Tag Archive | "jim caldwell"

Not dynamic choice, but Hostler could be happy medium for Ravens

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Not dynamic choice, but Hostler could be happy medium for Ravens

Posted on 22 January 2014 by Luke Jones

Jim Hostler wouldn’t be the dynamic choice as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator, but it shouldn’t be surprising if John Harbaugh selects his wide receivers coach for the job.

The Baltimore head coach hasn’t hired an outsider for a coordinator position since Cam Cameron was chosen to run the offense in 2008. Often criticized for preferring familiarity with his hires — a common practice found across the NFL — Harbaugh has promoted from within whenever possible.

Even if Hostler wouldn’t be your first choice as the new offensive coordinator, that doesn’t mean he’s the wrong one, either. The truth is there isn’t just one right man for the job as any number of candidates could be a good fit or the wrong decision depending on a number of variables yet to be determined. You can find faults with any candidate out there, and there’s no telling how any outsider will fit within the framework of Harbaugh’s staff and connect with quarterback Joe Flacco and the other players already on the roster.

After the Ravens finished the 2013 season ranked 29th in total offense and set franchise-worst marks in the running game, there’s a natural tendency to want to blow everything up and start fresh. The desire for a new mind and voice is a legitimate one, whether the Ravens agree with the sentiment or once again lean toward continuity.

But as was the case when observers debated whether Jim Caldwell should be retained as offensive coordinator prior to his departure to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions, it’s important to remember where the Ravens were a year ago at this time as they prepared for a trip to New Orleans and Super Bowl XLVII. For all the criticism of Caldwell and the lack of enthusiasm for Hostler’s candidacy based on the results of 2013, the pair’s work in the 2012 postseason shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored.

Caldwell has credited Hostler on countless occasions for his help in preparing game plans after the former took over for Cameron late in the 2012 season, and the wide receivers coach relayed Caldwell’s calls from the upstairs booth to Joe Flacco’s helmet on game days. Of all the problems that plagued the Ravens offense this past season, Caldwell and Hostler didn’t suddenly become fools in the offseason after directing one of the best stretches of offensive football in franchise history last January and February.

Harbaugh has already stated that he and his coaching staff are as accountable as anyone for the offensive struggles that led to an 8-8 season, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has already pledged personnel changes. With the decision to retain run-game coordinator Juan Castillo under the official title of offensive line coach in 2014, the Ravens told you everything you need to know in regards to their view of the main problem that plagued the offense this past season.

Even with the shortcomings of the coaching staff, the personnel was the Ravens’ biggest issue in 2013 as the offensive line underperformed and was undersized, the passing game floundered without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, and the running game was abysmal with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce having career-worst seasons. Not even the ghost of Vince Lombardi could have overcome the issues up front and overall lack of playmakers to make the Ravens a productive offense.

With the proper personnel upgrades and the addition of a quarterbacks coach to work with Flacco — something Harbaugh now appears committed to — Hostler might be an appropriate compromise for a revamped offense in 2014. Newsome has vowed to add bulk to the interior offensive line as well as an impact wide receiver, changes that could help Hostler recapture what the offense was able to do late in the 2012 season.

Yes, his track record in his lone year as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers in 2007 reeks of failure — ranking 32nd in the league in yards and points scored — but Hostler was also forced to lean on the quarterbacking quartet of Trent Dilfer, Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, and Chris Weinke. And despite criticism from 49ers running back Frank Gore about his play-calling, Hostler’s leading receivers were Arnaz Battle and an inexperienced Vernon Davis, not exactly weapons that are going to make opposing defenses shift focus away from the running game.

The San Francisco offense wasn’t very good before (26th in 2006) or after (23rd in 2008) Hostler served as coordinator, and that was more than six years ago as most of us wouldn’t want to be judged permanently over what we did years ago in our respective professions. Hostler has been praised by the likes of Boldin, Derrick Mason, Torrey Smith, and Marlon Brown for the work he’s done with the wide receivers over the last six years.

Detractors will fairly ask why Harbaugh initially passed on Hostler in favor of Caldwell — a man without any experience as an offensive coordinator at the time — if the receivers coach is such a good choice for the job now, but it’s safe to say Chuck Pagano turned out to be a great fit for the defensive coordinator job in 2011 despite Greg Mattison being chosen as the successor to Rex Ryan two years earlier.

