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When new Ravens Quarterbacks Coach Jim Caldwell looks at Joe Flacco, he sees a big arm, precise accuracy and exemplary decision-making skills.
The margin is narrow between the level Flacco is currently playing and the next one.
That’s why Caldwell is focusing on honing Flacco’s fundamentals, the “basic rudiments of the game,” Caldwell said.
“Often times, I think people believe that once you get to this level that you shouldn’t work on this aspect of it. But the fact of the matter is, it’s when you need it most,” he said.
Caldwell got a smile on his face when the mere mention of fundamentals arose.
He said he enjoys them and believes that one of the keys of coaching is to be a very, very good fundamental teacher.
Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron called Caldwell, “one of the best quarterbacks coaches over the years at teaching fundamentals that translate to the game and allow quarterbacks to maximize their play.”
Caldwell’s former pupil, Indianapolis Colts great Peyton Manning, was the first-overall pick in 1998 and widely-regarded as special as soon as he entered the NFL. But he and Caldwell continued to perfect everything Manning did, and he grew into one of the NFL’s best mechanics with his footwork and fast release.
The small changes can make a big difference.
“Everything is so intricate, the windows are so small, the timing is so important,” Caldwell said. “Timing and accuracy is key. Working with fundamentals to make sure those areas continue to improve is vital.”
Caldwell is specifically versed in helping quarterbacks such as Flacco.
Flacco stands in at 6-foot-6, making him one of the tallest quarterbacks in the NFL. While that helps him see the field in the pocket, his long wingspan and legs also present a challenge because they can more easily get out of whack.
Three previous quarterbacks that Caldwellhas worked with in the NFL are Brad Johnson (6-foot-5), Manning (6-5), Jim Sorgi (6-5), Curtis Painter (6-4) and Dan Orlovsky (6-5).
“A great majority of the guys I’ve worked with have been big guys,” Caldwell said. “Tall guys that have long levers and leverage and wingspan and all those things you deal with. I’ve enjoyed that process and working through the fundamentals.”