Caldwell play calling crucial for success

Caldwell play calling crucial for success
September 18, 2013, 7:00 am
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Clifton Brown breaks down Ravens vs. Texans

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens on Wednesday, as they resume practice for Sunday’s home game against the Texans.

Two-minute topic: How crucial is coordinator Jim Caldwell’s play calling to the Ravens’ success?

OWINGS MILLS – The Ravens need run-pass balance to perform at their best offensively. They can’t afford to get too pass happy. Not with Joe Flacco still building chemistry with new receivers. Not with production from the tight end position still a huge question mark. Not when the Ravens have two quality running backs like Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

After Flacco threw a career-high 62 passes against the Broncos, the Ravens returned to a better blueprint against the Browns. Flacco attempted 33 passes, while there were 32 rushing attempts between Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Afterward, head coach John Harbaugh praised the play calling of Caldwell, who stuck with the running game even after the Ravens were shutout in the first half.

“Coach Caldwell is a calming presence and that’s a plus,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve got confidence in Joe, we’ve got a veteran offensive line that can kind of keep everybody understanding that everything is not going to happen right away, and you can’t panic.”

Caldwell’s play calling is just part of the equation. Execution is the most important part. The running game won’t click without solid blocking from the offensive line. Pierce (19 carries, 57 yards) had a strong second half, but he did a lot on his own, breaking tackles for extra yards.

However, Caldwell has shown an ability to adapt since taking over as coordinator last December. In the second half of last season’s AFC Championship game, he opened up the offense and turned Flacco loose against the Patriots. After the Ravens strayed from the running game in Denver in Week 1, Caldwell called a much different game against the Browns.

The Ravens are still evolving offensively, and facing unbeaten Houston will be another challenge, especially with Rice (hip flexor) questionable. The Ravens and Caldwell will need to find something that clicks. It will likely take more than 14 points to beat the Texans.

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