A week after running a few bunch formations and stretch plays in a disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos, the Ravens used an efficient no-huddle and a strategy of attacking the middle of the field to whip the New York Giants, 33-14, on Sunday.
Those tweaks would appear to be the most visible imprints offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has left on the unit since succeeding Cam Cameron on Dec. 10. But Caldwell dismissed the notion that the offense can now be labeled as his during his weekly news conference Thursday.
“This is the Ravens offense, not Jim Caldwell’s offense,” he said. “This is a team and a unit effort. I think oftentimes, people get caught up in that, and that’s certainly not my intent. My intent is to make certain that I’m part of a very, very high functioning group that loves to play, that’s physical and makes very, very few mistakes and puts points on the board. That’s really what our goal is.”
Bunch formations and stretch plays were components of the playbook managed by the Indianapolis Colts, who were led by Caldwell between 2008 and 2011. But the offense has been using the no-huddle all season, and Caldwell said attacking the middle of the field was based on what he saw from the Giants defense.
With just a little more than two weeks under his belt, Caldwell said there hasn’t been enough time to overhaul the playbook as crafted by Cameron.
“We’ve just made a couple of adjustments here and there,” Caldwell said. “It’s too far down the road for us to make any significant changes. There may be a thing or two here that we have in our system that we’ve utilized maybe a hair more, but not much. We haven’t changed that much. I think you all know how difficult it is to execute in this high functioning league with great performers, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. If you go in and start doing something that you haven’t been working on for quite some time and there’s a little bit of hesitation in what you do, you’ve got a problem. So we try and stick with the things that we know, the things that we can execute and execute well.”
After completing just 50 percent of his passes and having an interception returned 98 yards for a touchdown against the Broncos, quarterback Joe Flacco recorded his fifth 300-yard game and his second two-touchdown, zero-interception effort against the Giants.
But Flacco said he didn’t get a sense that the level of comfort with Caldwell had contributed to the offense’s success.
“I think it’s been pretty good, and I think it’s always going to be a work in progress, and get better and better and better,” Flacco said. “I couldn’t tell you I noticed too much difference from Week 1 to Week 2. That was one of the things that we tried to do very well Week 1, and I think we probably grew a little bit in Week 2, but it was pretty similar for myself.”
Caldwell said the fleeting nature of the NFL means that the accolades will stop if the offense performs poorly. That’s why he emphasized that he’s not content with Sunday’s showing.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “It’s a difficult task in this league, but you’ve just got to keep getting better. We’re a long way from where we’d like to be, but our guys are incrementally moving along in the right direction. Too many penalties. There’s a lot of things we could look at. We didn’t block perfectly on every single play, we didn’t run every route perfectly, and that’s what we’re chasing. We’re chasing perfection. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.”