Friday, December 14, 2012
Caldwell's challenge: Get Flacco on track
By Jamison Hensley
New Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell doesn't have a lot of experience calling plays. The last time he did so was 1999 when he was the head coach at Wake Forest.
What Caldwell does have going for him is his relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco. Caldwell, who has been the Ravens' quarterbacks coach this season, has to figure out a way to get Flacco on top of his game in his first game as Baltimore's playcaller. It will be good for Caldwell to keep running back Ray Rice involved in the second half, but his priority has to be getting Flacco's season turned around.
Flacco has thrown for less than 200 yards in five of his past seven games. Since Week 7, he ranks 20th in the NFL with 218.6 yards passing per game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That ranks behind Nick Foles and Jake Locker.
Where Caldwell can help Flacco is get him more in a comfort zone. That could lead to more no huddle, which Flacco has campaigned for this season.
"I think he’s growing and developing. I really do," Caldwell said of Flacco. "I think he’s getting better. I think he’s been getting a better grasp of things. I think you will continue to see Joe improve.”
What has to change is Flacco forcing the ball downfield. His average pass goes 9.8 yards in the air, the highest rate of his career. But Flacco is completing 40.1 percent of the passes that go 10 yards downfield, which is the second-worst rate in the NFL.
Another trouble area has been Flacco's pocket presence. He's had the ball stripped away in each of his past two games.
"Turnovers hurt us. Yeah, that does have to be better," Flacco said. "Anytime you lose the ball in the pocket, you look at yourself and see what you have to do. Those guys made good plays, but you have to hold onto the ball. We don’t want to turn the ball over, and I think I do a pretty consistent job of doing that, and we’ve just got to make sure that we continue to do it moving forward.”