New Ravens DC brings a player perspective ahead of season

May 25, 2024

Last season, Baltimore finished No. 1 in points allowed and No. 6 in yards allowed.

Former player and now Ravens defensive coordinator Zach Orr in front of M&T Bank Stadium.

The Baltimore Ravens have a new defensive coordinator in Zach Orr which should be a name fans are very familiar with as the team heads into a new season. Not only has Orr been a linebackers coach for the Ravens, but he was also a key player for the team during the 2016 season as he talks about how comfortable he is in the position under head coach John Harbaugh according to NBC Sports.

“Coach [John] Harbaugh does a great job of putting us in these game-like situations, even as play-callers and as coaches,” Orr said Thursday. “We always do ‘move the ball,’ [and] we do ‘call-it periods,’ where there is no script, you have to call it, and you have to think on the fly and use your play-calling sheet.”

“And just how I prepare,” Orr continued. “I just go back and — when I’m watching the film or watching games from last year — just look at how I would call it, looking at the situation [and] trying to put myself in those shoes. And then, just before practice, just reviewing my play-call sheet and just trying to play out scenarios in my head that could possibly come up.”

Orr talks about bringing a player perspective to coaching the Ravens

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zach Orr (54) reacts after Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter (not pictured) missed a field goal during the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 13-7.Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned before, Orr was a crucial part of the Ravens‘ 2016 defense where he started 15 games, but quickly transitioned into a defensive analyst with the organization in the season after. It has been a fascinating journey for Orr as he talks about combining different perspectives being a former player and then now being a coach.

“When you’re a player, a lot of times, you think you have all the answers,” Orr said. “You’re like, ‘Man, we could do this, we could do that.’ But when you step back and you become a coach and you become a play-caller, you kind of see the bigger picture of things. You’re not just thinking about you’re one particular area or position that you’re playing — you take a step back and think about the whole game.”

There’s no doubt that Orr is being thrown into the deep end with his first regular season game as the Ravens defensive coordinator being a matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Orr recalls the advice Harbaugh gave him which is “everybody in this league is good” according to The Baltimore Banner.

“Everybody in this league is good, and if you’re not prepared and you’re not doing things the right way, you’ll lose and get your butt kicked by anybody in this league,” Orr said. “So you respect the guys. … We respect the team, the quarterbacks, the coordinators that we’re going to face as a defense, but we honestly believe that if we prepare the right way, we play how we’re supposed to play, it’s not going to really matter who we’re playing or when we’re playing them.”

John Harbaugh talks the intelligence of Orr with the Ravens

Orr is not the first Ravens linebackers coach to be promoted to defensive coordinator as Mike Macdonald, Wink Martindale, and Dean Pees were others. What separates Orr is the intelligence as stated by Harbaugh, especially when being a linebackers coach as it apparently gives “an advantage” according to the team’s website.

“Zach is super talented and super enthusiastic,” Harbaugh said. “He’s very smart. He has prepared for that job. He’s in the middle of the defense. I think when you’re a linebackers coach, that’s an advantage because you’re in the middle of the defense and you understand the whole defense inside and out.

“You have a big picture. It helps you with defensive play calling, for sure,” Harbaugh continued. “A linebackers coach usually has an advantage as far as that goes. There’s no reason not to put Zach in that position in my mind right now, and I think he’ll do a great job, but I also think he’ll do a great job because of the support he’s going to get.”

The Ravens are looking to have another successful year after capturing the No. 1 seed, a division title, and a 13-4 record. However, they were knocked out by the Chiefs in the conference championship who as said before, will be their first game of the upcoming season on Thursday, Sept. 5.