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Chapter 18: Fast as _ _ _ _! The Mile High Miracle and Jacoby Jones

Posted on 29 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio






“I told myself Joe might throw it to me if I haul my butt off the line,”

– Jacoby Jones (January 2013)




THE NFL PROVIDES PLENTY OF connectivity between its personalities, teams, cities, and rich history. The Ravens had never played a playoff game in Denver and had only faced the Broncos once in January – in the first playoff game in the franchise’s history. That was during the 2001 Super Bowl run when Trent Dilfer beat Brian Griese and Shannon Sharpe caught a miracle pass.

However, this January 2013 game would forever change how NFL fans remember Broncos vs. Ravens.

Baltimore already had plenty of history with both John Elway and Peyton Manning, who had joined forces in the Mile High City. Peyton had now gone to his second NFL outpost and dropped another vicious regular season beating on the Ravens in Baltimore. The Elway history in Baltimore had aged 30 years, but was still very real and a debt unpaid for anyone who had a true sense of local football history and the magnitude of his actions in 1983. Elway was one of the building blocks that allowed the Ravens to exist if you consider that the Colts needed to leave Baltimore before Art Modell could come.

Both Elway and Manning had richly earned villain status in the Charm City. And once again Ozzie Newsome would endure one more battle with Elway and Denver, bringing back the sick history from his Cleveland Browns days. Newsome told author John Feinstein in 2004 that the last words his father ever said to him were: “Watch out for Elway!”

The Manning history was a much fresher scab in Baltimore.

The ugly, pre-halftime Flacco interception and the 98-yard futile chase by the lumbering quarterback was 27 days old, yet still fresh in the minds of his supporters and detractors. The replay ran all day, every day the week of the game. There was that famous picture of Flacco, face down at the goal line after chasing Chris Harris the length of the field that painted a tale of abject failure. It was a well-circulated meme in social media with a myriad of Charlie Brown-like captions.

Ten days after throwing the interception, the Ravens clinched the AFC North crown for the second straight year and made the playoffs for the fifth consecutive time. Flacco came to The Grill at Harryman House in Reisterstown as the guest of Dennis Pitta for a WNST.net & AM 1570 live radio show. He addressed the Harris interception with his usual droll sense of humor.

“It wasn’t any different than any other interception I’ve thrown for a touchdown the other way,” Flacco said. “It’s not good, but stuff like that happens. I try to limit it and do all the things you want to do to make sure it doesn’t happen. But if you play aggressively, you have to deal with it.”

“The next day I was able to try to joke around a little bit about it,” Flacco said. “At least I wanted to see what everybody thought of my blazing speed trying to catch that guy,” Flacco delivered with a smile, sitting next to his best

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Chapter 16: I love you – and I mean it!

Posted on 27 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio





“If you ask me to give you three words to describe this team, I’ll use three that Ray Lewis used a few weeks ago: faith, hope and love. Those are biblical words, but those are probably the three most important words in the English language. Faith in each other and in whatever greater thing you believe. Always hopeful. You can be discouraged, but there is no such thing as being disheartened. Love is what holds the universe together. It’s a selflessness that you put others before yourself. That’s the ultimate team quality. We’ll need a lot of all three to get us where we want to go.”

– John Harbaugh (December 2012)





AFTER A THIRD CONSECUTIVE LOSS in the NFL, if there’s not some palpable tension in the air then you’ve probably got a football team that’s far too comfortable.

Head coach John Harbaugh’s tireless optimism and foundational principles would be tested with the New York Giants coming to town in Week 16 and the home crowd coming back to the stadium after booing and exiting early in the shellacking by the Denver Broncos.

Harbaugh’s core, old-fashioned philosophies about faith, hope and love were drilled into the team in this time of adversity. For the most part, the media didn’t believe. The fans were restless, and the team was that had been 9-2 with dreams of a bye and an AFC Championship home game was a mere shadow of its former self. Now they were just trying to make the playoffs at 9-5 while staring down the defending champs on Christmas weekend, knowing that Cincinnati would be playing to get into the playoffs the following weekend. The losing streak would’ve been four games had it not been for a 4th & 29 miracle in San Diego.

