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An In-Depth Look At New Secondary Coach Mark Carrier, Part I

Mark Carrier
Mark Carrier

+As an NFL Player: Mark Carrier was once one of the best young safeties in the league. He was drafted 6th overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He had an astonishing 10 interceptions, 122 tackles, and 5 forced fumbles in his rookie year, making the Pro Bowl easily.

Oddly, Carrier never reached those totals again in his 11 year career. He made the Pro Bowl again in 1991 and 1993, but his career slightly faded and he didn't make it back. After his rookie season, he never posted more than 5 interceptions again. His statistics definitely take a noticeable dip after his first four years, but this doesn't tell the full story. Carrier remained as one of the top safeties in the league. When he signed with the Detroit Lions in 1997, he revived his career, posting 5 interceptions, was the Lions' defensive captain, and made all the calls in the secondary. In 1998, he was defensive co-captain, received the Lions' Joe Schmidt Leadership Award Winner, and was named the NFL's top Free Safety by Sports Illustrated. In 1999, Carrier received the Lions' Leadership Award again, and was also a first alternate in the Pro Bowl. After one final season with the Washington Redskins in 2000, Carrier retired.

Carrier never had a major injury; he only missed 8 starts in his entire career. In fact, he started 108 games in a row, a streak that began when he entered the NFL.

In his career, he posted 32 interceptions (with 370 return yards and one returned for a touchdown), 16 forced fumbles, and 765 tackles.

+As a Coach: After a two year hiatus, Carrier began coaching with Brophy College Prep (Phoenix, Arizona) as the team's secondary coach. He moved to the NCAA in 2004, as the Arizona State Secondary Coach.

2006: Carrier quickly made the jump to the NFL, with the Baltimore Ravens as the defensive backs coach in 2006. On the team already were CB Chris McAllister and S Ed Reed, who both had made the Pro Bowl in 2003 and 2004, but each had a down year in 2005. Carrier brought them both back to the Pro Bowl in 2006, and the Ravens totaled a franchise best 28 interceptions (which also led the league in 2006). 5th-round rookie Dawan Landry also developed nicely, posting 5 interceptions in 14 starts that season. The Ravens pass defense finished 6th in overall yardage allowed.

2007: In his second year with the Ravens, the injury ridden phase of Chris McAllister's career had begun. McAllister only played 8 games, and Carrier chose to use longtime-nickel 3rd cornerback Corey Ivy as his replacement. Ivy played well enough, but the team's passing defense slumped to a 20th overall ranking. Ed Reed posted 7 picks and made it to the Pro Bowl again.

2008: Chris McAllister only played 5 games this season. Dawan Landry also suffered a major head injury and only played 86 snaps the entire year. Even with these major injuries, the team's passing defense stormed upwards to a second overall ranking in passing defense. Ed Reed tied a career high 9 interceptions, and the Ravens led the league with 26 total interceptions. The undrafted safety Jim Leonhard stepped up in placer of Landry and started 13 games, posting 85 tackles. Leonhard had only started 7 games in his career before this season. Cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Samari Rolle (his final year before retiring) both stepped up and played well. They made 22 starts together this season, after only totaling 8 starts together the year before. This year was probably Carrier's best coaching job, leading a team of backups to a 2nd overall ranking. Baltimore's Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan left after this year to coach the New York Jets, but Carrier stayed with the Ravens for one more year. Ryan would later recruit Carrier to become his defensive line coach in 2010.

2009: In Carrier's final year with the Ravens (and most recent as a secondary coach), the Ravens placed 8th in overall passing defense, and 5th in total interceptions. Ed Reed, despite only playing 12 games, made the Pro Bowl again. Dawan Landry returned to start alongside Ed Reed, while free agent Domonique Foxworth was signed and started all 16 games that year. Cornerbacks Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, and Lardarius Webb (rookie) also played a significant amount of time.

In his time with the Ravens, Carrier showed that he could handle a large amount of turnover and also develop raw, unknown talents like Dawan Landry and Jim Leonhard. Carrier also had to deal with repeated major injuries, including the collapse of Chris McAllister, who had signed a mega deal with the Ravens before collapsing to injury in the next two years. As Josh mentioned in an article a few days ago, Carrier's secondary generated 93 interceptions from 2006 to 2009, second most in that time frame.

I will post part two of this article tomorrow, and in the meantime, feel free to head over to Gang Green Nation, where I posted a fanpost asking what Jets fans thought of Mark Carrier.