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Caldwell relishes chances to run Ravens offense

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Caldwell relishes chances to run Ravens offense

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Don't expect Jim Caldwell to incorporate the triple-option or a variety of trick plays in his first NFL game as an offensive coordinator.

Caldwell grabbed the reins of the Baltimore Ravens' offense on Monday after head coach John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron. Caldwell was in his first year as Baltimore's quarterbacks coach, a job he will retain moving forward.

For his first assignment as an offensive coordinator, the 57-year-old Caldwell will be asked to oversee and direct an attack that must outdo Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, whom Caldwell coached in Indianapolis.

``It may seem like a bit of a novelty, but it isn't.,'' Caldwell said Thursday. ``We both have a job to do.''

Caldwell takes over a unit that has is ranked 18th in total yardage and has been inconsistent throughout the season. With only three weeks to go, he intends to tweak the offense rather than overhaul it.

``Obviously there's not going to be a system change of any sort,'' he said. ``I'll add a few wrinkles here and there. For the most part, I think the guys are comfortable with what we do. I've got to find what best suits our personnel and utilize that. Do the things that we do best.''

Cameron was criticized for not using running back Ray Rice enough, and others questioned whether quarterback Joe Flacco showed improvement from a year ago. Caldwell wouldn't tip his hand on how he intends to utilize either player, but it appears as if he can't wait to put his stamp on a unit with plenty of weapons.

``The reason why I coach is that I have a great passion for the game,'' he said. ``I love a challenge. There is nothing about professional football that's easy. So it's going to require everything you have and just a little bit more. That's what makes me excited about what we're doing.''

His only wish was that this opportunity came under different circumstances.

``The situation is tough. I hate to see a colleague lose his job,'' Caldwell said. ``I've been fired a few times as well. That's the tough part of it. But nevertheless I certainly am excited about having the opportunity to work with some outstanding men in a great organization with outstanding people surrounding me. Let's see what we can do.''

Flacco, like many players on the team, was stunned to see Cameron dismissed - especially at a time when the Ravens needed only one more win to clinch a fifth consecutive playoff berth. But Baltimore (9-4) has lost two in a row, and with a defense depleted by injury, it was time for the offense to take charge and make things happen.

``I think as an offense, we have to look at ourselves and see what we can do to be better,'' Flacco said. ``Obviously, we weren't good enough.''

With Caldwell at the helm, things won't be much different - although he intends to work in the booth rather than on the sideline, as Cameron did.

``Anytime you've been coaching quarterbacks, the offense runs through you,'' Caldwell said. ``That's what I've always been excited about.''

Quite a change for a guy who was a four-year starter at defensive back for Iowa from 1973-76 and began his coaching career working with the defense.

``I went to the offensive side of the ball to get a good sense of balance and things of that nature,'' Caldwell said. ``I wanted to really know offensive football. So the great majority of the latter part of my career has been on offense. There's not anything that you should not know if you're coaching the quarterbacks because you're involved in every situation.''

Now, though, he will be responsible for calling the plays. Whether he maintains the job after this season remains to be seen.

``You know what? I don't look any further than the next day,'' he said. ``Nothing's promised to you. In the Bible it tells you that. What I do is do my job. We'll worry about the other things down the road.''

Caldwell was head coach at Indianapolis from 2009-11. He was fired after the team went 2-14 in 2011, but still harbors hopes of getting another chance.

``I think if you're in this business that should always be your goal. Right?'' he said. ``I don't think I'll ever lose that particular desire until the point in time when they run me out of this business.''

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Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens are back after their bye week and are headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on the 5-4 Packers.

Prior to the bye week, the Ravens lost a close one to the Tennessee Titans, allowing Marucs Mariota to throw a late touchdown in the fourth to wide receiver Eric Decker. 

The first half of their season has been rough. Joe Flacco hasn't performed up to his Super Bowl MVP status and is looking to change that in their last seven games. 

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS SO FAR THIS SEASON 

Running back Danny Woodhead-who has been out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury- returned to practice and could be playing Sunday. 

The Ravens' receiving core hasn't shown up either. John Harbaugh's team is as healthy right now as they've been all season, something that will be very important in Lambeau Field. Can the Ravens get back on track and steal the sixth and final AFC playoff spot? Their first step could be against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers.

The Packers have been without Rodgers since Week 6 and are now being lead by Brett Hundley.

Hundley currently has a 69.1% QB rating and 2 touchdowns, but is listed on their Week 11 injury report with a hamstring injury.

