It remains to be seen whether Ravens Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell winds up leaving for a head coaching opportunity. He's reportedly interviewing with two NFL teams, and his alma mater, Penn State, is looking for a new coach.
But regardless if Caldwell lands any of those jobs, the Ravens should start preparing for the day when they need a new offensive coordinator. It's coming.
I'm sure Head Coach John Harbaugh gave Caldwell the position after firing Cam Cameron in December 2012 because Caldwell is accomplished, with an agile mind – a coach's coach, probably up to just about any task. However,
Caldwell was never a natural fit for the OC role. He came to Baltimore as a former pro and college head coach specializing in quarterback play. He had never filled the role of running an offense, designing the framework, calling plays – a different job, for sure.
His first weeks on the job were legendary. The offense took off after he took over and didn't slow down until the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
Things didn't go nearly as smoothly in 2013, but I would hesitate to pin too much of that on Caldwell. He couldn't help that his running game practically disappeared, or that his top tight end suffered a serious injury, or that the front office traded his quarterback's favorite wideout, or that his quarterback established a career high in interceptions.
In any case, my thought all along, from the moment he replaced Cameron, was that Caldwell was a short-timer in the OC role, destined to eventually get back to whispering in some quarterback's ear or running a team somewhere – probably the latter, given his estimable reputation.
Frankly, if I'm Penn State, I can't think of a better guy to set the right tone and example for recruits, alumni and fans as the school continues to dig out from its searing scandal. Caldwell is almost professorial, all class. Some Baltimore fans are ready for him to go after the offense's underwhelming season, but there are reasons why he's being linked to so many jobs.
He could end up spending another season here, but the clock is ticking.
Reading the details of Jay Cutler's big contract gives me a headache. There are so many clauses, escalators, ins and outs that you almost need a master's degree in economics to figure it all out.
I'd rather shovel snow than pour over it. In fact, that's just what I did Friday.
Here's all you need to know: The Chicago Bears gave Cutler a deal that closely resembles Joe Flacco's deal with the Ravens in terms of length and guaranteed money. The general commitment is about the same.
It's a lot of money, and Flacco is a red-light special bargain by comparison. He earned his deal by proving he could carry a team to a Super Bowl victory. His teams have made the playoffs in five of his six pro seasons. Cutler's teams have made the playoffs only once in his eight seasons as a starter in Denver and Chicago.
Knowing that, it's hard to believe the Bears gave him so much. But Cutler is a talented, big-armed guy with a high upside, and the Bears were in the same position as the Ravens a year ago. If they didn't pay their guy the going rate, they would have to start over under center. They chose continuity, which always gives you a better chance of winning.
I've always believed sports fans in Baltimore enjoy rooting against certain teams almost as much as they enjoy rooting for their own. Great joy is taken in seeing the Yankees or Steelers lose.
This season's NFL playoff field seems slightly lacking in teams to hate. The Steelers are out. The Redskins are out, as usual. Who can Baltimore root against?
Well, there's always the New England Patriots. The Belichicks pretty much ruined the Ravens' season at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 22. There's also the Indianapolis Colts, for obvious reasons. I'm guessing there's no love for the Cincinnati Bengals, who wrested away the Ravens' AFC North title.
But that's about it as far as natural opposition. You can root against the San Francisco 49ers because it's annoying that they still have a chance to get back to the Super Bowl. You can root against the Denver Broncos because John Elway stiffed Baltimore a million years ago. You can root against the San Diego Chargers because the weather is a lot warmer out there. But that's all a bit of a stretch.
Otherwise, if anyone can gin up reasons to root against the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks or Green Bay Packers, please pass those reasons along. The playoffs are starting.