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Ravens' Caldwell focused on beating former team

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Ravens' Caldwell focused on beating former team

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Jim Caldwell spent 10 years doing his best to help Indianapolis win.

Now Baltimore's offensive coordinator, he's focused beating the Colts.

Caldwell and the Ravens host Indianapolis on Sunday in a first-round playoff game. In a strange twist of fate, Caldwell is going up against his former team. Even quirkier: Caldwell's successor in Indianapolis, Chuck Pagano, was Baltimore's defensive coordinator last year.

``It's ironic to get an opportunity to play against them, but it's going to be a lot of fun,'' Caldwell said Thursday. ``Chuck probably feels the same way on the other side over there.''

Hired by the Colts in 2002 to be their quarterbacks coach, Caldwell was ultimately promoted to head coach in 2009. He was dismissed last year after a dismal 2-14 season and signed by the Ravens in February to coach the quarterbacks. On Dec. 10, he replaced fired Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator and has since been calling the shots for Baltimore's offense.

Caldwell, 57, likes his current role, but still longs to be an NFL head coach.

``Anybody in this business would certainly like to get to the point where they reach the top of their profession,'' he said. ``They'd love to have an opportunity to be a head coach, and I'm no different.''

But the task at hand is to help Baltimore (10-6) beat the Colts (11-5).

``I typically don't think too far beyond this next ball game,'' Caldwell said. ``Tomorrow is not even promised to me. I really don't think that far ahead. I'm not looking off, gazing into the sunrise or something of that nature. I'm trying to make certain that I'm doing my job and getting our guys ready to go out and play. We've got a real chore ahead of us.''

He holds no ill will toward the Colts. During a coaching career that began in 1977, Caldwell never spent time in one place longer than Indianapolis.

``You don't spend 10 years in a place and walk away from it and not have (feelings) toward some of the guys you coached,'' he said. ``Ten years in this profession is an eternity. Three years is a long time for a coach. So yeah, it's a bit different in that regard. But will it make any difference in how we go about the game, how we call the game, how we practice and prepare for the game? Absolutely not.''

Translation: Forget the old ties, Indy, this weekend is all about Baltimore.

``I went to the University of Iowa and when I was at Northwestern we played against my alma mater,'' Caldwell recalled. ``At that point in time, all I was concentrating on was doing my job and trying to get a victory. It will be no different in this game.''

Caldwell's run in Indianapolis began with a berth in the Super Bowl and ended with a miserable season in which standout quarterback Peyton Manning hurt his neck and was unable to perform. Caldwell has no regrets about what happened last year, even though a myriad of injuries handcuffed his effort to win.

``For the most part, I believe the good Lord has a plan for us, and often times it's not as picturesque as we might like it,'' Caldwell said. ``It might not unfold as we might have planned, but it unfolded in the way he wanted it, and I'm satisfied with that. Coming here was a blessing me, and I'm certainly glad to be here.''

This is his first job as an offensive coordinator, and the Colts still don't quite have a grip on his tendencies.

``I think everybody is different as a coordinator. We're just trying to see what Jim's trying to do with the offense,'' Indianapolis defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. ``I know that he took it over when Cam had it. There are some similarities of course, because he can't just go in there and scratch it across the board. He's doing a good job.''

Some of the Ravens feel that way, too.

``I think he'd be a guy you would consider to be a player's coach,'' wide receiver Torrey Smith said. ``I have a lot of respect for him because he gets the point across without being aggressive or disrespectful. He's the kind of guy you'd want to play for because he respects you as a man first. And he knows what he's doing.''

Smith believes Caldwell deserves another chance to be a head coach.

``He would be a guy people would rally around. He understands the game, on both sides of the ball,'' Smith said. ``I think he would be a great head coach. You can tell by the way he communicates with folks. He's been a head coach before, and maybe he'll get another shot down the road. But as long as he doesn't leave before we're done.''

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AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

While the Ravens roster will likely remain mostly together for the 2020 regular season, it appears the coaching staff will stay entirely intact, too. 

After both coordinators, Greg Roman and Don “Wink” Martindale, had interviews with the Browns and Giants, respectively, those jobs were filled by Kevin Stefanski and Joe Judge. 

And more recently, quarterbacks coach James Urban and tight ends coach Bobby Engram were requested for interviews by the Eagles. Harbaugh said both Engram and Urban pulled out of the running and weren’t interested.

“It looks like our staff is going to stay together,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I can tell you that. I’m not saying anything couldn’t happen; there are always things brewing for a certain period of time.”

The Ravens have every offensive starter from the divisional playoff game under contract for next season, and now appear to have the offensive coordinator and all of the position coaches back on-board for another run too. The Ravens set a franchise record with 531 points, led by Lamar Jackson.

Things are still fluid, as a job opportunity for anyone on the staff can pop up out of the blue. But for now, the Ravens look like they’ll run the entire operation back for another go at a Super Bowl.

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John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson's playoff performance

John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson's playoff performance

Coach John Harbaugh, just six days after his team’s disappointing 28-12 loss to the Titans in the AFC playoffs, has already had to defend his quarterback.

Faced with some criticism after Jackson finished 31-of-59 passing, and three total turnovers, Harbaugh mentioned how far Jackson has come in the last year — which also ended in an early playoff loss at home.

“It’s really interesting to look at Lamar Jackson, because look at the progress he made in the last year,” Harbaugh said Friday. “Because the same question, I think you might have asked it last year, how is he going to get better going forward? And he did a good job, right? He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than Joe Burrow. So, he has a pretty good head start right now.”

Jackson is now 0-2 in the playoffs with a 19-3 regular season record. 



He’s likely the MVP this season after he passed for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 yards, setting the single-season rushing record for a quarterback along the way. He led the NFL in passing touchdowns and carried the most prolific offense in the league to a league-best 14-2. 

Harbaugh isn’t worried that his quarterback, who is just 23-years-old, hasn’t found his playoff success yet.

“The Manning brothers combined to, they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one,” Harbaugh explained. (Joe) Montana, (Steve) Young and (Brett) Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season, (Drew) Brees and (Troy) Aikman, until their fourth season, and (Aaron) Rodgers until his fifth season.”

After the season ended, Harbaugh added that Jackson went to his office to discuss the offseason and what he needed to do to improve. 

While Harbaugh and the offensive coaching staff had a plan for Jackson to improve, Jackson “nailed” each and every single critique that the coaches had laid out for him.

“I’m really confident in Lamar and his understanding the things he needs to do to get better, and that he’s going to work really hard to keep building himself up as a player,” Harbaugh said.

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