Greg Mattison: The Future of Defense in Baltimore?

Matthew CherryContributor IMay 28, 2009

BALTIMORE - 2008:  Greg Mattison of the Baltimore Ravens poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Getty Images)

One of the strengths for the Baltimore Ravens coming into the 2009 season is the relative lack of change to the coaching staff.

Well, except that whole "Rex Ryan leaving to become the head coach of the New York Jets" thing.

In his place is Greg Mattison, in only his second season in the NFL after a 38-year career. The inevitable question is simple: Can Mattison keep up the tradition of defense that has always been the mainstay of the Ravens?

The answer is yes. Probably.

Why the qualifier? Well, because Mattison just doesn't have the NFL experience to be able to say for certain.

He only has one year NFL experience, but that one year was with the Ravens as the linebackers coach under Ryan, so Mattison does has experience with this defense. Secondly, he can celebrate the return of Ray Lewis.

With Lewis leading the defense, Mattison should have an easy job, so long as he listens to his defense. Few linebackers in the NFL have the leadership or on-the-field play-calling abilities of Lewis, and Mattison needs to take advantage of that.

The Ravens have always had the benefit of a strong defense, and Mattison should take the position of, "If it isn't broke, don't try and fix it." After all, that's what Ryan did when he took over for Mike Nolan before the 2005 season.

Of course, it isn't as if Mattison is coming at this with no experience at all. He has 11 years of coordinator experience at the collegiate level, including the 2006 BCS National Championship Florida Gators.

Will this translate into success at the NFL level? If Mattison keeps his scheme similar to that of last year, listen to leaders like Lewis and Ed Reed, and keeps the energy level high he'll be a success.

If he doesn't do that? Well, the Ravens will still have a strong defense.