OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Jim Caldwell spent 10 years doing his best to help Indianapolis win. Now Baltimore’s offensive coordinator, he’s focused on beating the Colts.
Caldwell and the Ravens host Indianapolis on Sunday in a first-round playoff game. In a strange twist of fate, Caldwell is going up against his former team. Even quirkier: Caldwell’s successor in Indianapolis, Chuck Pagano, was Baltimore’s defensive coordinator last year.
“It’s ironic to get an opportunity to play against them, but it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Caldwell said Thursday. “Chuck probably feels the same way on the other side over there.”
Hired by the Colts in 2002 to be their quarterbacks coach, Caldwell was ultimately promoted to head coach in 2009. He was dismissed last year after a dismal 2-14 season and signed by the Ravens in February to coach the quarterbacks. On Dec. 10, he replaced fired Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator and has since been calling the shots for Baltimore’s offense.
Caldwell, 57, likes his current role, but still longs to be an NFL head coach.
“Anybody in this business would certainly like to get to the point where they reach the top of their profession,” he said. “They’d love to have an opportunity to be a head coach, and I’m no different.”
But the task at hand is to help Baltimore (10-6) beat the Colts (11-5).
“I typically don’t think too far beyond this next ball game,” Caldwell said. “Tomorrow is not even promised to me. I really don’t think that far ahead. I’m not looking off, gazing into the sunrise or something of that nature. I’m trying to make certain that I’m doing my job and getting our guys ready to go out and play. We’ve got a real chore ahead of us.”
He holds no ill will toward the Colts. During a coaching career that began in 1977, Caldwell never spent time in one place longer than Indianapolis.
“You don’t spend 10 years in a place and walk away from it and not have (feelings) toward some of the guys you coached,” he said. “Ten years in this profession is an eternity. Three years is a long time for a coach. So yeah, it’s a bit different in that regard. But will it make any difference in how we go about the game, how we call the game, how we practice and prepare for the game? Absolutely not.”
Translation: Forget the old ties, Indy, this weekend is all about Baltimore.
“I went to the University of Iowa and when I was at Northwestern we played against my alma mater,” Caldwell recalled. “At that point in time, all I was concentrating on was doing my job and trying to get a victory. It will be no different in this game.”
Caldwell’s run in Indianapolis began with a berth in the Super Bowl and ended with a miserable season in which standout quarterback Peyton Manning hurt his neck and was unable to perform. Caldwell has no regrets about what happened last year, even though a myriad of injuries handcuffed his effort to win.
“For the most part, I believe the good Lord has a plan for us, and often times it’s not as picturesque as we might like it,” Caldwell said. “It might not unfold as we might have planned, but it unfolded in the way he wanted it, and I’m satisfied with that. Coming here was a blessing me, and I’m certainly glad to be here.”
This is his first job as an offensive coordinator, and the Colts still don’t quite have a grip on his tendencies.
“I think everybody is different as a coordinator. We’re just trying to see what Jim’s trying to do with the offense,” Indianapolis defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “I know that he took it over when Cam had it. There are some similarities of course, because he can’t just go in there and scratch it across the board. He’s doing a good job.”
Some of the Ravens feel that way, too.
“I think he’d be a guy you would consider to be a player’s coach,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “I have a lot of respect for him because he gets the point across without being aggressive or disrespectful. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to play for because he respects you as a man first. And he knows what he’s doing.”
Smith believes Caldwell deserves another chance to be a head coach.
“He would be a guy people would rally around. He understands the game, on both sides of the ball,” Smith said. “I think he would be a great head coach. You can tell by the way he communicates with folks. He’s been a head coach before, and maybe he’ll get another shot down the road. But as long as he doesn’t leave before we’re done.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)