The truth is we really don’t know how well Hostler — or anyone else — would fit as the Ravens offensive coordinator in 2014 and beyond until we see what improvements are made on the personnel front. The 47-year-old has seen the entire offensive road map of the Harbaugh era, witnessing what worked and what didn’t under Cameron and Caldwell and presumably learning from their mistakes in the way anyone observes his superiors and makes mental notes of what he might do differently if given the chance.

Hostler hasn’t had his chance to run the show and leave his imprint on the Baltimore offense.

And with an offseason likely to bring a number of other changes on the offensive side of the ball, some continuity within the coaching ranks might not be a bad thing.

Even if Hostler isn’t the exciting choice by any means.

Comments (4)

Ravens secondary coach Austin hired as Lions defensive coordinator

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ravens secondary coach Austin hired as Lions defensive coordinator

Posted on 16 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In a move not unexpected following the hiring of Jim Caldwell as their new head coach, the Detroit Lions have come to an agreement with Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin to become their new defensive coordinator.

The team officially announced the hiring on Friday.

Austin’s departure is a blow to the defensive coaching staff after he did an impressive job with the development of several young defensive backs including Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and former Raven Cary Williams. The 48-year-old Austin took over as the Baltimore secondary coach in 2011 when Chuck Pagano was promoted to defensive coordinator.

His roots with Caldwell extend beyond their two years with the Ravens as the pair coached together at Penn State and Wake Forest in the early 1990s.

Head coach John Harbaugh could have an in-house candidate to take Austin’s place in senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo, who spent three years as the defensive backs coach in Philadelphia from 2001 through 2003. Formerly the head coach of the St. Louis Rams who also spent time as a defensive coordinator for both the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints, Spagnuolo would have to decide whether the secondary coach role would be the right fit for his career path.

The last two secondary coaches under Harbaugh eventually became defensive coordinators with Pagano even advancing a step further to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Such a track record under Harbaugh might entice Spagnuolo to take the position if offered, even if he desires to once again be a coordinator and head coach in the future.

Harbaugh credited the 54-year-old Spagnuolo as a helpful sounding board on game days as well as an asset to defensive coordinator Dean Pees during the 2013 season.

“I think Dean would tell you something along the lines that he was a big help to Dean as far as — not so much building the package — but studying the opponents and creating a few ideas and some insights that were a little bit different than what we’ve had here in the past and contributed in that way,” Harbaugh said. “I think Dean really came to appreciate Steve’s role in the defensive room there a little bit. The thing about Steve is he’s never really threatening to anybody. He respects all the other coaches. He just tried to help out where he could.”

In addition to continuing the search for their next offensive coordinator, the Ravens must now fill their secondary coach, running backs coach, and — if they choose — quarterbacks coach positions.

Comments (0)

Five questions about the Ravens’ offensive coordinator search

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Five questions about the Ravens’ offensive coordinator search

Posted on 15 January 2014 by Luke Jones

As the search for a new offensive coordinator to replace Jim Caldwell continues, head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday that the Ravens will look inside and outside the organization to find the best candidate.

Several names have already been offered by numerous outlets for consumption, but the Ravens’ history with the hiring of Harbaugh as their head coach in 2008 supports the possibility of the next offensive coordinator being an off-the-radar candidate no one is currently discussing.

Wide receivers coach Jim Hostler will interview for the position — he was San Francisco’s offensive coordinator in 2007 — but it remains unclear if any other in-house candidates such as offensive line coach Juan Castillo will interview. Of course, most think the Ravens are more likely to bring in an outside option for the job, but their exact specifications for Caldwell’s replacement remain unclear.

“We’re confident that whether we select someone currently on our staff or from another team, we will have a coach that best fits what we want to be, where we want to go and understands what Ravens football is all about,” Harbaugh said in a released team statement. “I have a profile in mind, and we are excited about the coaches who have shown interest in the job.

“One of the positives with the change is that we’re reminded that this franchise — and team — is attractive to many in the profession. We will have a coaching staff that will get the most out of our players.”

