The employment profile needs some work, but the basics are there. Finance major, graduated with honors. Master’s in sports management and policy. Certificate in personal and organizational leadership. Skilled at Microsoft Excel and data analysis. Varied work experience (“Caddy, Brookhaven Country Club”). Upward mobility (three promotions in four years). Had a good job at a big state school. Got a better job for a multibillion-dollar organization.

“I haven’t looked at that in a while,” says Mike Macdonald — or, if you know him from LinkedIn, Michael Macdonald. Which makes total sense. When you’re the defensive coordinator of the Ravens, there are better things to do than telling the world where you work. Especially now, when the subject of Macdonald’s next job, wherever it is, has never been more interesting. Especially now, when the focus of Macdonald’s current job — stopping Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, at all costs — has never been more urgent.

So, no, he has not thought about whether he might be the NFL’s first head coach with an active LinkedIn profile. But, yeah, it would be funny.

“Now that I’m aware of it, I’ll probably delete it,” Macdonald, 36, says, grinning as he leans back against a chair in an office at the Ravens’ facility, one more interview in one of the busiest months of his life. “There probably won’t be a Mike Macdonald LinkedIn profile as of three weeks from now if everything calms down.”

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Almost two weeks later, it’s still active. Things have not calmed down. The Ravens are a win away from Super Bowl LVIII. He’s just been asked to interview again for another head coaching vacancy. Each day, more and more people, it seems, are realizing there’s a lot of things you can learn from Mike Macdonald. Or about Mike Macdonald. Here are five you (probably) won’t find on his resume.

1. He’s a longtime fan of fundamentals.

In 2010, Macdonald joined Mark Richt’s coaching staff at Georgia, his alma mater, as a graduate assistant. He hadn’t played football beyond high school, but in college, he’d spent a few years coaching at a nearby inner-city school and ended up catching on under then-Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

A year later, Macdonald started working with linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti, now a Green Bay Packers assistant. Christian Robinson, then a third-year linebacker, remembers Macdonald’s keen eye for detail. “He would be the guy that would come up to me to give me a note, give me an adjustment that was just, ‘Hey, if you can just do this, or focus on this element, you’re going to get it done and you’re going to be able to help us be successful.’”

In mid-November of that year, Georgia was 8-2 entering its Southeastern Conference finale against Kentucky. A home win would secure the SEC East crown and a spot in the conference championship game. All week long, Robinson recalls, the defense had practiced how to defend a specific running play out of a two-back look. All week long, Macdonald had emphasized the importance of Robinson’s run fit.

Robinson wasn’t especially athletic, or even all that healthy, “but Mike was the one that made me feel like I could do it,” he said. Early in the third quarter, the Wildcats lined up in the two-back set that Georgia had seen in practice. It was third-and-1. Georgia was clinging to a 12-10 lead. At the snap, Robinson recognized the play, then spoiled it, forcing Kentucky’s ball carrier to bounce the run outside, where star safety Shawn Williams tackled him for a loss. Teammates mobbed Williams. Macdonald ran up to Robinson. “You did it!” he told him. Even if nobody else in the stadium had noticed his play, Macdonald had. The Bulldogs would go on to win, 19-10.

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“And I think that that’s what always summed Mike up,” Robinson says. “He was always able to notice these little details that maybe not the normal person would see, but would help the team and help us all have the success. And I think that that’s what helped Mike really get started.”

2. He knows he’s not cool.

“I haven’t had a life in 15 years,” Macdonald says, which explains a lot. Like, say, his taste in music. Robinson, now an assistant coach at Baylor, says that when he joined Macdonald on Georgia’s coaching staff a few years later, Macdonald would start each Sunday during the season by blasting the 2008 Kings of Leon album “Only by the Night,” from start to finish.

“Bro, I’m not cool,” Macdonald says when asked about his current preferences. “I don’t, like, know a lot of music.”

Then there are the movie references. Macdonald jokes that he knew he was getting old when he’d quote a Jim Carrey line to a player and get nothing. “Dumb and Dumber,” “The Mask,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” — crickets. (One of his favorites: “Big Gulps, huh? All right. Well, see you later.”)

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Inside linebacker Josh Ross, who played for Macdonald at Michigan in 2021 before landing with the Ravens in 2022, estimates that players understand only about 5% of Macdonald’s pop culture touchstones.

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“I’m not a loser,” Macdonald says, before waiting a beat. “I don’t think. I have a very weird sense of humor.”

“He’s very corny,” says Charlotte defensive coordinator Ryan Osborn, who worked with Macdonald at Michigan and in Baltimore last season as a defensive assistant. “His jokes, I think, are just, like, the worst. But what’s funny about him is, you end up mimicking him.”