Make no mistake about it, the Ravens were not playing well, and they weren’t healthy.

Sure, Harbaugh used the “us vs. them” mentality and also said that people outside the building didn’t believe. But that only goes so far if the core philosophy isn’t grounded in self-belief and integrity in the work ethic that backs it up.

Harbaugh’s enthusiasm is tireless, and his optimism never ceases. In the first year, many players found it almost hokey, corny in many ways. But it’s what John Harbaugh believes and what his family has preached for his half century on the planet.

Let’s be honest: “Who’s got it better than us?” is implicit in its optimism, right?

His father’s famous refrain, which his brother Jim had adopted with the San Francisco 49ers, and made famous – “Who’s got it better than us?” – with the retort, “Nobody!” had almost become part of the NFL vernacular.

It assumes happiness and steadfastly conveys success and gratitude. And if you woke up and said it every morning – and more importantly, really believed it – you would also be eternally optimistic.

That’s the faith and hope part of the equation.

The love was probably the easiest sell on his players. It’s hard to find a John Harbaugh speech or press conference where he doesn’t convey the value of “team” and “sticking together” as core values. The friendships that had sprung from battling together

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Ravens-Lions: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 03 December 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — December football has arrived and with it the opportunity for the Ravens to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2014.

John Harbaugh’s team has struggled in the final month of the regular season in recent years, going an underwhelming 8-10 in regular-season games played in December and early January since Super Bowl XLVII. It’s a significant reason why Baltimore has found itself on the outside looking in in three of the last four seasons, but a 6-5 mark and a mediocre conference provide hope for 2017’s final stretch.

The Ravens are aiming for the first three-game winning streak since the start of the 2016 season.

Detroit also has plenty to play for as Jim Caldwell is trying to guide the Lions to the playoffs for the third time in his four seasons. The Ravens enter Sunday holding the final wild-card spot in the AFC while the 6-5 Lions are in eighth place in a very competitive NFC.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is a healthy scratch for the second time in three games, the latest disappointing development for the 2015 first-round pick. Return specialist and wide receiver Michael Campanaro is active after being a healthy scratch against Houston.

Rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey is active after being a limited participant in practices all week and going through an on-field workout with secondary coach Chris Hewitt. A thigh issue limited him to just seven defensive snaps in last Monday’s win over Houston, but fellow rookie Jaylen Hill once again being inactive would suggest that the Ravens are confident in Humphrey’s health.

As expected, running back Alex Collins is active and will start after being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Collins missed Wednesday’s practice with a calf issue, but he was a full participant on Thursday and Friday, leaving very little doubt about his status. Terrance West is inactive once again, another sign that Collins isn’t a concern.

After Joe Flacco’s broken knee brace was a topic of conversation throughout the week, it’s worth noting that the veteran quarterback was once again wearing one on his left knee during pre-game warmups.

The Lions will be without starting running back Ameer Abdullah (neck) as he was only able to log a limited practice on Friday. However, he’s averaging just 3.4 yards per carry for the league’s 30th-ranked rushing attack and Theo Riddick figured to present a bigger threat as a receiver out of the backfield against the Baltimore defense anyway.

Detroit right guard T.J. Lang (foot) is active after being designated as questionable on the final injury report. Starting center Travis Swanson (knee) was officially ruled out on Friday, leaving the Lions vulnerable against the formidable Ravens defensive line.

Former Ravens great Haloti Ngata spent time chatting with former teammates and coaches on the field prior to Sunday’s game. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle was placed on injured reserve with a biceps injury in October, bringing his third season with the Lions to a premature end.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Jerome Boger.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures reaching the mid-50s with calm winds up to six miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with black pants, the first time they’ve worn that uniform combination this season. Detroit is donning white tops with blue pants.