With Harbaugh and the Ravens not exactly willing to share a clear list of candidates at the onset of the search, several important questions must be answered as they look for the best man for the job:

1. Are the Ravens looking for a coordinator to tweak their current system or to offer something new entirely?

The offensive system received some new wrinkles with the increased use of the three-wide, single-back formation and the introduction of the pistol formation in 2013, but it’s clear the Ravens will be looking for at least some changes to revamp the league’s 29th-ranked offensive attack. How much change will be the question as a different offensive system comes with new verbiage and a learning curve for newcomers and veterans alike.

Ultimately, Harbaugh will want some say in his team’s overall offensive philosophy, so it remains to be seen whether the Ravens will prefer some minor modifications — along with their anticipated personnel changes — or a complete revamping. The knee-jerk reaction will be to blow it up and start fresh after an 8-8 season full of offensive ineptitude, but there are drawbacks to that and Caldwell showed late in the 2012 season that the offensive system is capable of being successful with the right personnel.

2. How much will they value experience against the appeal of an up-and-coming younger coach?

There’s no such thing as the perfect candidate as critics will view established names as underwhelming retreads while scoffing at guys they’ve never head of, but it will be interesting to see if the Ravens prefer more play-calling experience after previously promoting Caldwell, a man who had never served as an offensive coordinator. Hiring an experienced coordinator is the safer play, but it can also take away mystery in opponents’ minds as tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses are no secret in the NFL establishment, possibly limiting the coordinator’s ceiling for success in the process.

An up-and-coming coach might bring enthusiasm, new ideas, and exciting potential, but you never quite know how he’ll respond if he hasn’t been a play-caller at the NFL level. Being a major asset in meeting rooms and on the practice field as a positional coach is valuable, but that doesn’t always translate to success as an offensive coordinator in the same way that not all great coordinators are capable of making the successful leap to a head coaching job.

3. Is the thought of continuity a bigger priority as the Ravens are about to have their third offensive coordinator in the last 13 months?

The Ravens are clearly looking for the best candidate to breathe life into their struggling offense, but it’s fair to wonder if they’ll value a candidate who’s more likely to remain on the staff for the long haul than one who could easily bolt for a head coaching job in the next year or two even though that’s often difficult to predict. If Harbaugh doesn’t go with an internal candidate, this would mark the first time the Ravens won’t hire from within for a coordinator job — offensive or defensive — since Cam Cameron joined the new staff in 2008 as Greg Mattison, Chuck Pagano, Dean Pees, and Caldwell were already in the organization.

Baltimore had interest in interviewing the 36-year-old Ben McAdoo before he was hired as the Giants offensive coordinator on Tuesday, which could be an indication that they’re not worried about choosing a coordinator who could bolt for a head coaching gig sooner rather than later. As Harbaugh mentioned in Wednesday’s statement, having assistant coaches leave for better jobs reflects favorably on the organization, but a lack of continuity on the staff can stunt the growth of your football team when you can’t find the ideal replacements.

4. Will the Harbaugh connection be a relevant factor — for or against — any potential candidate?

One of the silliest criticisms that fans have for Harbaugh is his preference to hire coaches with which he shares connections when you realize coaches everywhere have the same tendency. Just like any other career field, networking is a major factor in the hiring process and it’s human nature to gravitate toward familiarity, whether it’s right or not.

Because of that, it would be unwise to immediately dismiss candidates who share ties with Harbaugh such as former Vikings head coach Brad Childress. However, it’s possible that owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, or even Harbaugh himself have decided that a coordinator who doesn’t have a history with the head coach would be the best fit at this particular time.

5. How much will quarterback Joe Flacco be involved in the interviewing and hiring process?

This is easily the most interesting question as it appears to be a no-brainer to have the seventh-year quarterback’s input as the Ravens consider the various candidates. Flacco certainly isn’t going anywhere, so why wouldn’t you want a candidate that he has endorsed and feels comfortable with?

