Whether it was on the sidelines as the skipper of the Indianapolis Colts or in the coach’s booth above the field as the interim offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, the look on Jim Caldwell’s face was always the same.
Dazed and confused.
Recently the media was invited to a chalk talk session with the team’s coordinators: Jim Caldwell (now, officially the “OC”); Dean Pees; and Jerry Rosburg. Not having had any real exposure to Caldwell I expected his portion of the session to be about as exciting as he is in the booth.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Caldwell was animated, extremely well spoken, passionate and engaging – essentially all of the things I thought he wasn’t!
He commands attention and while he had mine, I couldn’t help but to think about Joe Flacco. We’ve heard that the relationship between Jim and Joe is solid but I attributed that to something that I thought they had in common – a laid back personality. After watching Caldwell in action I now know that’s not the connectivity that bonds the two.
I think it’s all about trust.
As the Ravens OC continued to walk us through things that happen on the sidelines, in the booth and on the field and how they all tie together, it became increasingly clear that unlike his predecessor Cam Cameron, Caldwell empowers his quarterback. He prepares him, consults with him and then delivers a game plan the quarterback controls, not one that controls him.
There’s a big difference.
You see Caldwell doesn’t want his quarterback to be a robotic game manager. Instead he uses the days of preparation leading into a game to collaborate on a plan, have Flacco take ownership of it and then allow him to adjust to changing game conditions based upon what he sees and feels.
Do you think for a second that without such empowerment Flacco would have ever checked out of a running play on third and one up 31-29 with 7:14 remaining in the Super Bowl to throw a back shoulder pass to Anquan Boldin for a gain of 15?
That play, that crystalizing moment in such a high pressure situation on the biggest of stages, successfully executed could change the way Flacco performs going forward, particularly with Caldwell at the offensive helm.
With Cameron it was, “This is the plan, do as I say!”
With Caldwell it’s, “This is our plan, go out and play!”
When a quarterback buys in, he’s mentally sharper and able to process the rapidly changing environment that surrounds him more efficiently. And when that happens productivity soars.
One only needs to consider Flacco’s last 5 starts as proof.
Funny how his stoic, “deer-in-headlights” look, is now considered to be steely-eyed focus.
Chalk that up as another misinterpreted expression…