Packers starting running back Ty Montgomery, is listed a questionable and did not participate in Wednesday's practice with a rib injury.

RELATED: FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 11 RANKINGS 

They are ranked 22nd in the league in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards. Something the Ravens defense should be able to handle.

The Ravens and Packers have met five times, with the Packers leading the series 4-1. The last time they met was in October of 2013 when the Packers beat the Ravens on the road, 19-17.

Ahead of Sunday's game, here's everything you need to know to watch.

Week 11 Ravens vs. Packers Game Info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers

What: Week 11 NFL regular season 

When: 1:00 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: fuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -2

Over/Under: 38

Weather: 30 degrees, mostly sunny

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): 20-0  at Cincinnati Bengals (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): 24-10 vs. Cleveland Browns (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): 44-7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) (L)

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (W)

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. (W)

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m

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Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

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USA TODAY Sports

Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

It hasn't been pretty, that's for sure.

There were many questions for the Ravens heading into the 2017 season and halfway through, some of those questions still remain.

As rough as you may think it has been, the Ravens are only one game behind the Buffalo Bills for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot.

Wild, right?

Sitting at 4-5 with seven games to go, the season is far from over.

While there's been a lot of bad, there's also been some good. Let's start with the biggest issue.

1) Flacco, offense still trying to figure things out

Joe Flacco missed the entire preseason with a lingering back injury and many questioned how efficient he would be seeing game action for the first time in Week 1.

Well, the Ravens started off the season 2-0 and it seemed as if Flacco — in his tenth season — could just hop right back into things. But, since the 2-0 start, Flacco has been anything but "Joe Cool." In nine games, he's thrown for 1,551 yards, 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 72.7 QB rating.

Naturally, 32-year-old Flacco isn't going to be the fresh, young QB he was during his consecutive five-year playoff run. With a collapsing offensive line and no reliable receivers to throw to, it's difficult to put all of the blame on him.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace have all missed playing time this season with injuries and concussions. The same applies to the Ravens' tight end group.

The team ranks dead last in the league in passing yards, but 10th in rushing yards.

However, their running back depth took a hit in July when Kenneth Dixon tore his medial meniscus in OTA's, ending his season.

Then Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1, but has returned to practice and could make his return against the Packers, and Terrance West hasn't played since Week 5 with a calf injury. 

In comes the Ravens' running back saint, Alex Collins. 

Prior to the start of the season you had probably never heard of Collins, but the 23-year-old has rushed for 521 yards this season. He gives some credit to his training in Irish dance, which he said has helped with his foot work.

And their O-line hasn't had much luck either. Starting guard John Urschel informed the team on Day 1 of training camp that he would be retiring from the game to focus on receiving his PhD in mathematics from MIT. The team then lost guard Marshall Yanda for the year with an ankle injury.

Between all of this, it's been a rough go-around for the Ravens offense. They can't seem to get much going but head coach John Harbaugh still has faith in offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

Now that the Ravens offense has had some time to regroup and recover, Flacco said he's ready to come back in attack mode.

REALTED: WEEK 10 NFL POWER RANKINGS

2) Defense still dominates, but not yet consistent

Spotty: spot·ty [ˈspädē/]. adj.: marked with spots. of uneven quality; patchy. See Also: 2017 Baltimore Ravens defense

The Ravens are known for their resilient defense and are currently ranking 6th overall in the league. Inside linebacker CJ Mosely leads the team in tackles, with 76 with Tony Jefferson trailing behind him at 43.

Even though the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals aren't two of the top teams in the league, the Ravens defense shut both of them out this season. A hard accomplishment in the NFL.

On the other hand, looking at games like Week 9's matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Ravens defense allowed Marcus Mariota and company to drive down the field for a late Eric Decker touchdown. Something they were not happy about.

And in Week 6, they lost in overtime to the 3-6 Chicago Bears.

They are definitely still a dominate force in the league, but are working out some kinks.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

3) AFC mediocrity gives Ravens a fighting chance

The NFL in 2017 has been a bit strange. There is no core of dominating teams at the top.  More than any other season, this one appears as if success really is on a week-to-week basis. 

With the Ravens only one game behind the Bills for the sixth AFC playoff spot, there is still a glimmer of hope. And on top of that, the Ravens have the third easiest remaining schedule in the league.

After the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Week 11, they face the Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt-less Texans, followed by the Lions, Steelers, Browns, Colts and Bengals.

There are several winnable games there and with the team coming back from their bye week as healthy as they've been all year, it's time to rise to the occasion.