Sunday is the first meeting between these teams since 2013 when Justin Tucker famously hit a 62-yard field goal in the final minute to lift the Ravens to a 18-16 win in Detroit on Monday Night Football. Baltimore leads the all-time series with a 3-1 record and is 2-0 against the Lions at M&T Bank Stadium.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

WR Breshad Perriman
RB Terrance West
CB Jaylen Hill
OL Jermaine Eluemunor
OL Maurquice Shakir
DE Bronson Kaufusi
DE Chris Wormley

WR Bradley Marquez
RB Ameer Abdullah
RB Dwayne Washington
CB Jamal Agnew
S Rolan Milligan
C Travis Swanson
OT Emmett Cleary

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Will Mornhinweg provide spark Ravens offense needs?

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Based on their own history, the Ravens should be optimistic about the decision to make a change at offensive coordinator on Monday.

Of course, that feeling is relative as John Harbaugh’s decision to fire Marc Trestman wasn’t made lightly with the offense ranking in the bottom 10 in multiple categories, but the ninth-year head coach only needs to look at his Super Bowl ring to see what impact Jim Caldwell made in replacing Cam Cameron late in the 2012 season. In 2006, head coach Brian Billick parted ways with Jim Fassel after an offense-challenged 4-2 start and took over the play-calling for the duration of what would become the best regular season in franchise history at 13-3.

What can the Ravens expect from Marty Mornhinweg after two straight home losses that have threatened to derail a promising start to the 2016 campaign?

Unlike with Caldwell four years ago, Mornhinweg brings extensive experience as a play-caller after serving as an offensive coordinator for San Francisco (1997-2000), Philadelphia (2004-2012), and the New York Jets (2013-2014) in his long NFL coaching career. He guided multiple top 10 offenses with the talent-laden 49ers and Eagles, but he fared about as poorly in New York as you’d predict knowing how Geno Smith ultimately turned out as an NFL quarterback.

As you’d anticipate with any in-season coaching move, the Ravens aren’t about to tear up their playbook.

“It’s experience in this system — basically, the West Coast [offense] terminology,” Harbaugh said. “He fits right in. I know there will be some things that he will tweak, but the basic system is not going to change. The way we adjust some routes maybe or the way we organize our protections or some of our play-action passes, that’s all of the stuff that Marty has to do the way he believes it should be done. But the basic system terminology [and] the way we operate remains the same.”

It was a similar story for Caldwell, who replaced the man who had overseen the Ravens offense for nearly five full seasons. The change wasn’t a magic potion, but Caldwell welcomed more input from players, used the middle of the field more effectively in the passing game, and had a better feel for the utilization of the no-huddle offense as Joe Flacco would respond to the change by playing the best football of his career in a historic playoff run.

The 2013 season showed that Caldwell wasn’t a miracle worker as personnel losses and a broken running game led to a disappointing 8-8 record for the defending Super Bowl champions, but he was able to provide that spark in 2012 for a talented group to find its way. Harbaugh can only hope that Mornhinweg will have a similar effect this time around.

The job will start with unleashing a running game that’s looked better over the last two weeks despite continuing to be underutilized by Trestman. With an offensive line currently battling injuries and a young running back in Terrance West averaging 5.0 yards per carry, there’s just no reason for Flacco to be throwing the ball 45 or 50 times per game unless the Ravens are behind by multiple scores.

“We are improving. That is the tug-of-war you always have in there,” said Harbaugh, citing a conversation he had with offensive line coach Juan Castillo about the ground attack on Monday. “We all have a lot of pride, and we want to find a way to keep improving it within that. Next week is a new week. It is getting better. I do like the way Terrance is running, and I like the way the other guys are running, too. I expect to see more of those guys, also. More carries for everybody would be good.”

