Monday, January 6, 2014
Sizing up the candidates: Jim Caldwell
By John Keim
The Washington Redskins interviewed Jim Caldwell for their head coaching vacancy Sunday.
Position: Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator
Recent background: Caldwell joined Baltimore as the quarterbacks coach in 2012, then took over for fired Cam Cameron late in the season. He remained in that role this season. The Ravens improved under Caldwell in total yards per game in his three regular season games (from 18th to 8th); rushing yards per game (17th to 6th) and passing yards per game (16th to 13th). However, they went down in total points during his three games, from 25.5 to 22.3. In the playoffs, though, they averaged 31.0 en route to a Super Bowl title.
The past: Caldwell was Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks coach in 2001 and served in the same role with Indianapolis from 2002-08. He was named as the Colts’ coach-in-waiting in January 2008 and replaced Tony Dungy a year later. The Colts went 14-2 in his first season, losing to New Orleans in the Super Bowl. They went 10-6 and 2-14 in his next two seasons. Caldwell was Wake Forest’s head coach from 1993-2000, compiling a 26-63 record with one winning season.
What I’ve heard: He’s considered cerebral -- and flexible. He does not have one set way of having things and will take input. One NFL coach said he’s heard good things about Caldwell. But, like others, he wonders about Caldwell’s inability to adjust to life without Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Without Manning, the Colts fell apart. He had more input in Baltimore’s offense this season – after taking over as offensive coordinator late last season and doing well. The Ravens finished 29th in total yards and 22nd in points. It’s a major knock that the Colts did so poorly without Manning. He’s considered a smart coach, but one former executive wondered about his ability to see the big picture and thought “[Redskins owner Dan] Snyder would eat him alive.”
Potential fit: There are things I like about Caldwell. His even-keel demeanor is good for any team and he would not be leaking any stories. Just not his style. He seems to understand it’s a players’ league and I don’t get the sense he’s worried about being upstaged by them. Jim Zorn was even keel, but also not a head coach type and had no background to point to so players – and management – could trust what he was saying and doing worked. Caldwell does have an NFL track record as a head coach, which includes a Super Bowl trip. Plus he was instrumental in helping the Ravens get there a year ago. Yes, his Indy was at that level already and he had Manning, but they got there. However, that demeanor is almost too low key and it’s hard to imagine it working with the Redskins. You can be low key and not a pushover, but I think the Redskins need a stronger personality in charge.