For 10 years as the quarterbacks coach and then head coach, Jim Caldwell had the luxury of watching the Indianapolis Colts wreak havoc on opposing offenses by sending Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to harass quarterbacks.
On Sunday in an AFC Wildcard playoff game, Caldwell, the Ravens offensive coordinator, will have to hope that his blockers can keep Freeney and Mathis at bay long enough for quarterback Joe Flacco to find open receivers. It's a task that may cost Caldwell a few minutes of sleep at night.
"You look at those guys, for a number of years, they were just a terror – the two of them, those two bookends," Caldwell said Thursday. "They would give you so many problems because the minute you got into a situation [where] you had to pass a little bit more often than you would like, they would heat it up on you. Dwight is still as powerful and strong. He has developed even more of a power move along with that great spin game that he has, and he can still get up the field and run by you. Mathis, as usual, he does it all. He's just a talented guy."
Mathis leads Indianapolis in sacks this season with eight, marking his fifth straight campaign with at least eight sacks. Freeney, however, has recorded just five sacks, his lowest total in a season in which he has made at least 14 starts.
As good as Freeney and Mathis are, Caldwell is hoping that prior contests against talented pass-rushing duos will help the Ravens this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
"Fortunately, we've had an opportunity to play against some guys here down the stretch," he said. "[Against] Denver, they had [Elvis] Dumervil obviously and Von Miller. We had an opportunity to go against the Giants who had some great rushers as well. These two guys are a little bit different in their style, but very, very, very talented."