The Baltimore Ravens have confirmed reports that Jim Caldwell is interviewing for the Detroit Lions head coaching position.
Should he get hired, this would be a win-win for both organizations, and for minority coaches through the Fritz-Pollard Alliance (which promotes hiring of more minorities into head coaching and team front office positions).
Caldwell was widely credited for his help in developing the skills of Peyton Manning in the flex-style offense the Indianapolis Colts ran, which gave Manning a lot of options to change plays at the line, and run an up-tempo offense.
While Caldwell never served as an offensive coordinator for an NFL team before becoming the interim-OC of the Ravens late in the 2012 season, he had served as the head coach of Indianapolis, leading them to Super Bowl XLIV in 2009-10, where they lost to the New Orleans Saints.
Caldwell was successful in helping the Ravens play well in the playoffs last season en route to their Super Bowl XLVII win in January 2013, but the offense performed near the bottom of the league this season.
Joe Flacco, under Caldwell, played poorly this season with numbers that included greater than a yard-per-completion decline from 2012, the lowest yards per attempt of his career, and more interceptions than touchdowns for the first time. The Ravens were also better than only the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars in red zone touchdown percentage.
Caldwell potential hire by the Lions would be beneficial to that team in developing quarterback Matthew Stafford, which had been an issue under Jim Schwartz, and in making even better use of the team’s outstanding wide receivers including Pro Bowler Calvin Johnson.
It would also excuse Ravens head coach John Harbaugh of the potential decision to have to fire his OC. During his year-end news conference on December 31, Harbaugh would commit to making any specific coaching changes.
The Ravens’ offense in 2013 was very uninspired, and one-dimensional with a non-functioning running game (partly due to an injury to Ray Rice), scheme changes to the offensive line, and overall poor play of multiple linemen including Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Gino Gradkowski. Even Marshall Yanda, who nevertheless made the Pro Bowl, wasn’t himself at times.
But Caldwell, knowing that Flacco had little time to throw, failed to make any significant changes in scheme to help Flacco out, and it showed during the season.
Losing Caldwell to a promotion would be the easiest solution to a major problem for the Ravens, without John Harbaugh having to make a tough call.
With the Lions’ top candidate Lovie Smith heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their head coaching position according to reports, Caldwell should figure to get some serious consideration after the Ravens Super Bowl win and Manning’s strong endorsement.
And if the Ravens OC is in fact lured away, somewhere out there John Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti will be smiling.