Eisenberg: It Wouldn't Be Easy to Leave Baltimore


After a 14-2 regular season, the Ravens obviously would love to keep things just as they are.

But it's easier said than done. One of the rules of life in the NFL is the more you win (games), the more you lose (coaches).

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale both have drawn interest from other teams looking for new head coaches. It isn't surprising. Both have done a terrific job. Other teams naturally want to take a slice of the Ravens' winning formula.

The situation puts both coaches in quite a conundrum. If they leave, they're liable to land in places where – how to put this – the circumstances aren't as ideal. Yet that's where opportunity lies.

Both have said they love where they are and basically would need to receive a jaw-dropping offer even to consider leaving. Well, they should love where they are. The Ravens are a stable, well-run organization. They have a sensible chain of command. Their decision-making is methodical and sound. They develop philosophies and stick to them. They're willing to try new things.

When I spoke to numerous former Ravens this season while putting together my podcast about life after football, I couldn't help noticing how many were so positive about the organization.

Chris Carr played for four NFL teams besides the Ravens and was only here for three of his nine years in the league. But the Ravens, he said, had "the best organization" with "the best coaches, best teammates and best fans." Going to another team, he said, felt like "taking a step down."

I took that to mean he believed the Ravens were a class operation that put winning above all other concerns, which, cough, doesn't always seem to be the case elsewhere. Several other former players offered similar variations on the theme. I wasn't fishing for these compliments. They just rolled out in conversation.

No one is suggesting things in Baltimore are perfect. The Ravens recently sat out the playoffs four times in a five-year span. That wasn't fun.

But I'm talking bigger picture than that.

There are places in the NFL where the decision-making is dubious, or pennies get pinched, or conflicting individual agendas seem to get in the way of winning – places where you almost have to wonder if winning is what they're all about.

Then there are places where you don't wonder about that, where you can see winning is the goal and the decision-makers are working on it, regardless of how things turn out.

The Ravens are in the latter group, no question. Sure, that's easy to say after a 14-2 season, but it was preceded by two Super Bowl wins and 11 playoff appearances between 2000 and 2018. Those didn't happen by accident.

Having made eight NFL assistant coaching stops between them, Roman and Martindale have been around long enough to know a good thing when they see it. They're well aware of the positives of working for the Ravens.

They also know many of the teams looking for new coaches are doing so because things aren't so peachy there, because something fundamental isn't right. And whatever the issue is, the previous head coach couldn't solve it.

I'm sure it's unsettling to contemplate leaving a team with its act together for a team trying to get its act together. It's that "step down" Chris Carr was talking about.

But the opportunity is just so rich, the temptation so great.

An NFL head coaching job is the pinnacle of the profession – a pinnacle few coaches reach, in a profession full of guys who don't run from challenges.

I'm sure the Ravens are going to do everything they can to keep Roman and Martindale. There's no limit on what teams can pay coordinators. But the other 31 teams wouldn't appreciate seeing the pay scale get hiked into the sky.

In the end, it's going to be hard for either to turn down a career-crowning opportunity if one arises. But it's also surely going to be difficult to leave a situation so ideal.

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