Skip to main content

Zach Orr Loves His Transition to Coaching

ILB Coach Zachary Orr
ILB Coach Zachary Orr

Zach Orr still looks like he could play, but his love for coaching is obvious.

The Ravens' new inside linebackers coach approaches his craft with the same intensity that helped him thrive as a player. As an an undrafted free agent in 2014, Orr made the Ravens roster and quickly became a starter and second team All-Pro in 2016.

A congenital neck/spine condition discovered in 2017 forced Orr to retire prematurely after just three seasons, but he quickly pivoted to a career in coaching. He was as a defensive analyst on Head Coach John Harbaugh's staff for three years, then after a season as the Jacksonville Jaguars' outside linebackers coach in 2021, the Ravens brought Orr back this offseason to coach their inside linebackers.

It's a great fit for Orr, working with young players like Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison and Kristian Welch who are trying to maximize their talent like Orr did. Though he leans on his experience as a former NFL player, coaching brings new challenges that Orr has embraced.

"As a player, I understood the game pretty well, but coaching is a whole different deal," Orr said. "It's not what you know, it's what can you teach the players and what they can retain."

Orr is just 29 years old, and it's clear at OTAs that he can still move like a linebacker. Does he think he could still play in the NFL?

"Not anymore," Orr said smiling. "The first probably year or two, I did. But now, I'm like, 'This is crazy.' I couldn't compete with these guys right now, so I have no itch.

"I've fully transitioned into straight coaching. I know I played, but I kind of forget that I played now in that sense. It's great that I'm in that mind space, because I think that it allows me to be the best coach I could possibly be."

Orr built great relationships during his time in Baltimore, but he took nothing for granted when he interviewed for the job this offseason.

Harbaugh loved the passion that Orr played with and says he brings that same approach to coaching.

"He's always got that fire," Harbaugh said. "You could always count on Zach. If you asked him his opinion, he's telling it to you. You appreciate that, because he's got conviction.

"I see confidence all the time, and now I see even growing competence. He really has learned the game. He [was] a very smart player, who's taken the time to study and learn the game, and he's become a good teacher. He breaks things down well and presents it to the guys very well. He's doing a really good job."

Queen says Orr's enthusiasm is contagious in the linebackers room. With his effervescent personality, it's not hard for Orr to command an audience.

"He brings energy every day in the meeting room; he's the main one hollering and stuff, trying to get our attention," Queen said. "Hats off to him for the way he's coaching. Learning from a guy that did it at the highest level. I'm extremely thankful."

Orr's youth creates an interesting dynamic, because he's younger than some of the players he's coaching. At 32 years old, inside linebacker Josh Bynes is three years older than Orr, who was once a teammate. Orr and Bynes occasionally tease each other about how much things have changed. But Orr loves his new career, and having a vet like Bynes to help him lead the inside linebackers.

"I was one of his rookies. I was getting candy and stuff for him," Orr said. "Last year, being in Jacksonville, in my room, I coached guys that were older than me. They're going to [show] respect as long as a coach is going to be prepared, and they know that a coach can help them get better.

"I think that I'm showing Josh that. That's something that I've got to continue to do. But it's been great. Having Josh in the room is obviously wonderful, because he's a football savant."

Related Content