As Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell continues to go through the interview circuit for a head-coaching position, one door closed Thursday when the Washington Redskins hired Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as their head coach.
Caldwell interviewed Wednesday with the Tennessee Titans and came away encouraged by the meeting, according to Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten. Caldwell met with Titans general manager Ruston Webster, executive Lake Dawson and other team officials. He has previously interviewed with the Redskins and Detroit Lions.
The Titans interviewed Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer on Thursday.
"I talked to Jim and he felt very good about it," Wooten told The Baltimore Sun. "He spent about three hours with Ruston one-on-one and had a great meeting. It will all deepnd on what they want to do with the quarterback position and how they see it working out."
Wooten said that he doesn't anticipate Caldwell interviewing for either the Cleveland Browns or Minnesota Vikings' head coaching vacancies. Zimmer is also up for the Vikings' job.
"I think Cleveland wants more of a West Coast type of offense, and that's not Jim," Wooten said. "Rick Spielman, the Vikings' general manager, said when he finished sitting down with Zimmer he plans on bringing two or three more guys to Minneapolis for interviews in the next two or three days."
A year ago, Wooten was disappointed with the amount and seriousness of interviews for minority candidates and said he believed some interviews were only held to comply with the Rooney Rule advocating that teams interview at least one minority. His organization promotes diversity in opportunity and hiring in the NFL for coaching, scouting and front office positions."We were extremely upset last year when there were many interviews where guys didn't have a legitimate shot," Wooten said. "We don't want the teams to bring in someone that they have no intention of hiring. You want an honest approach. It's been completely different this year. The teams really get it and are open-minded and taking guys seriously."Wooten said he was also encouraged to see James Franklin land the Penn State job and Charlie Strong get hired by Texas."Listening to James the other day, the Penn State thing doesn't surprise me," Wooten said. "I just felt that he was going to go to Penn State. That's a great move for him. That's a great job. I'm very pleased and thrilled that Texas hired Strong and now Penn State has hired James."These are outstanding moments in the history of college football as it relates to men of color getting these opportunities. The only thing I would compare it to is when Tyrone Willingham went to Notre Dame. That was the landmark for me. It's the Golden Dome."
Caldwell won a Super Bowl as an assistant coach with the Indianapolis Colts and coached them to a 14-2 record and a Super Bowl appearance as head coach. He was fired following a 2-14 season where Peyton Manning was sidelined with a neck injury that required surgery.
Caldwell took over as Ravens offensive coordinator in December 2012 when Cam Cameron was fired. He oversaw an offense that clicked in the playoffs when Joe Flacco had 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions and was named Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player.However, the Ravens plummeted to 29th in the NFL last season as Flacco threw a franchise-record 22 interceptions and running back Ray Rice rushed for only 660 yards."Jim is a leader and a teacher who can instill discipline and can deliver his message," Wooten said. "He's an excellent communicator. He's familiar with the AFC South and he has a great background with quarterbacks. With the Titans, they need to identify what they're doing at quarterback."Wooten praised the Ravens for retaining Juan Castillo as offensive line coach. Castillo is no longer the run-game coordinator."Keeping Juan in place is a good thing," Wooten said. "I think that you will see a lot of change. This gets Juan back to where he excels. He's a good technical coach. I know he knows how to teach offensive line play."The Ravens need a new running backs coach after parting ways with Wilbert Montgomery.Wooten praised Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom, a former Mississippi State head coach who played at Alabama with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.Croom is still under contract to the Titans, but Caldwell was told during his interview that the new head coach isn't required to retain any assistant coaches."Sylvester is an excellent guy," Wooten said. "He would be an excellent running backs coach for the Ravens or anyone else."firstname.lastname@example.org