quarterback to work with for coaches. “He was only with us one year, and I thought 2010 was a good year and we were getting better.”
Cameron doubled up his role as the quarterbacks coach in 2011, and the offense continued to evolve. When the Colts fired Jim Caldwell and the Ravens lost defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to Indianapolis, Harbaugh hired the deposed head coach to work with Flacco for the 2012 season right after the AFC Championship Game loss in New England.
Flacco and Caldwell have similar, Type-B personalities. They’re even-tempered, almost quiet and reserved.
While Cameron was the only offensive coordinator that Flacco ever knew in the NFL, Harbaugh felt like there was a connection between the quarterback and Caldwell that was evolving and should be given the chance to grow. Caldwell had been a longtime mentor and quarterbacks coach to Peyton Manning before becoming the head coach of the Colts. However, he was never the offensive coordinator and never called plays in Indy.
Harbaugh informed Flacco of the change early on the Monday morning after the Redskins game. “Honestly, I was shocked,” Flacco said. “One thing I didn’t like is when some people said it was expected. People were acting like we weren’t playing well. That wasn’t the case. We had lost two weird games. Batch came down and we lost to Pittsburgh in the last couple of minutes. In D.C., RG3 got hurt and Cousins went down there and made a few plays and beat us. Stuff was happening where you’re saying, ‘How the hell did that happen?’ ”
“Some of the stuff that went right for us against San Diego or Dallas didn’t go right against Pittsburgh and Washington. But we were 13 weeks into the season and we had just put up 28 points. We were playing decent offensive football. Then I talked to John more and looked back at the conversations and maybe it wasn’t quite as shocking.”
Flacco acknowledged that things weren’t perfect between him and Cameron, but much like the firing of Zorn two years earlier, he didn’t get a vote in the decision. At least with Cameron gone, there was no more dancing around communication issues. Flacco felt like he could have honest conversations with Caldwell who wanted his input.
“You can’t hurt Jim’s feelings,” Flacco said. “Questions don’t turn into confrontations. And he wants feedback on what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Flacco grew up in a house full of male athletes in Philadelphia. He fought with his brothers and his father. And then two minutes later, everything was cool. He never had that feeling with Cameron. “It was hard to argue with Cam because the next day you’re never really sure it would be OK,” Flacco said. “You never wanted it to be awkward and sometimes you were afraid that it came across like that.”
Flacco has all of that tough Philly kid in him. He prefers a relationship where you don’t get your feelings hurt, where open communication is never judged. When he openly questioned his father in his household that wasn’t viewed as disrespectful. It was allowed, almost encouraged in that the more questions you asked the more you learned and understood. That you sought to understand was commended.
And oft times, there’s the back and forth.
“To me, that’s a good gauge of whether you really get along with that person,” Flacco said. “My receivers need to know when I’m bitching at them, I’m not bitching. I’m working to get better, to get them where they