To talk with Jim Caldwell, you'd never know his team had just won a Super Bowl.
He's still the same methodical, low-key guy who once mentored Peyton Manning and now runs the Joe Flacco show…
Ryan Mink of Ravens.com got an up-close and personal look at Caldwell's interactions with the Ravens offense at OTA's last week.
"Jim Caldwell was thrown into the fire last year, taking over as Ravens offensive coordinator in Week 15 without ever having been an NFL play-caller. Caldwell quickly whipped the unit into shape, and the Ravens averaged 31 points in four playoff games en route to a Super Bowl XLVII victory."
"Now Caldwell has a full offseason to work with, a virtual eternity compared to last year. So what are his goals with so much time?"
“We’re just trying to get better in every phase,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell elaborated, pointing to running the ball better on first and second downs, and becoming more consistent in the short passing game. “We averaged a little over four yards a carry in the running game, and in certain situations – first and second down – we want to be a little bit better,” he said.
The Ravens averaged 4.2 yards per carry on first down last season, ranked 16th in the league. They averaged 4.6 on second down (10th).
“We also want to be more consistent in terms of our passing game,” Caldwell said. “We were able to have a lot of big plays down the field and we have that big-play capability, but we also need to be really precise in terms of our underneath passing game.”
I think it's significant to note that Caldwell was not entirely satisfied with his unit's performance even though the team is the current NFL Champion.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was among the best deep-ball throwers in the NFL last year. His 40 completions of 25 yards or more were tied for second with Peyton Manning, only trailing Drew Brees. But Flacco’s completion percentage sat below 60 percent (59.7), ranked 19th in the league.
If the Ravens can combine their offensive explosiveness with a methodical march, the offense should take another step.
Caldwell was credited with igniting Baltimore’s offense last year. He brought more of a hurry-up, no-huddle style to the group, took a number of deep shots and added some new wrinkles.
Caldwell said the Ravens are “changing a few things here and there” and adding even more wrinkles, but not a whole lot will be different. He got his first chance to dig in deep and evaluate his entire offense after the Super Bowl, and determine what adjustments needed to be made.
“[There] really aren’t that many, for the most part,” he said.
For him personally, the job isn’t much different. Caldwell, a 37-year coaching veteran, said all changes are his responsibilities. He’s the ringleader from the get-go now.
“There are certain things you’re responsible for, so you have to take care of those,” he said. “In terms of making certain what we’re supposed to get done, that’s my job. When they don’t get it done, guys lose their job, right? So we’ve got to get it done right.”
Caldwell doesn’t think his demeanor has changed, and his players don’t either.
“He just rolls back into it,” wide receiver Jacoby Jones said. “We’re on the same mission, the same road. He’s got the same coaching philosophy, so he makes it easy for us. Everything’s the same. It’s like the old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“I think he’s approached it the same,” wide receiver Torrey Smith added. “He wants to be the best at what he does. Obviously he’s been doing it a long time. He’s great at communicating and motivating us. We’re lucky to have him.”
People tend to forget but Caldwell was not suddenly brought in from the Colts when John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron. Caldwell was there all along for the 2012 ride, as a quarterbacks coach, but most importantly as a quality control advisior for Joe Flacco.
When it happened last year, as sudden as it was and as risky as it seemed, replacing Cameron with Caldwell turned out to be a logical and well-planned chess move.
And to Cam Cameron's credit, even he has described the move as "gutsy" and "inspired"— proving again what I've always said about Cameron being a class act.