Ultimately, the new offensive coordinator needs to be Harbaugh’s decision, but it would be counterproductive not to have your veteran quarterback involved in the interviews in some way to offer his input on whether he thinks he can work well with a given candidate. Whether it’s to offer feedback after observing interviews or to be directly involved in the questioning, Flacco should have a significant voice in helping to idenitfy the man who will not only lead the offense but also strive to make the franchise quarterback better after a disappointing 2013 season.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Harbaugh says Ravens “have a profile in mind” for next Offensive Coordinator

Posted on 15 January 2014 by WNST Staff

COACH HARBAUGH ON NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR; QUOTES ON JIM CALDWELL

John Harbaugh on hiring a new offensive coordinator: “We will be interviewing coaches inside and outside of the building. We’re confident that whether we select someone currently on our staff or from another team, we will have a coach that best fits what we want to be, where we want to go and understands what Ravens football is all about. I have a profile in mind, and we are excited about the coaches who have shown interest in the job. One of the positives with the change is that we’re reminded that this franchise – and team – is attractive to many in the profession. We will have a coaching staff that will get the most out of our players.”

John Harbaugh on Jim Caldwell: “We are all so happy for Jim. He deserves this opportunity, and I congratulate the Lions for selecting him. We’re disappointed that we’ve lost Jim. We were looking forward to making progress on offense with Jim leading the charge as coordinator. Jim is a teacher, he is honorable, he is a respected leader, and every person with the Ravens will miss him. Players and assistants respond to him. You understand why he was named Detroit’s head coach and why all the other teams had him among the finalists.”

Ozzie Newsome on Jim Caldwell: ”I believe it would be difficult to find anyone with the Ravens who is more respected than Jim Caldwell. That includes players, coaches and other staff members. He earned that because of the person he is and his extensive knowledge about football, including the keys to winning and his ability to teach all of that. Personally, it is a privilege to know him, and it was an honor to work with him. We put Jim in a difficult position a year ago when we named him offensive coordinator late in the season. All he did was help us turn our offense around, and we won the Super Bowl. He has many strengths, but one that is sometimes overlooked is his ability to bring a coaching staff together. He has already succeeded as a head coach, and he will again in Detroit.”

Joe Flacco on Jim Caldwell: “I enjoyed my time with Jim greatly. He is a man that I will always respect as a football coach, leader and a friend. Through his calming influence and extensive knowledge of the game, he was an integral part of our success over the past few years. He will be missed by me and the Ravens. I wish him the best of luck in Detroit.”

Comments (0)

Doesn’t matter who the Ravens new OC is…you’re not going to like him

Tags: , , ,

Doesn’t matter who the Ravens new OC is…you’re not going to like him

Posted on 15 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

This will be short and sweet.

As the Ravens begin their search for an offensive coordinator, this much, I know to be true.

No matter who they hire, nearly all of you will eventually want that guy fired.  And it won’t take long.  That’s how Baltimore has rolled all the way back to the days of Matt Cavanaugh.  The honest truth — Ravens fans haven’t ever really liked an offensive coordinator.

I could go into all the reasons why this is so, pointing to things like Fantasy Football, Madden and other associated football video games and the constant breaking down of film on TV sports shows on the NFL Network, ESPN, etc.

That said, even taking into account all of those things I listed above, it won’t matter here in Baltimore.  You guys (and gals) won’t like the “new one” twelve months from now.

“But Drew, what if the team wins and the offense is good next season?”

It won’t matter.

The team went to the playoffs for five straight seasons, went to three AFC title games and won a Super Bowl and, somehow, the Head Coach of the team sucks according to a lot of you.

When the Ravens win, it’s in spite of Harbaugh — that’s what some of you think.

When the Ravens lose, it’s because Harbaugh finally got exposed — you also think that.

Well, the same thing will most certainly happen with the new Offensive Coordinator.  You won’t like him, either.

How do I know that?

Because you’ve proved that over the last decade or so.

It’s never good enough.

If the Ravens score 35 points, but lose, you’ll still cry about the 3rd and 2 they didn’t get on the 11 yard line when they threw a swing pass to Ray Rice that he short-armed.

If they score 35 points, and win, you’ll forget that the following week when they score 20 and lose.

A lot of you have displayed an amazingly short memory when it comes to the football team in town and how exceptional they’ve really been in the John Harbaugh era.

If only you held the Orioles to the same standard.

 

 

Comments (17)

Examining possible offensive coordinator candidates for Ravens

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Examining possible offensive coordinator candidates for Ravens

Posted on 14 January 2014 by Luke Jones

With Tuesday’s news of offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell accepting the head coaching position with the Detroit Lions, the Ravens must now seek a new leader for an offense already expected to undergo significant change this offseason.

