In fact, one of the reasons I believe he landed the job in Detroit is the very reason he may not have been the best fit moving forward as offensive coordinator for the Ravens. Caldwell is known as a big picture person. It was reported that Caldwell brought a well organized vision to his Lions’ interview. That all plays to his strengths—calm, steady, big picture oriented, organized, a collaborator, and one who facilitates. He was the perfect person to take over last year late in the season from fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Uncertainty, stubbornness, and narrow-mindedness would be what described the offense last year before the change was made.
However, last year’s team and this year’s team differed greatly. Caldwell had the weapons last year—a strong-armed quarterback, a high performing offensive line, a versatile running game, speed on the outside, and two possession receivers patrolling the middle of the field. This year he had, um, um…well, he had a strong-armed quarterback.
Caldwell can be best compared to a Hollywood script-doctor—someone who can take something with potential, tweak it, and make the necessary changes to make it better. He is better-suited in overseeing an organization and operation, putting people in place to be successful rather than diving into the intricacies of coordinator. I don’t think he was ever comfortable in this role as coordinator.
The current offense of the Ravens needs someone who is creative, innovative, risk-taking, and someone who can breathe life into a stale, vanilla offense. Below is a list of people that have been connected to the job.
Jim Hostler: current wide receivers coach of the Ravens, play-calling collaborator of Caldwell
Outside the Organization
Kyle Shanhan: former offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans
Rob Chudzinski: fired Cleveland Browns’ coach; former offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers
Gary Kubiak: former Houston Texans’ head coach; former offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos
Jim Zorn: former Ravens’ quarterbacks coach; former offensive coordinator and head coach of the Washington Redskins
Al Saunders: former Ravens’ offensive consultant; current Oakland Raiders’ offensive assistant
Mike Sullivan: former offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Karl Dorrell: former quarterbacks coach of the Houston Texans
Rhett Lashlee: current offensive coordinator at Auburn University
Coaches Lost to the Competitors
Norv Turner: close to signing as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings
Ben McAdoo: newly named offensive coordinator of the New York Giants (former quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers)
Bill Lazor: newly named offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions (former quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles)
To be honest, this list is not overwhelming. There are certain names on this list that raise red flags—Shanahan and Chuzinski are the two prominent. There are names that bring familiarity from the past—Zorn and Saunders. And, there are names that have clout and names that are relatively unknown. Hostler, once a front-runner as the in-house candidate, would bring more of the same we have seen in years past.
Could we see a combination offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach from the list above? Maybe. Joe Flacco’s two worse statistical seasons came in seasons where there was no quarterback coach (2011 and 2013). Whatever the situation is with the offensive coordinator, the Ravens need to find a quarterbacks coach as well.
This final decision, I believe, will contain the fingerprints of owner Steve Bisciotti. He built his company, Aerotek, through creativity, innovation, thinking outside the box, and by being a calculated risk-taker.
The new offensive coordinator of the Ravens will need to emulate its owner.