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Ravens Insider: Titans, after firing Mike Vrabel, reportedly request to interview Ravens DC Mike Macdonald for head coach opening


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Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald continues to draw interest from other teams around the NFL.

On Tuesday, Titans general manager Ron Carthon told reporters hours after coach Mike Vrabel was fired that Tennessee was “going to hit the ground running” in its search for a replacement. A day later, the team requested permission to interview Macdonald for the opening, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

After the Ravens (13-4) finished with the NFL’s best record during the regular season, becoming the first team in NFL history to lead the league in sacks (60), takeaways (31) and points allowed per game (16.5), Macdonald has become one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the league.

Already, the Washington Commanders and Carolina Panthers have requested permission to interview the 36-year-old, who is in his second year as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator and has transformed Baltimore’s defense into the best in the NFL. He was already viewed across the league as one of the game’s brightest young minds coming into this season, and that reputation has only been enhanced since.

“I think we have a bunch of coaches who are going to be coordinators and head coaches on this staff who are going to be very successful for a long time,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday as the team began preparations for the divisional round Jan. 20-21. “Any opportunity they get I support, and I’m excited for them to have those opportunities.”

Harbaugh also alluded to some coaches on his staff as having one, two or three interviews, which would point to Macdonald.

The Ravens have a long-standing policy of not commenting specifically on whether another team has requested an interview with a member of their organization, though several staff members have been targeted for interviews by other teams, including offensive coordinator Todd Monken and associate head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver. The Panthers also announced they have sought permission to interview Ravens vice president of football administration Nick Matteo for their general manager opening, while Baltimore’s director of player personnel, Joe Hortiz, has also been rumored to be a candidate for general manager openings.

While no in-person interviews with a coach currently working for another team can be held until after the divisional round of the playoffs, virtual interviews can take place. General manager interviews, meanwhile, can begin immediately.

Macdonald, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Georgia in 2010, joined Baltimore as a coaching intern in 2014 and has quickly worked his way up the ranks. After two years as a defensive assistant, he was promoted to defensive backs coach in 2017, then linebackers coach the next year. In 2021, he took a job as Michigan’s defensive coordinator under Harbaugh’s younger brother Jim and built one of college football’s best defenses before returning to the Ravens in 2022 to be their defensive coordinator following the departure of Don “Wink” Martindale.

When asked late last month if he’d received any calls from interested teams, Macdonald simply shook his head and laughed.

“It’s hard to ignore, and it’s an honor to hear about it,” he said then. “It’s such a unique opportunity when it does come up. For guys that know me, I’m a one-track guy. It’s very difficult for me to do two things at once, so you try your best to focus on the things we need to focus on, which is the next game and getting our guys in position to win. To have that opportunity or have your name come up like that, it’s really a reflection of our coaches and our staff together.”

The Titans were 54-45 over six seasons under Vrabel, though just 13-21 the past two seasons, missing the playoffs both times.

The departure of Vrabel, a former linebacker and assistant coach with the New England Patriots, also comes four years after Tennessee stunned the top-seeded Ravens in the divisional round of the 2019 playoffs, 28-12, after quarterback Lamar Jackson led Baltimore to a 14-2 mark in the regular season and was unanimously chosen as as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Others the Titans have reportedly requested permission to speak with include Las Vegas Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.

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