By DAVID GINSBURG
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Jim Caldwell enjoys his job as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, and he’s quite good at it.
Before taking over in early December Caldwell had never held the position at any level — yet the Ravens’ attack has flourished under his direction. Quarterback Joe Flacco has looked sharp, the play-calling has been unpredictable and Baltimore has scored 90 points in three playoff games to earn a berth in the Super Bowl.
Caldwell’s success prompted head coach John Harbaugh to ask him to retain the post in 2013. Caldwell appreciates the opportunity, but has no intention of making “Offensive Coordinator, Baltimore Ravens” the last line on his resume.
The 58-year-old Caldwell wants to be a head coach. He did it in Indianapolis from 2009-11, and is itching for another crack at the top job in his profession.
“At some point in time, if the Lord wills it, I’d love to be able to do it again,” Caldwell said Friday. “But it may not happen. Everybody in our profession is looking for an opportunity to run their own program, and I’m no different than anybody else in that regard.”
Caldwell might have gotten the chance to at least interview for an opening if he wasn’t so busy helping the Ravens earn a date with San Francisco in the Super Bowl next Sunday.
“I had a couple of GMs tell me, ‘If it weren’t for your guys’ success in the playoffs and continuing to play, then he would have been someone we would have interviewed,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “Hopefully next year we’re in the same spot, and it will be tough for him to get interviews again. Really, though, I can see him getting that opportunity a year from now.”
Caldwell certainly is a viable candidate for a head coaching job. He took the Colts to the Super Bowl in 2009 and was instrumental in the development of quarterback Peyton Manning. He’s also provided the Baltimore offense with a boost after replacing the fired Cam Cameron on Dec. 10.
Some coaches are fiery. Some break clipboards to get a player’s attention. Caldwell does none of that.
“Man, he is so humble, laid back,” Baltimore receiver Jacoby Jones said. “But he’s a smart man. He reads a lot of books, gives you a lot of quotes. He’s so diverse.”
The NFL’s Rooney Rule was designed to provide diversity among NFL head coaches and GMs, but if Caldwell — an African American with impressive credentials — can’t get an interview, then maybe it’s time to fix the process.
“I do think that it’s something that certainly needs to be revisited, and is going to be revisited,” Caldwell said. “I’m not one of the individuals that started that particular drive to do so. There’s been a lot of very intelligent men that have looked at this thing and talked about it in depth, so I think that’s going to happen.
In the meantime, Caldwell is preparing for the Super Bowl while dozens of other coaches are at home looking forward to next year. So, despite not getting an interview, he has no regrets.
“None whatsoever. I’d certainly rather be right where I am right now, with you asking me this question,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen that often in your career to be fortunate enough to have this opportunity. I’m thankful. The other things, they’ll take care of themselves somewhere down the road.”
Caldwell deserves plenty of credit for Baltimore’s surprising run to the Super Bowl. In the six games since he’s taken over, the Ravens have averaged 26.2 points and 406.2 yards of offense. During the playoffs, Baltimore has scored touchdowns on eight of 10 trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
“What coach Caldwell has done has kept the offense simple and basic,” running back Ray Rice said. “He put the game into Joe Flacco’s hands, and Joe has done a great job — phenomenal job — of leading us to where we needed to be. We are right here where we want to be right now.”
And maybe, so is Caldwell. For now, anyway. He expressed genuine appreciation and thanks Friday when talking about being asked to return in 2013.
“I’m excited about it. Certainly very honored and humbled as well,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for me, in particular working within this organization. I’m looking forward to it, but right now I’m looking forward to this next ball game we’ve got coming up. That’s the most important thing.”