Jim Caldwell hasn’t called plays in the NFL.
But there are other factors that make him confident he can do it as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator.
Despite previous reports, Caldwell does have some college experience calling plays. He’ll also have the help of his staff, including a former offensive coordinator (Jim Hostler). And for many years, he has been involved in the inner-workings of various successful offenses even though he wasn’t making the final call.
“It’s not easy, I know that,” Caldwell said of calling plays.
“In this league, no [I haven’t called plays]. But I’ve been involved in game planning and special situations and things of that nature. This time around is going to be a lot of fun. And I don’t have to do it alone.”
Caldwell has been preparing and rehearsing his system this week in practice.
He’s been making calls, relaying them to Hostler, the wide receivers coach, who audios them to quarterback
When it comes to Sunday against Denver, the process will be the same except Caldwell expects to be up in the coaches’ booth, which is where he has been stationed as the team’s quarterbacks coach.
Being in the booth allows for a larger view of the entire field, but cuts the coach off from immediate sideline communication with players. Thus, Caldwell will rely on his position coaches on the field to relay what players are telling them on the sidelines.
Caldwell has spent a lot of time talking with quarterbacks about play calling. He was a quarterbacks coach for eight years between Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Baltimore, which has put him in the thick of the action when it comes to deciding what plays are called.
He said a lot of the offense’s gelling runs through the signal caller, and he’s had the opportunity to suggest plays.
“Any time you have been coaching quarterbacks, the offense runs through you,” Caldwell said.
“There’s not anything that you should not know if you have a good sense of it if you are coaching the quarterbacks. You are involved in every situation. It’s not just third down; it’s not just first and second down. It’s also short-yardage [situations], goal line, you name it.”
Caldwell does have some real in-game experience making the final decision.
He called all the team’s offensive plays when he was the head coach and offensive coordinator at Wake Forest in 1999. In that year, the Demon Deacons had their first winning season and went to a bowl game for the first time since 1992.
Caldwell was asked for the difference between calling plays in college and the pros.
“Things happen quickly, which they do in college as well,” he said. “You have to be able to adjust. But the real thing is that at this particular level, it’s an elite level and everything has to be precise.”