Unlike the last time the Ravens were in this position following the dismissal of Cam Cameron on Dec. 10, 2012, there doesn’t appear to be an obvious in-house replacement in mind in the same way that they promoted Caldwell from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Wide receivers coach Jim Hostler served as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, but the organization is expected to at least seriously explore outside options in an effort to breathe new life into an offense that finished 29th in total yards and 25th in points scored in 2013.

In addition to finding a new running backs coach following the news earlier this month that Wilbert Montgomery would not be returning, head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens will likely need to find a new secondary coach as Teryl Austin is expected to join Caldwell in Detroit as his new defensive coordinator.

Here is a preliminary list of some candidates as the Ravens begin their search for a third offensive coordinator in the last 13 months:

Jim Hostler, Ravens wide receivers coach
Skinny: The only internal candidate with experience as an offensive coordinator, Hostler is well-respected within the organization, but he doesn’t appear to have a great chance to be promoted since the Ravens passed on him in favor of Caldwell, who had never been an offensive coordinator prior to taking over the duties late in the 2012 season. His lone year as a coordinator in San Francisco was regarded as disastrous with the 49ers finishing last in the NFL in total yards and points scored before he was fired.

Rob Chudzinkski, former Browns head coach
Skinny: Regardless of what really happened in the 45-year-old’s lone season as the Cleveland head coach, Chudzinski’s work as the offensive coordinator in Carolina and in Cleveland before that was highly respected, making it likely that he won’t remain unemployed for long. As for any reservations in hiring someone who was so recently dismissed as a head coach, both Cameron and Caldwell were hired only weeks after being fired from a previous head coaching gig.

Brad Childress, Chiefs spread game analyst
Skinny: The former Vikings head coach has ties with Harbaugh dating back to their days together in Philadelphia, which makes him someone worth keeping an eye on in the search. Childress hasn’t found much success in recent years as a head coach or as an offensive coordinator — he was fired after one season in Cleveland in 2012 –but a 40-year-old Brett Favre had one of the best seasons of his career working with Childress in 2009, cementing the coach’s strong reputation with quarterbacks.

Norv Turner, Browns offensive coordinator
Skinny: Respected as one of the great offensive minds of this generation, the 61-year-old Turner remains under contract with Cleveland but would be an excellent candidate if made available once the Browns hire a new coach. His track record as an NFL head coach is underwhelming, but he’s worked with great quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers in the past and would be viewed as a major asset for Joe Flacco in trying to revitalize the offense.

Gary Kubiak, former Texans head coach
Skinny: The 52-year-old spent eight years in Houston before being fired in December, making one wonder if he might choose to take a year off from coaching even though he interviewed for Detroit’s head coaching vacancy earlier this month. He had a sterling reputation working as Mike Shanahan’s right-hand man and offensive coordinator in Denver for a decade and is still viewed as a talented offensive mind if he’s interested in being a coordinator again.

 

Comments (3)

Caldwell officially hired as Lions head coach

Tags: , , , , , ,

Caldwell officially hired as Lions head coach

Posted on 13 January 2014 by Luke Jones

Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell accepted the Detroit Lions’ head coaching position Tuesday, officially filling the vacancy left after the Lions fired Jim Schwartz (Mount St. Joe) at the conclusion of the 2013 regular season.

After San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt agreed to become the head coach of the Tennessee Titans earlier in the day, the Lions reportedly turned their attention to Caldwell, who interviewed for their vacancy earlier this month. He also interviewed for head coach openings with Washington and Tennessee, positions that have since been filled.

The former Indianapolis Colts head coach received much praise for the job he did with the Baltimore offense in helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII after being promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator on Dec. 10, 2012. However, his offense struggled mightily in 2013 as the Ravens finished 29th in total yards and 25th in points scored while also setting franchise lows in rushing yards and yards per carry.

Some had called for a change at offensive coordinator after the Ravens’ immense struggles on that side of the ball, but Caldwell’s track record in Indianapolis as well as his work late in the 2012 season make him a viable candidate for another head coaching opportunity. The Ravens were mum on Caldwell’s status for the 2014 season to avoid compromising his chances to obtain a head coach position.

