The Ravens on Wednesday announced that Willie Taggart has been hired as the team’s running backs coach and that assistant Tee Martin has been named quarterbacks coach, the staff’s first changes since Todd Monken was hired as offensive coordinator last week.
Head coach John Harbaugh will also have a new strength and conditioning coordinator in 2023, as the Ravens have parted ways with Steve Saunders and promoted Scott Elliott to fill the position.
Martin, 44, who joined the Ravens’ staff in 2021 as wide receivers coach, replaces James Urban as quarterbacks coach. Urban, who has worked with Lamar Jackson since they both arrived in 2018, currently remains on staff, although the staff shake-up suggests he could be headed elsewhere or reassigned. Both Urban and Martin reportedly interviewed for the Ravens’ offensive coordinator position, while Martin was reportedly a coordinator candidate for the Indianapolis Colts.
“I am excited for Tee to take on the responsibility of being our quarterbacks coach,” Harbaugh said in a statement of Martin, a former Tennessee quarterback who served as a passing game coordinator at Kentucky and Southern California. “Tee has coached every aspect of the passing game and has played and coached the quarterback position at the highest levels. A dynamic and dedicated coach, he is a high-character individual who is uniquely qualified to build upon the foundation and success of our quarterbacks.”
With Martin’s move, the Ravens have a vacancy at wide receivers coach. Keith Williams serves as the team’s pass game specialist and works with players at the position, which has remained a weakness despite the investment of significant draft capital in recent years.
Taggart, 46, has never coached in the NFL. Craig Ver Steeg — who had served as running backs coach since the 2021 season, and has served as an offensive assistant under coach John Harbaugh since he arrived in Baltimore in 2008 — could be reassigned.
“We are excited to welcome Willie to the Ravens as our running backs coach,” Harbaugh said. “Willie has been a highly successful and respected college assistant and head coach. He has a proven track record for developing players as a position coach, as an offensive coordinator and as a head coach. A leader and a highly effective motivator, Willie’s reputation for building strong relationships with his players and fellow coaches will serve our offense well moving forward.”
Taggart has deep ties to the Harbaugh family. Jim Harbaugh recruited him to Western Kentucky to play quarterback for his father, Jack Harbaugh. Taggart later worked on Jack’s Hilltoppers staff and Jim’s Stanford staff, where he served as running backs coach.
Over the past 14 years, Taggart has served as a head coach at five college programs: Western Kentucky (2010-12), South Florida (2013-16), Oregon (2017), Florida State (2018-19) and Florida Atlantic (2020-22). Taggart, who’s 71-80 overall as a head coach, was previously expected to join Deion Sanders’ staff at Colorado.
The Ravens face questions at both quarterback and running back with free agency nearing. Jackson, a pending free agent, is expected to be designated with the franchise tag if the Ravens can’t reach a long-term extension by March 7. Backup Tyler Huntley, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent.
The Ravens have just two running backs under contract in 2023: starter J.K. Dobbins, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry in eight games, and Gus Edwards, who, like Dobbins, came back from a knee injury and rushed for 5 yards per carry in nine games. Edwards could be a salary cap casualty this offseason.
Saunders had worked with the Ravens’ strength and conditioning program since 2016 and had served as head strength and conditioning coach since 2018. He faced scrutiny in recent years for his role in the Ravens’ coronavirus outbreak in 2020 and again in 2021, when a historic injury rate derailed a promising season. Injuries were a concern again this past season, although Harbaugh was encouraged by the team’s health at the end of the season.
“I want to thank Steve for his effort, expertise and contributions to our Ravens teams over the past seven years,” Harbaugh said. “He is one of the finest strength and conditioning coaches in the business. His methods, passion and commitment are well proven throughout his career. Steve helped our players be the strongest and best conditioned athletes they could be. He is an outstanding coach, father, husband and friend. We wish him and his family all the very best going forward with their pursuits.”
Elliott recently completed his fourth season in Baltimore and his second as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. In his new role with the Ravens, Elliott will oversee the Ravens’ strength and conditioning program. Anthony Watson, Ron Shrift and Kaelyn Buskey also remain on staff and will serve as strength and conditioning coaches.