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Analysis: Concepts the Ravens LBs coach might bring as Michigan’s new DC

Baltimore’s playoff win was under the microscope by Michigan fans on Sunday afternoon.

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple outlets have reported that Baltimore Ravens LBs coach Mike Macdonald will be Michigan’s next defensive coordinator, but he still has a job to do before he heads to Ann Arbor.

Macdonald will be sticking with the Ravens for their playoff run, which will be continuing into the NFL Divisional Round after beating the Tennessee Titans 20-13 on Sunday.

The Ravens defense, along with Macdonald’s linebackers, buckled down enough to win a game that turned out to be a battle.

From a philosophical standpoint, the Ravens defense is similar to the one Michigan’s had in recent year under Don Brown. Any type of man-to-man and blitz-centric team needs to have players that can cover well and get to the quarterback fast. The Ravens have the ability to do that.

The Ravens D was No. 1 in blitz percentage this season at 44.1%, and it’s reasonable to think some of the tenants of Baltimore DC Wink Martindale’s scheme will be part of the defense Macdonald runs at Michigan.

Overall, the Ravens are a well-coached defensive unit that understands a specific kind of gameplan on a given week, and goes about implementing that gameplan at a high level. A major example of this was during their game against the Titans and RB Derrick Henry, who rushed for 2,027 yards this season. The Ravens d-line and linebackers really came up big and bottled up Henry all day long. In all, Henry had just 40 yards on 18 carries, and the Titans had only 209 yards of total offense. Linebacker Pernell McPhee led the team with 6 tackles (5 solo), and the LB unit didn’t make many miscues or lapses in coverage on the day playing man coverage and usually took the proper depth when zone coverage was implemented. The Ravens secondary fared well in pass-coverage, but a couple big plays were given up by Marlon Humphrey to A.J. Brown (one of which was a TD) where Brown outmuscled Humphrey.

From a Ravens insider, we were told that Macdonald is a hard-nosed guy that can coach young players up well, specifically rookie linebacker Patrick Queen who’s had a great year with 102 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 INT. A major part of the college game is developing young players and make sure things aren’t getting lost in translation in the learning process.

Execution and coaching both became major problems for Michigan’s defense under defensive coordinator Don Brown. Self-inflicted penalties and lapses in awareness became commonplace under Brown, and those same miscues on a weekly basis are not who the Baltimore Ravens are.

Macdonald comes from a winning culture with a fight for every yard mentality, he’s learned under one of the best defensive coordinators in professional football. The report of Macdonald’s hiring along with an impressive performance from the Ravens D just days later coincide together well. Most experts didn’t predict Henry to become a non-factor in the game, most people expect the Ravens to lose. It was certainly a good day for Macdonald and the Ravens. If Macdonald can bring the same type of cohesion, blitzing creativity, and coaching cohesion on that side of the ball then maybe brighter days can be ahead for the defensive unit.