Much has been made about the Ravens welcoming back former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano when he leads the Indianapolis Colts into M&T Bank Stadium for Sunday’s AFC wild-card playoff game.
It’s a similar scenario for for Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who will face the Colts for the first time since the organization fired him in January after he coached them to a 2-14 season.
Caldwell said Thursday that he still has fond memories and strong relationships with members of the franchise where he had spent the previous 10 years before being hired as the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach in February.
“You don't spend 10 years in a place and walk away from it and not have a [feeling] toward some of the guys you coached,” Caldwell said after practice Thursday. “Those guys laid it on the line for you when you were there. So obviously, you're going to look at things a little bit differently. You know a lot more people. Ten years in this profession is an eternity. Three years is a long time for a [head] coach. So yeah, it’s a bit different in that regard. But will it make any difference in how we go about the game, how we call the game, how we practice and prepare for the game? Absolutely not.”
Caldwell compared Sunday’s game to when he was the defensive backs coach at Northwestern in 1981 and had to prepare for a game against Iowa, where he was a four-year starter at defensive back.“At that point in time, all I was concentrating on was doing my job and trying to get a victory, and it’ll be no different in this game,” Caldwell said.
The Colts went a combined 24-8 in Caldwell’s first two seasons as head coach and lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010. But with four-time Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning out for the entire 2011 campaign season after undergoing neck surgery, the team lost its first 13 games.
Caldwell said he has never entertained the thought of what might have unfolded if Manning had been healthy.
“It doesn’t even cross my mind for one second. Not one second,” Caldwell said. “I think for the most part, I believe the good Lord has a plan for us, and often times it’s not as picturesque as we might like it, it may not unfold exactly the way we had planned, but it unfolded the way in which He wanted it, and I’m satisfied with that.”
Caldwell’s tenure still resonates with some of his former players.
“Coach Caldwell [had] been around since my rookie year,” Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis said. “When I first came into the door, he’s been there. This is the first year I haven’t been around him. There is that respect and love for him. That hasn’t gone anywhere and he was our head coach and led us to a Super Bowl. There’s a great amount of respect for Coach Caldwell.”
Despite his head coaching experience, Caldwell’s name has not been circulated through the rumor mill in connection with the number of openings in the NFL. Caldwell said he still desires to be a head coach, but he’s not wasting time mulling over anything other than Sunday’s game against Indianapolis.
“I typically don’t think too much beyond this next ballgame,” he said. “Tomorrow is not even promised to me. I think that’s biblical, right? I really don’t think that far. I’m not looking off, gazing into the sunrise or anything of that nature. I’m trying to make certain that I’m doing my job and getting our guys ready to go out and play. We’ve got a real chore ahead of us.”