Perhaps Harbaugh — the longtime special teams coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles before being hired in Baltimore — recalled the work Mornhinweg did for the Eagles in 2006 when head coach Andy Reid handed over the play-calling duties after a blowout loss to Indianapolis in Week 12. With Mornhinweg placing more emphasis on the running game, the Eagles — led by backup quarterback Jeff Garcia — won six games in a row to advance to the second round of the playoffs that season.

No matter how much frustration there might have been with Trestman, this change can’t be viewed as a magic fix as there are issues going beyond the play-calling.

The offensive line must get healthy and perform at a higher level than we’ve witnessed through the first five games.

Wide receivers other than the 37-year-old Steve Smith must show better hands and more consistency, and it will then be up to Mornhinweg to find the vertical passing game envisioned by many throughout the offseason and summer.

The trio of young running backs will need to take advantage of the increased number of carries expected to come their way.

And despite being lower on the list of concerns, Flacco must still play better than he has so far in 2016.

If players don’t take these challenges into their own hands, the promotion of Mornhinweg will only be a footnote in a season suddenly moving in the wrong direction.

“We just need to get better,” Harbaugh said. “I didn’t feel in my gut that — going the way we were going — it was going to change [and] it was going to be able to get better. Not that everybody wasn’t trying. Everybody was doing everything they could do. I just think we need different chemistry in there right now to get to where we need to go.

“Marc Trestman’s the guy that’s going to suffer the most at this time, but it’s all of our responsibility that this happened. It’s all of our responsibility to get it right.”

And it will be all of their responsibility if history is to repeat itself for the Ravens.

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Rice continues waiting for second chance that may never come

Posted on 27 March 2015 by Luke Jones

It was exactly four months ago Saturday that former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones overturned Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension levied by the NFL on the same day the sickening video that changed everything was released.

And that video is the biggest reason why the former Ravens running back reportedly hasn’t received as much as a visit or even a tryout with another team despite the many who have offered their endorsements for him around the league. Various Ravens officials and players have expressed hopes of Rice receiving another chance while former Baltimore assistants such as Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano and Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell — men who know Rice better than most and who both had a need at running back this offseason — have echoed that sentiment.

Nearly everyone in the NFL who knows Rice wants him to receive another chance, but no one wants to be the one to provide it.

Should Ray Rice receive another chance in the NFL?

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The 2008 second-round pick remains unsigned while the likes of Trent Richardson — along with his train wreck of a career as a former No. 3 overall pick in 2012 — and Darren McFadden — and his 3.3 yards per carry average over the last three seasons — have found new homes in free agency. Make no mistake, Rice’s 3.1 yards per carry average in 2013 is a real factor contributing to his frigid market, but even several running backs you’d describe as “has-beens” or “never-weres” have received work on the open market as the calendar turns to April this coming week.

Yes, the video is what distinguishes Rice from Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, who both landed elsewhere despite their own dark clouds of domestic violence hanging over their heads. Opinions vary on whether any of the aforementioned men deserve second chances in the NFL, but it’s clear a different standard has been attached to the 28-year-old running back.

The Ravens were willing to stick by Rice until the public relations nightmare of a second video surfaced on Sept. 8, and it’s that visual of the heinous act that makes him unemployable while others who’ve committed — or who have been accused of committing — similar acts have received more of a pass. Fair or not, it appears to be reality for Rice, who continues to wait for his second chance.

Will Ray Rice receive another chance in the NFL?

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If no team signs Rice soon, his chances wouldn’t appear to improve with the upcoming draft that includes a deep group of quality running backs who are several years younger and possess more upside.

Four months after an arbitrator ruled in Rice’s favor and forced his reinstatement, the question is no longer whether he should receive another chance. Everyone has his or her own opinion on that matter that’s unlikely to change at this point.

But when those who know Rice best won’t even give the three-time Pro Bowl selection a second chance, you must seriously wonder if it will ever happen.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Posted on 15 January 2014 by WNST Staff


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.”

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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.



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