New Ravens defensive coordinator Zach Orr: ‘Everything we’re going to do is going to be with physicality’

OWINGS MILLS — New Ravens defensive coordinator Zach Orr plans to coach from the sideline as opposed to the booth so he can see the intensity in his players’ eyes.

“People have their different ways, [but] I have to be on the field,” Orr said. “I’m more into it and getting the feel off of emotion and how guys are really feeling out there.” 

Orr replaced Mike Macdonald, who was named the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks on January 31st.  Orr plans to maintain the team’s aggressive approach when it comes to attacking offenses.

It’s a mentality he learned as a player for the Ravens and then rising through the team’s coaching ranks.

“I want it to be violent – very violent [and] physical,” Orr said at his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “That’s just the standard here. Everything we’re going to do is going to be with physicality and violence. Then, just execution – executing at a high level, executing in certain situations [and] executing all the time. Then the last thing I’ll leave you with is I would say, ‘Organized chaos.’ Present a lot of problems to the offense.”

One of his first orders of business will be filling coaching vacancies on his staff, including on the defensive line to replace Anthony Weaver, who became the defensive coordinator in Miami; defensive backfield to replace Dennard Wilson, the new defensive coordinator in Tennessee; and his former job as inside linebackers coach.

“We have to get ready to get some more coaches in here,” he said. “Credit to the coaches that got opportunities at other places. They’re heck of coaches, and that’s why they got those opportunities, but now we’re just going through that process of figuring out who’s going to come in and do a heck of a job for us and also get in the self-scout stuff getting ready to go.”

After his retirement as a player in 2016 because of a congenital neck/spine condition, Orr transitioned to coaching with the Ravens as a personnel assistant (2017-18) and then as a defensive coaching analyst (2019-20) before becoming the inside linebackers coach. He credited owner Steve Bisciotti, former general manager Ozzie Newsome, and Harbaugh with helping expedite the transition from player to coach.

“I got right back to work, and they helped teach me and got me ready for my second career, which is coaching,” Orr said. “They’ve been with me every step of the way and supported me every step of the way.” 

Over the past two seasons, Orr worked closely with inside linebackers Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith, who were the only duo in the NFL to post at least 130 tackles apiece last season. The continuity should be beneficial to the defense.

“I have an immense amount of respect for ‘ZO’ and the way he goes about work, day-in and day-out,” Smith said. “While it’s unfortunate that his career was cut short due to an injury, I feel like he carries that passion over to the game of football and coaching. You don’t know which day will be your last, so you have to give everything you have while you have it; I see he lives by that.”

This past year, the Ravens became the first team in league history to finish a season ranking No. 1 in each of the following categories: points allowed (16.5 points per game), sacks (60) and takeaways (31, tied with the New York Giants).

Orr plans to maintain many elements of that system because it has taken years to refine that style of play.

“We definitely want to build on that,” he said. “That’s a scheme that we helped build here for years. We’re always looking to get better. I think that’s why you’ve seen great defenses here in the past. That’s what we’ve got to continue.”

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