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Michigan closing deal to make former Giants DC Wink Martindale the national champs’ new defensive coordinator: source

Wink Martindale is close to landing a gig with the national champions. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Wink Martindale is close to landing a gig with the national champions. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

LAS VEGAS — Wink Martindale is going from Big Blue to Go Blue.

The Michigan Wolverines are closing a deal to hire the former Giants defensive coordinator to take over the same post with the reigning national champions, according to a source.

Martindale, 60, is a home run hire for new Michigan head coach Sherrone Moore.

His Baltimore Ravens defenses ranked second, third and second in scoring, respectively, from 2018 through 2020. The Ravens won the AFC North twice in that span and went to the playoffs all three years.

His 2022 Giants defense paced the team’s 6-1 start and the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2016 with significant improvements on third down (from No. 16 in the NFL to No. 5) and in the red zone (from No. 9 to No. 5).

His 2023 Giants defense tied for the NFL lead in takeaways (31) and scored three touchdowns on pick-sixes. That included 11 takeaways in a three-game span from Weeks 11-14 to pace a three-game winning streak that prevented the bottom from falling out on a 2-8 start.

Martindale is also the only NFC defensive coordinator ever to beat Ravens two-time MVP Lamar Jackson (20-1) in Jackson’s 21 games against teams from that conference. His Giants forced two fourth quarter takeaways to beat Baltimore, 24-20, in Week 6 of the 2022 season.

He was a free agent after resigning from the Giants in early January. He is one of eight Giants coaches in the past month who either got fired or voluntarily left Brian Daboll’s staff.

Former Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, who was fired after the season, just landed as Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new special teams coordinator, as well.

Martindale brings an NFL pedigree and a familiar scheme to Moore’s Wolverines.

Recent Michigan defensive coordinators Mike McDonald (Seattle Seahawks head coach) and Jesse Minter (L.A. Chargers defensive coordinator) both worked on Martindale’s Ravens defensive staff under Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh before flexing their play-calling muscles in Ann Arbor, Mich.

So Martindale’s blitz-heavy, man-to-man scheme will give Moore’s Michigan players and program some consistency on that side of the ball.

McDonald and Minter both worked for Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, at Michigan. Jim Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a national championship this past season, got hired as the Chargers’ new head coach and took Minter with him.

Martindale, interestingly enough, was born in Dayton, Ohio, and now will coach against the Ohio State Buckeyes in one of college football’s greatest rivalries.

It was surprising that Martindale did not land one of the NFL’s defensive coordinator vacancies with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys among the intriguing openings.

But joining Michigan puts him in a prominent position to win football games in the national spotlight and make a long run in college or an eventual return to the pros.