By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun
9:23 PM EST, December 10, 2012
Jim Caldwell built his NFL reputation through a successful collaboration with Peyton Manning, reaching a Super Bowl as the Indianapolis Colts' head coach and winning another as the position coach for the star quarterback.
Since joining the Ravens as quarterbacks coach in February, Caldwell has worked quietly behind the scenes to help install a no-huddle offense that was used prominently at the start of the season only to be scrapped in recent weeks.
Now that Cam Cameron has been fired as offensive coordinator and Caldwell has replaced him, the veteran NFL assistant will put his stamp on the Ravens' offense.
And the look of that offense is expected to take on a hurry-up approach given Caldwell's background with the Colts' offense and his role working with quarterback Joe Flacco since his arrival in Baltimore.
"You saw they focused on the no-huddle a lot in the offseason, started out using it effectively and then waned a bit as the season progressed," NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell said. "I think it's something they would like to go back to with Jim. I think he's highly thought of. He's very good with the subtle details of quarterback play.
"I think the big issue is how much can you change this late in the season. I would expect to see an emphasis on a different part of the playbook with them making this change at this stage."
Known for his low-key demeanor, Caldwell, 57, didn't signal his arrival with bold statements or promises about energizing an offense that's averaging 344.4 yards to rank 18th in total offense and ninth in scoring with a 25.5 points a game.
Both Caldwell and Ravens coach John Harbaugh emphasized there won't be a major change in approach.
"It's not a system change," Caldwell said Monday at the Ravens' complex. "Obviously, the Ravens' offense is the Ravens' offense. It's not a philosophical change. John sets the philosophy here of this team, and we follow suit."
Although Caldwell has a lengthy resume with 35 years of coaching, including three years as the Colts' head coach and operating as Manning's quarterbacks coach for three of his four NFL Most Valuable Player awards, he has never been an offensive coordinator.
And the former Wake Forest head coach hasn't called plays in the NFL. During Caldwell's six years as Manning's position coach, Manning piled up an NFL-best 29,210 yards, 222 touchdowns, 66.5 completion percentage and a 100.5 quarterback rating.
"Jim is qualified," Harbaugh said. "Jim is a heck of a coach, and we have a heck of a staff. It's going to be the Ravens' offense. We're down the road with our offense, and we'll continue to build on what we've been doing.
"Jim has been a part of that the whole season along with the rest of the coaches. It's always a collaboration, and we'll do it together. We're looking forward to seeing how it plays out."
Flacco recently told The Baltimore Sun he didn't know why the Ravens had stopped using the no-huddle attack.
Running an up-tempo offense is something that Flacco has acknowledged he enjoys and feels like it plays to his strengths as a pocket passer.
"It seemed to work when they did run it this season, and I know Joe is a big proponent of the no-huddle because it keeps defenses on their heels and they can't switch and substitute," former Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason said in a telephone interview. "Joe runs the two-minute offense really well. From what I've heard about Caldwell, he's a good guy.
"Hopefully, he's been in Baltimore long enough to know the pulse of this offense and build that rapport and relationship with Joe and can step into a leadership role where guys will believe in what he's saying. If he doesn't have that relationship, he's going to run into the same problems that Cam did."
This promotion marks a big change for Caldwell in terms of his role on the staff.
However, he's already left an impression on the offensive players.
"Everybody has respect for him," Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "He gets along with everybody. He's been kind of quiet because he was the quarterbacks coach. I'm sure we'll see more of his personality now that he's the offensive coordinator."
In his fifth season as a starter, Flacco has been occasionally erratic and inconsistent.
Flacco has passed for 3,220 yards on 60 percent accuracy, generating 18 touchdown passes and nine interceptions for an 87.1 quarterback rating.
With Cameron gone, obviously the focus will turn toward Flacco and how he fares with a new offensive coordinator in Caldwell.
"What I've been seeing from him is consistently getting better," Mason said of his former quarterback. "At times, he's been missing, which you can't have from your quarterback. I've also seen him play tremendously this year. Especially with them changing offensive coordinators, everybody will say, 'What we thought was the problem is gone, the so-called anchor holding us down.' If we continue to flutter, is it then on Caldwell or on Joe as a quarterback?
"Joe needs to be cognizant that the pressure is on him now. No one else can say on that team or in the media or the fans that it was Cam's fault going forward. If the problems continue, then it's bigger than the offensive coordinator. I think Joe will continue to do a good job. If he doesn't, it will be shocking to me. If he doesn't take the opportunity to take a stranglehold of this team from a leadership standpoint, I'll be very surprised."
After accepting the new responsibilities, Caldwell met with the offensive coaches, watching video of the Ravens' 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins that marked Cameron's final game as offensive coordinator. He also met with players.
"I had an opportunity to talk with them and really, in a nutshell, just try to make them understand really what we're trying to do is just to get about that much better," said Caldwell while holding his index finger and thumb a few inches apart. "And that's a difficult task obviously trying to get that done in this league, but that's what we're shooting for."
Harbaugh didn't say whether Caldwell will be the Ravens' permanent offensive coordinator, but did indicate that he would work in a dual capacity by remaining the quarterbacks coach. It's also unclear if Caldwell will shift to the field as offensive coordinator or remain in the coaches' booth as he did as quarterbacks coach.
When asked if this represented an audition for Caldwell, Harbaugh replied: "Long-term considerations are long-term considerations, and that's not in the forefront of our mind right now."
Jim Caldwell File
Hometown: Beloit, Wis.
Resume: Former Indianapolis Colts head coach and quarterbacks coach where he coached quarterback Peyton Manning, now with the Denver Broncos.
*Hasn't been an offensive coordinator in NFL, coaching quarterbacks with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to joining the Colts in 2002.
*Was Manning's position coach in 2004 when he threw 49 touchdowns and was named NFL Most Valuable Player.
*Caldwell was the head coach at Wake Forest from 1993 to 2000 and was previously the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator at Penn State when Kerry Collins was the Nittany Lions' quarterback.
*Other coaching stints include time at Louisville, Colorado, Northwestern, Southern Illinois and Iowa.
*Was a four-year starting defensive back for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Personal: Married to Cheryl and has three sons, Jimmy, Jermaine and Jared and one daughter, Natalie.
-- Aaron Wilson
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