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For a decade, Jim Caldwell coached one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
But while Peyton Manning can be considered the prototype for success at the position, the Ravens’ new quarterbacks coach isn’t trying to make Flacco the next Manning.
He’s trying to make him the best Flacco.
“Everybody’s different,” Caldwell said. “[Flacco] has his own strengths, and what we want to try to do is accentuate those.
“I’m not here to try to make him like any other quarterback in this league, like Peyton Manning or Brad Johnson or the other guys I’ve coached. That’s not my goal. He is who he is. What we want to do is just help him perfect what he does well.”
Caldwell arrived at the Ravens’ training facility on Thursday to get a head start while most other coaches had the week off. He jumped into the playbook, and will dive into breaking down tape of Flacco in the coming weeks.
Considering he hasn’t had much time to study Flacco, Caldwell didn’t have in-depth analysis to offer, or specific areas where he feels Flacco can improve.
However, Caldwell knows what Flacco brings to the table considering he competed against him from the opposing sideline three times during the quarterback’s four-year career.
Indianapolis won the first two meetings, including in the divisional playoffs in 2010. But Flacco got the best of the Colts in the last matchup this past season. He completed 23 of 31 passes (74.2 percent) for 227 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in Week 14.
“We knew he was dangerous because we knew he could make all the throws,” Caldwell said. “He could make all the finesse throws, all the intermediate throws, and under duress. He’s a tough guy to handle.”
Caldwell said he’s seen definite growth in Flacco over the years he has faced him.
Now Flacco’s tasked with becoming a Pro-Bowl caliber signal caller who leads his team to the Super Bowl, something Peyton did twice during Caldwell’s tenure.
It’s a process that takes time, Caldwell said.
“[Quarterback’s] a very difficult position to play in this league,” he said. “It takes years to get yourself to the point where you’re able to really be effective against everything that you see.”
Asked what it takes for a quarterback to be elite, Caldwell had a simple and direct answer: consistency.
“Joe’s been able to show it for four years. He’s continued to get better and lead his team to the playoffs. That’s consistency,” he said.
“Every once in a while you will find a quarterback that will have one outstanding year and that’s it. Every once in a while you’ll find one that has two pretty good years. And that’s it for their entire career. The individuals that can string them back to back to back to back and continue, that’s what you look for in terms of consistency and performing at a very high level.”
Manning went to the Pro Bowl nine straight years from 2002 to 2010. The Colts were in the playoffs all nine of those years as well.
But Caldwell deflected acclaim for that, saying he’ll never take credit for what a player has accomplished.
“For the years that I coached him, I’m not certain that I was good for him,” he said with a grin. “But I’m certain I wasn’t bad for him.”