It remains to be seen who among the Ravens’ assistant coaches might be joining Caldwell in Detroit, but secondary coach Teryl Austin is expected to become the Lions’ new defensive coordinator. Other names rumored to potentially join Caldwell on the Lions staff are former running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery and offensive line coach Andy Moeller, whose future remains in limbo after last week’s announcement that run-game coordinator Juan Castillo would remain with the Ravens under Moeller’s title of offensive line coach.

The most logical in-house candidate to replace Caldwell as offensive coordinator would be wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, who served as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator in 2007. However, the Ravens are likely to seriously explore options outside the organization to jump-start an offense expected to receive a significant facelift this offseason.

Preliminary names that could be considered for the position include former Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski, Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner, and former Vikings head coach Brad Childress.

 

Comments (3)

I called it last week — and Harbaugh confirmed it yesterday

Tags: , , , , , ,

I called it last week — and Harbaugh confirmed it yesterday

Posted on 09 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

A nice gesture by John Harbaugh in January of 2013 turned into a whopper of a train wreck for the Head Coach.

He took steps in an effort to fix it yesterday at the annual “State of the Ravens” press conference at the team’s facility in Owings Mills.

What did Harbaugh do?

He gave Juan Castillo the title he should have given him last January when the Ravens hired him to oversee their offensive line.

Last week as Luke and I reviewed the 2013 Ravens season, one of the topics centered on coaches and who we thought might return and who was on the bubble.

This was before Wilbert Montgomery was “moved on” for, essentially, insubordination.

As Luke and I went over the names, we eventually came to Castillo.  I contended then that Harbaugh’s biggest mistake was giving Juan Castillo the title of “Run Game Coordinator”.  I can see why Harbaugh did it that way, but hindsight tells us the title was a mistake.

To give Castillo a “new” title (the Ravens didn’t have a “Run Game Coordinator” before Castillo showed up) implied he was coming in to do something so specifically different that no one else on staff could manage it.  The only problem, of course, is the Ravens already had someone overseeing their run game.  His name was Wilbert Montgomery.  And, since a major component of running the ball is blocking for the ball carrier, they also had one of “those guys” in charge of coaching the offensive line — Andy Moeller.

Honestly, as I said last week, Harbaugh’s mistake wasn’t in hiring Castillo.  He’s a bright guy with a terrific resume.  John’s mistake was in giving Castillo the title of “Run Game Coordinator”.  When the running game fizzled in 2013, everyone simply pointed to the new guy who came in to coordinate the running game and said, “There’s the problem!”

Look, I understand John Harbaugh and Steve Bisciotti and everyone else at Owings Mills couldn’t care less about what the “armchair quarterbacks” (aka, the fans) think about their style, scheme and methods of coaching.  Frankly, the fans don’t know anything about football, truth be told.  They know when a player does something well and they know when Matt Elam gets beat by A.J. Green that Elam was to blame, but the fans don’t know anything, really, about the true inner workings of all eleven players on either side of the ball and how Player A’s mistake and Player B’s inability to cover up for it leaves Player C exposed.

That said, Harbaugh and Bisciotti do owe it to the fans to review the performance of their coaches and players and determine who deserves to carry on with the team and who doesn’t.

What “the fans” think about Juan Castillo shouldn’t have anything to do with whether the Ravens keep him or not, but it’s clear from yesterday’s press conference that Harbaugh IS aware of the scrutiny and criticism his “Run Game Coordinator” endured during the recently completed 8-8 season.

That’s why Castillo is now the team’s “Offensive Line Coach”.  It’s basically what he was all along, even with Moeller in the fold, but the Head Coach didn’t want to create a potential firestorm by stripping Moeller of his title.

And, for anyone who thinks Castillo was the guy who wrecked the running game, let me tell you this:  He didn’t coach the running backs.  Wilbert Montgomery did.  As someone in the organization said to me yesterday, “Wilbert’s job was to make the running backs better.  Whether or not he did that is up to you (the media) guys to decide and report on in whatever fashion you want.”

Oddly enough, the Ravens also brought in a smart football mind in 2013 to help with their defense.  His name was Steve Spagnuolo. The former Rams Head Coach joined the club as their “Senior Defensive Assistant”.  The Ravens defense, as we saw time and time again, couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down.  They had a tendency to give up the big play in the 4th quarter as the Ravens tried to steal a win or two in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Cincinnati.  Even though the defense outperformed the offense in 2013, the team’s defense was certainly a liability on a somewhat regular basis.  Why, then, was Spagnuolo not the same sort of lightning rod as Castillo?  One reason:  Title.

