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Zach Orr Feels Confident Being a First-Time Play Caller

Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr
Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr

Being a play caller isn't something that new Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr just started thinking about.

It will be Orr's first time calling plays, but he's been preparing for the possibility for years and is excited about the opportunity.

"I've seen it done, I've been a part of it, and what makes me confident is my preparation I'm going to put in," Orr said. "I'm going to prepare my butt off.

"That's where confidence comes in. Anything you do, if you're not confident you can do the job, it means you haven't prepared. If you prepare the right way, how you're supposed to prepare, you're going to be confident. I plan on preparing the right way."

Orr isn't concerned about being the NFL's second-youngest coordinator at age 31, nor is he worried about calling defensive plays. He knocks down challenges the way he knocked down ball carriers playing linebacker for the Ravens.

He was an undrafted rookie in 2014 who became an All-Pro two years later. When his playing career ended prematurely due to a congenital neck/spine condition, Orr quickly pivoted to a career in coaching and has quickly ascended in the profession.

Three years ago, in his one year away from Baltimore as the Jacksonville Jaguars as their outside linebackers coach, another coach told Orr he should start watching film like he was going to be calling plays. And in his two years as the Ravens' linebackers coach, he watched how Macdonald handled the job.

"What we do a great job here is, everybody's in a collaborative effort going into the game," Orr said. "Obviously, the coordinator's going to have the final say-so, but we all have game plan areas, we watch all the film together, we come up with our own ideas and bring it to the table. Everybody's voice is heard.

"About three years ago people were telling me if you have aspirations of being a coordinator, when you're watching the film on your own you need to start seeing how you would call the game, who you would stop certain game plans and schemes, and how you attack certain schemes. I always did that."

Head Coach John Harbaugh has seen Orr's diligence as an inside linebackers coach and thinks has seen the qualities to have success calling plays.

"I think he's been studying that and how to do that all the way through. In talking to him, I have a comfort level that he'll be good at it, but he has to go do it. There's no doubt about it," Harbaugh said at last week's end of season press conference. "Again, he's going to get support not just from the veteran coaches but also the young coaches that are going to help set up those gameplans and make sure that all the bases are covered that way."

After seeing two coordinators with different personalities handle the role, it's Orr's turn at the wheel. He loved being close to the action as a player and that won't change as a coordinator. Orr confirmed he'll call plays from the sideline, not upstairs in the press box where some coordinators prefer to work. For Orr, that wasn't a hard decision.

"I've got to be on the field," Orr said. "I've got to look players in the eyes, see what's going on, get a feel for how guys are feeling. People have their different ways. I've got to be on the field."

Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker coach Zach Orr answers questions during a news conference after the NFL football teams practice, Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Owings Mills, Md.

577: Zach Orr on the Mindset His Defense Will Have, Going from Player to Coach, and His 'Wild' Journey

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr joins Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing to talk about how he landed his new job, what he envisions for his defense, the sudden end to his playing career, and how that motivated him as a coach.

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