks to a lower passer rating when blitzing on passing situations.
So the Ravens generally found success when bringing the heat and even when not. Martindale said pressure can come from a four-man rush sometimes just as easily as a six- or seven-man blitz. He conceeded that he was "somtimes too aggressive" in Denver.
"That is some of the things I have learned from the past," Martindale said. "There is that fine line of what quarterback you are playing and things of that nature.”
But with that said, he's not going to change who he is and what the Ravens are all about. The Ravens won’t undergo a scheme change under Martindale, and his overall outlook on what he wants his defense to be isn’t all that much different.
“[It will be a defense] that’s smart, tough and plays fast every single play,” he said. “I’ll be confident, I’ll be humble, and I know the fans are excited about seeing these players attack.”