Castillo’s title suggested he was going to “fix” the running game.

Spagnuolo’s title suggested he was there to watch game film with Harbaugh and play racquetball with the coaches and front office members on Tuesday afternoons.

In theory — and based on his day to day duties — Castillo was brought on board to work with the offensive line.  We all know, of course, that was quite a mountain to climb for anyone…based on the personnel.

It would have helped the running game, for sure, if the offensive line that Castillo coached would have been better.  And, perhaps, the running game would have been better if Castillo and Andy Moeller coached their players better.

The running game might have also performed better if the running backs were in shape when training camp started — and capable of taking the punishment of an NFL season.

Here’s the one bullet point from yesterday that was reinforced to me by a staffer: The biggest loss the team incurred – player wise –  was Matt Birk.  And, as the staffer emphasized, “It wasn’t even close.  Our most significant loss was Birk.  We’re a playoff team if he’s the center.”

Moving forward, now, Juan Castillo is the team’s Offensive Line Coach.

There’s no word what that means for Andy Moeller.

And the team currently doesn’t have a “Running Backs Coach” after the departure of Montgomery.

One thing, for sure…regardless of title, the microscope remains focused on Juan Castillo.

For better or worse, he’s the new scapegoat in town moving forward.

And Baltimore, perhaps like no other city in the country, loves themselves a good old fashioned scapegoat.

Have fun, Juan.

Comments (8)

D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In honor of the first Tuesday Top 7 of 2014, Drew Forrester and Luke Jones of The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction selected their top seven local sports figures to watch in 2014.

Some of the names are predictable while others may just be establishing themselves on the local sports scene, but each is worth following closely in 2014 for different reasons.

To listen to Jones’ full explanation for his list, click HERE. Forrester’s breakdown of his seven names can be found HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014 …

7. Towson running back and NFL Draft prospect Terrance West
west
Skinny: Not only will the FCS record-breaking back be drafted, but it will be fun to watch his progress and to see how his skills translate to the next level.

6. Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs
diggs
Skinny: Questions will linger about the Terps’ ability to compete in the Big Ten, but a breakout 2014 campaign would likely have the offensive playmaker thinking carefully about the NFL.

5. Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman
gausman
Skinny: Assuming the Orioles’ offseason continues at its current pace, the 23-year-old right-hander’s development will be critical in determining whether the club remains in contention.

4. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
suggs
Skinny: The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year may have already played his final game in Baltimore if he’s not willing to adjust his $12.4 million salary cap number for the 2014 season.

3. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado
machado
Skinny: Coming off knee surgery and entering just his second full season in the majors, the 21-year-old will be counted on to not only be healthy but to take his already-impressive game to the next level.

2. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
flacco
Skinny: The spotlight on the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player will be brighter than ever after a disappointing 2013 season and considering his cap number balloons to $14.8 million in 2014.

1. Orioles manager Buck Showalter
buck
Skinny: After two poor offseasons in a row, does the Baltimore skipper reach his breaking point with an organization lacking the commitment to build on its recent success?

CONTINUE FOR DREW FORRESTER’S TOP 7 LOCAL SPORTS FIGURES TO WATCH IN 2014 >>>>>

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Caldwell to complete another head-coaching interview with Tennessee

Posted on 06 January 2014 by Luke Jones

Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell continues to receive interest as a potential NFL head coach and will interview with the Tennessee Titans later this week.

After completing interviews with the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins in recent days, Caldwell will reportedly meet with the Titans about their open position after they fired Mike Munchak on Saturday.

Caldwell spent three years as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and led them to Super Bowl XLIV before joining the Ravens as quarterbacks coach in 2012. He received much praise for the job he did with the Baltimore offense in helping the Ravens win a Super Bowl after being promoted to offensive coordinator on Dec. 10, 2012, but his offense struggled mightily in 2013 as the Ravens finished 29th in total yards and 25th in points scored while also setting franchise lows in rushing yards and yards per carry.

Baltimore parted ways with running backs coach Wilbert Mongtomery last week, and some have wondered whether a change is warranted at offensive coordinator despite teams having interest in Caldwell for their vacant head coaching positions.

 

Comments (0)