Osborn offers an example. Upon hearing an emotionally charged declaration — “I’m about to beat his ass” — Macdonald might add a non sequitur: “And the rest of them!” Or maybe Osborn is showering someone with praise. A classic Macdonald response: “He just looks at you and says, ‘You are.’ And I’m like, ‘What? I am what?’ And then he’ll just go about his business.”

“The guys make fun of me,” Macdonald says. “They go, like, ‘Dude, you’ve got eight jokes.’ But my theory is, the first time you hear them, it’s going to be good. The next 20 times you hear them, it’s probably going to be bad. The 21st, it becomes so redundant that it becomes funny again.”

It’s an awkwardness Macdonald has carried for a while. His dedication to his coaching career was not so all-consuming that he never had time to date. He and his wife, Stephanie, have been together for over eight years and married for over two. But he knows he got lucky.

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“Oh, I’m incredibly awkward in person,” he says. “No game, whatsoever. Zero game. Couldn’t talk to girls.”

It didn’t matter with Stephanie. They always had fun together, and she was understanding of his profession’s demands, Macdonald says, how he would have to go days at a time without seeing her. They travel when they can, but most nights end with one of them dozing off to an episode of “Dateline” or “The Office.”

“I don’t why or know she agreed to it, but she’s the most incredible support system you could ever dream of,” he says. “The absolute, absolute rock star. If I didn’t have her, I don’t know who else would agree to this thing.”

3. He trusts his process.

In 2021, after seven seasons on John Harbaugh’s Ravens staff, Macdonald left to become Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator at Michigan. He’d risen from a coaching intern and defensive assistant under Dean Pees to a position coach under Don “Wink” Martindale, preparing the team’s third-down pressure packages for its weekly game plans, and he was starting to imagine what it would be like to coordinate a defense himself, playing the games out in his head.

“I needed the confidence in the process, you know?” Macdonald says. “The thing that Jim does a great job of is, he kind of lets you cut your teeth and figure it out. You go in with how you think you want to do it, but there’s room there for growth of, ‘Hey, we’ve got to veer this way, veer that way.’

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“And you have an appreciation for the process of what it takes: getting the buy-in, getting the alignment, having the standards, going through the process, all those things that if I would’ve just been thrust in the same role here, I wouldn’t have had those reps and banked them. … Like, ‘I believe in the way that we’re doing things and the way it should look and how it should play and how we practice and the way we communicate’ — all those different things, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”

Macdonald’s turnaround was immediate. Michigan finished No. 13 nationally in defensive efficiency a year after ranking No. 106, per ESPN’s Football Power Index. Ross credits Macdonald for empowering the team’s leaders and implementing a digestible, flexible system. Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who emerged as a first-round talent for the Wolverines in 2021, has said he fell “in love” with Macdonald’s scheme and his role in it.

In 2022, Macdonald returned to Baltimore as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, hired to replace Martindale after a disappointing season led to a parting of ways. Macdonald, never much of a yeller, found that leading an NFL defense required a different disposition than leading a college defense. Even Ross joked the Ravens had gotten a new version of him.

“The guys know, when we’re on tape, ‘Hey, this is the expectation for what we want it to look like. Either this it or it isn’t. It’s that easy. We’ve agreed on what we want it to look like,’” Macdonald says. “And they see when, if they fall short, they’re letting the team down.”

Players saw how much he cared. About them. About his defensive rules. When Macdonald had started his coaching career in Athens, Georgia, as the coach of Cedar Shoals High School’s freshman team, he didn’t know all the plays. But he loved football. It gave him something to learn, something to teach, a team to build. As Macdonald drove kids home after practice, he realized, more and more, what they meant to him and what he meant to them.

“He will listen twice as much as he talks,” Osborn says, “because he wants to process everything.”

At Georgia, Macdonald had bonded with Robinson over a chance encounter between Robinson’s dad and his uncle. He’d joke with rising stars about plays they’d rather forget. In Baltimore, he found himself taking geography quizzes from All-Pro inside linebacker Roquan Smith, whose midseason arrival in 2022 helped turn the Ravens’ defense into one of the NFL’s best. When ESPN’s Chris Berman visited the team’s facility ahead of their divisional-round playoff win over the Houston Texans earlier this month, Macdonald joked with Kyle Hamilton that if the colorful Berman didn’t have a nickname for him, the All-Pro safety hadn’t made it yet.

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Time with his team is part of Macdonald’s process. So is alone time. On his “Punch Line Podcast,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey recalls how, before the Ravens’ Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals, he retreated to the team’s bathroom at State Farm Stadium with an upset stomach, only to come across Macdonald laying on the ground in the locker room, watching film.

“I would say all good coaches are probably very detailed, but not all are detailed to the tee of obsessive,” Humphrey says, “and I think that’s what makes him really good.”

