BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh introduced Mike Macdonald by noting his new defensive coordinator is not a stranger.
"This is somebody that we know, has been with us for many years, through many, many battles, trials and tribulations, and some great moments," he said.
Macdonald, who spent seven seasons in the organization, is returning after a successful one-year stint running the defense at the University of Michigan under Harbaugh's brother Jim. And he plans to be aggressive, keeping with the Ravens' tradition of stout defenses.
"It's about keeping the offense off balance, where they're not really believing what they're seeing on a down-to-down basis," he said.
Macdonald's goal is to "create doubt at all times," making the necessary adjustments on the fly and deploying disguised looks, pressures and coverages.
"You want to be the one pushing the envelope rather than the other way around," he said.
In Ann Arbor, Macdonald inherited a defense that ranked 87th in yards per game and 95th in scoring defense. After installing Macdonald's scheme, Michigan jumped to 20th in total defense (330.8 yards per game) and 8th in scoring defense (17.36 points per game).
Reflecting on that success Wednesday, Macdonald said he built his defense to highlight two of his best pieces, edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, both projected first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
"It's just a willingness to try to keep putting your players in the best position so they can succeed," he said. "If you let that guide your decision process, you end up in a pretty decent spot."
Prior to leaving for Jim Harbaugh's staff, Macdonald served as a defensive assistant with the Ravens from 2015 to 2016, as a defensive backs coach in 2017, and as a linebackers coach from 2018 to 2020. He joined the team as a defensive intern in 2014.
His coaching career started while he was a student at Centennial High School in Roswell, Georgia.
"Well, in high school I wasn't very good [as a player]," he said. "So I actually end up getting hurt and started coaching and started looking at it through that lens."
While attending the University of Georgia, he coached the linebackers and running backs at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, Georgia from 2008 to 2009, and filled multiple roles with the Bulldogs from 2010-2013.
Harbaugh said he conducted multiple interviews for the job after he and Don "Wink" Martindale, the coordinator since 2018, agreed to part ways. What drew him to Macdonald was his history growing up as a coach in the organization and understanding the culture, and more specifically, his role in revamping the defense when Martindale first took over.
"Mike, on the ground floor of that rebuild, was very integral in the way we've built the defense and the way it runs right now," he said.
Of course there's also the success of Michigan under his watch. The Wolverines went 12-2, won the Big Ten for the first time since 2004 and earned their first trip to the College Football Playoff in the 2021 season. Harbaugh said he was impressed by the way Macdonald developed more of a pro-style defense and adjusted coverages from week to week based on the opponent.
"You've got to keep it moving. You've got to have enough tools in the tool bag. You've got to have answers for what people are going to do," he said. "From one week to the next, you're going against an Aaron Rodgers, you're going against a big running game, you're going against Joe Burrow."
Macdonald said he plans to keep another trait he learned from Martindale: over communication.
"If you can go over the situation with the guys, let them know what you're going to call in certain situations and they're on the same page, you find the execution is better," he said.
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