In a game of musical chairs that is no rarity to the NFL, Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano was hired to replace Indianapolis head coach Jim Caldwell, who was then hired by Baltimore as quarterbacks coach. The most notable aspect of the Caldwell hiring is that Caldwell was Peyton Manning's quarterbacks coach for seven years. The move by the Ravens is intriguing for another related reason: Caldwell was head coach of an Indianapolis Colts team for two years during which Peyton Manning had complete control of the offense.
Fans have been clamoring for Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's head, even following a 12-4 season and a strong offensive performance in the AFC title game. One of the reasons for the discontent is the widespread perception that Cameron is a micromanager and that he handcuffs quarterback Joe Flacco. Many people in Baltimore were ready for the “Is it Cam or is it Joe” question to be answered. The Ravens announced last week that Cameron would be back. While Caldwell's hiring will not silence Cameron critics, it could usher in a chance of “policy” in the Cam/Joe era.
Caldwell is certainly not going to turn Joe Flacco (or anyone else) into Peyton Manning. However, as quarterbacks coach and as head coach, Caldwell is used to a culture in which the quarterback is as much offensive coordinator as the offensive coordinator. Did the Ravens hire Caldwell simply due to his proven ability to teach the fundamentals? Or will Caldwell be given the power to develop Joe's ability and opportunity to run the offense?
Cam Cameron was both offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2011. Whatever it is that the Ravens hope Caldwell will bring to the table, his hiring is an acknowledgment that the offense can be improved by changing the way Flacco is handled. This begs the question, if the Ravens organization itself sees an issue with Cameron's management of the presumed franchise quarterback, was bringing back the offensive coordinator the best move?
The NFL off-season raises more questions than answers for every team. Speculation replaces analysis, looking forward becomes the only option when critiquing off-season moves. No one within the Ravens organization or outside of it knows what impact the hiring of a quarterbacks coach will have on the Baltimore offense. For that, we'll have to wait until next fall. One thing is for sure, though: hiring Caldwell will impact the future of Flacco and thus the offense. So think about it, talk about it, hypothesize—what else can we do while we wait?