“With a smart guy like that, who works hard like that, who’s in that kind of a circumstance, that’s the result,” John Harbaugh says. “What you see is, he’s just got a really good feel for it. He’s got a feel for the game itself, but he’s also got a great feel for applying the principles that he’s been a part of developing, actually, over the last nine or 10 years.”

4. He doesn’t like attention.

Macdonald used to listen to sports podcasts. Then he’d hear something about the Ravens — wouldn’t even have to be about the defense — and realize he didn’t have the stomach for it. “I’d inevitably get pissed,” he says.

Now he mainly listens to “The Joe Rogan Experience,” the mega-popular podcast hosted by the polarizing comedian and UFC commentator, “because he doesn’t even know what football is,” Macdonald says. “I just learn about weird, old, ancient civilizations and stuff. It gets a little political, but it’s whatever.”

Macdonald finds himself in a strange new world now. A month and a half ago, he returned from the Ravens’ bye to begin one of the most daunting stretches of his career. Five straight games against possible playoff contenders. Matchups with a Super Bowl-winning quarterback (the Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford), a No. 1 overall draft pick (the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence) and two NFL Most Valuable Player candidates (the San Francisco 49ers’ Brock Purdy and Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa). One prime-time audience after another.

Osborn texted Macdonald during the Ravens’ homestretch, asking what it was like to strategize against Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniel. “It’s a [expletive],” Osborn remembers Macdonald telling him.

The Ravens made out just fine, winning four straight and clinching the conference’s No. 1 playoff seed with a Week 17 rout of Miami. There was some poetry to the breakthrough. Fifteen months earlier, after the Ravens had given up 28 fourth-quarter points in a stunning Week 2 home loss to the Dolphins, ESPN analyst Rex Ryan, a former defensive coordinator under Harbaugh, had called Macdonald “terrible.”

Now he’s one of the toasts of the NFL, the next big thing in coaching. A day after the Ravens held Houston without a touchdown for the second game this season, former star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald praised Macdonald’s “unbelievable job” on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.” Next to him was Ryan, smiling and nodding his head: “That kid’s done a great job as a coordinator there.”

“It does seem weird, but it does feel like they are talking about somebody else,” Macdonald says. “I don’t know if that’s, like, healthy or not, or whatever, but I think it started because, probably, the initial press wasn’t good. We struggled last year. And at some point we’re going to struggle again, and people are going to talk shit. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. If we lose a game between here and the Super Bowl, you’re going to hear it. So it doesn’t matter. It matters how you respond about the next thing. So you’re used to kind of disassociating yourself with what they’re saying, and I think maybe that is healthy.”

Macdonald does not like the attention, does not like the adulation. The irony of his rise, of course, is that the higher he soars, the hotter the takes get. He is at once wary of outsize praise for coaches and coordinators and at peace with the sport’s buck-stops-here realities.

“The longer you’re in it, the more you realize that it’s not you, so why would you take credit for something that is not necessarily your thing?” Macdonald says. “Now, being in a leadership position, when it doesn’t go right, it is your responsibility. But that’s the price you pay, you know? And you realize how much work these people that are working with you do, and it is uncomfortable because you’re saying, ‘These people should be getting credit for this as well,’ because it’s not me, it’s all the players, it’s all our support staff. I was those guys. And you’re working incredibly hard. And you don’t anticipate getting credit for it when you’re coming up through the ranks. But that is real work that’s getting done that makes a difference.”

5. He doesn’t (or didn’t) own a suit.

When the requests for head coaching interviews started rolling in after the regular season — the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders, Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans, with the Falcons reportedly requesting a second interview Monday — Macdonald had to buy a jacket for the virtual interviews. As of 12 days ago, he didn’t have a suit to wear.

Macdonald is still figuring this thing out, the coaching part of it and then everything around it. When the subject of legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban’s recent retirement comes up, Macdonald jokes that after the Ravens’ staff devised their rules for their defense, Macdonald checked the team’s playbook against the Crimson Tide’s. “Oh, they’ve already thought this through,” he remembers realizing.

“He’s one of the best coaches of all time, if not the best,” Macdonald says, and there are traces of Saban’s influence in the defense’s processes. But the Ravens do things their own way, unapologetically themselves.

Near the end of an interview, Macdonald looks at the door, cracked open by a team official looking to move the coordinator onto his next obligation. Osborn jokes that Macdonald “has a really funny way of ending a conversation without being rude.” He’ll look at you, but also through you. To whatever’s behind you. To whatever’s waiting ahead.

“I think a lot of these guys like Mike, that are able to get to the heart of the issue, know what has to be done, but are seeing that, ‘I can get it done differently,’” Robinson says. “Isn’t that the whole goal, to be something different than anybody else and to create your own niche and to be able to do it your way? And people have to bend and conform to be like you, and you become the standard? I think Mike is somebody that is extremely consistent. Obviously, he’s caring. And he sees things. And he’s been preparing this whole time.”

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring. 

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