Ravens Reportedly Part Ways With Linebackers Coaches Rob Ryan and Drew Wilkins, Exploring Zachary Orr As Replacement
The Ravens switched coordinators, and that's not the only changes coming on the defensive coaching staff.
The Ravens are parting ways with Inside Linebackers Coach Rob Ryan after one season, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora and The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec reported.
Zrebiec also reported Friday morning that Outside Linebackers Coach Drew Wilkins is not returning.
The Ravens have not confirmed either departure.
Former Ravens linebacker and defensive coaching analyst Zachary Orr is a candidate to replace Ryan, according to Zrebiec. Orr is reportedly scheduled to interview Monday.
Ryan replaced Mike Macdonald last offseason after Macdonald left to become Michigan's defensive coordinator. Macdonald returned to the Ravens as their new defensive coordinator last week.
Wilkins has spent the past 12 years with the Ravens, starting as an intern in 2010. He spent the past two seasons as the team's outside linebackers coach.
Orr is currently the Jacksonville Jaguars' outside linebackers coach, but it remains to be seen how the Jags' staff will change under new head coach Doug Pederson. Orr played three seasons for the Ravens and was a second-team All-Pro in 2016.
Orr retired the following offseason because of a congenital spine condition and joined the Ravens' coaching and personnel staffs. After four seasons as a coach in Baltimore, Orr joined the Jaguars' staff this past offseason.
Akiem Hicks Among Defensive Linemen Ravens Could Target in Free Agency
The popular opinion is that the Ravens need to get younger and more explosive on the defensive line.
It's likely the team will address the position in the draft, but free agency also is an option. Ebony Bird’s Justin Fried identified several free-agent defensive linemen the Ravens could target.
The most recognizable name on the list is veteran Akiem Hicks of the Chicago Bears, although he doesn't necessarily fit into the "younger and more explosive" category.
"The former Pro Bowler battled a nagging groin injury in 2021 but was still very effective when on the field," Fried wrote. "There's a reason Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 1 interior defensive lineman on the open market this offseason and the No. 18 overall free agent. Hicks makes even more sense for the Ravens if Calais Campbell retires where he would be able to fill Campbell's veteran role on the defensive line."
The argument against Hicks is that he'll turn 33 during the 2022 season and has missed significant time due to injury two of the past three seasons.
The aforementioned groin injury (as well as an ankle injury and one week on the COVID-19 list) limited him to nine games this past season. Hicks played in just five games in 2019 due a dislocated elbow.
PFF's contract projection for Hicks is two years, $17 million ($8.5 million per year, $12.5 million total guaranteed).
Here's a look at three other players on Fried's list:
Maliek Collins, Houston Texans
"Despite having over 80 career starts under his belt, Collins will actually only be 27 years old at the start of the 2021 season, so he still has plenty left in the tank. He's a reliable run defender who offers more pass-rush upside than most of the players on this list. Collins could be an affordable veteran target for the Ravens this offseason."
Harrison Phillips, Buffalo Bills
"A torn ACL caused him to miss almost all of 2019 and he hasn't played 16 games since his rookie season . Still, when on the field, Phillips has been impressive. The Stanford product finished with the 14th-best PFF grade among all interior defensive linemen in the NFL in 2021. Phillips' injury history should allow the Ravens, or any team, to get him at a reduced price. And if he stays healthy, he could end up as one of the steals of free agency."
B.J. Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
"[Hill] broke out in 2021, recording a career-high 5.5 sacks and 12 QB hits while playing a very important role in the Bengals' defensive line rotation. He even recorded a key interception in Cincinnati's thrilling AFC Championship victory over the Chiefs. Hill's stellar 2021 season could see his market inflate, but he should still be on the more affordable side."
Is Joe Flacco Too Low in Super Bowl Quarterback Rankings?
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal ranked all 65 Super Bowl quarterbacks, and the Ravens' Joe Flacco and Trent Dilfer came in at Nos. 49 and 61, respectively.
The rankings were based on career achievements, with regular-season excellence, All-Pro/Pro Bowl appearances and seasons as top-five and top-10 players at the position carrying more weight than just Super Bowl success.
Given that criteria, it's understandable that Flacco — who had an amazing postseason run in 2012 that culminated in him being named Super Bowl MVP and is 10-5 all-time in the postseason — was ranked well below current and future Hall of Famers, MVPs and multi-time Pro Bowlers. Flacco never made the Pro Bowl or led the league in a major statistical category.
That said, Flacco still probably should've been ranked higher. He has a 98-78 career record as a starter, is No. 19 on the all-time passing yards list and started all 16 games in nine of his first 10 seasons in Baltimore.
Yet he is ranked below players such as Kerry Collins, Jim Plunkett, Chris Chandler, Billy Kilmer, Brad Johnson and Mark Rypien.