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Ravens' dramatic switch of offensive coordinators has paid off

SUPER BOWL NOTES

Jim Caldwell took over for Cam Cameron on Dec. 10 and Baltimore's offensive production has increased by more than 50 yards a game since. Even Cameron has called the decision 'brilliant.'

January 31, 2013|By Sam Farmer
  • The Baltimore Ravens hired Jim Caldwell to replace Cam Cameron as the team's offensive coordinator on Dec. 10. Since then the team has seen an improvement in its offensive production.
The Baltimore Ravens hired Jim Caldwell to replace Cam Cameron as the team's… (Patrick Semansky / Associated…)

NEW ORLEANS — The San Francisco 49ers made a dramatic move with the midseason quarterback switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.

But the Baltimore Ravens made an equally drastic adjustment, changing offensive coordinators from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell on Dec. 10.

The switch to Caldwell, the former Indianapolis coach, is among the bigger story lines of Super Bowl XLVII.

"[Coach] John Harbaugh and I were sounding boards for each other," Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said of the coordinator change. "This is something that was talked about for a number of weeks.

"I did have the background that I went through with [former Ravens coach] Brian Billick when he let Jim Fassel go. So, I knew what questions to ask and what we needed to do. It's always the unintended consequences that we try to look after to make sure we're making a good decision."

The Ravens were 9-4 when Cameron was dismissed, their offense averaging 344.4 yards per game. Under Caldwell, the Ravens have averaged 406.2 yards, including 424.7 in the playoffs.

"It was shocking at the time," Baltimore tight end Dennis Pitta said. "Because of the time when it happened, Week 13, you don't expect a change in offensive coordinators. You know, you are sitting with a playoff on the horizon. It was a bold move, but it was certainly the right decision. Jim Caldwell is a tremendous football coach and has been a great offensive coordinator for us."

Even Cameron called the decision "a brilliant move," when reached by the New York Times last week at his home in Baltimore. "Everyone on the team took a look in the mirror after that," he told the newspaper.

Asked whether he would classify the move as "bold," Harbaugh said: "I don't know. It was a move that was the best move at the time, we felt. That's what we said at the time. ... It was an important move. But, Joe [Flacco] made some bold throws, Anquan [Boldin] made bold catches. The defense made bold plays. There were bold hits. Look at [safety] Bernard Pollard, for instance. There were bold coverage plays on special teams. There were bold kicks.

"To me, that's the boldness of football. That's what really matters, and the credit goes to the players."

Head check

The NFL is likely to have unaffiliated neurological consultants on the sidelines of games next season to evaluate players who might have suffered head injuries, according to Jeff Pash, the league's general counsel.

Speaking at a Super Bowl news conference Thursday, Pash said the doctors would not be paid by the clubs or hired as team physicians. More than one neurologist could be assigned to a team, he said, allowing them to divide duties in the 16 games.

Gut check

Justin Tucker, rookie kicker for the Ravens, said that since childhood he has vividly envisioned kicking the winning field goal in a Super Bowl.

"Just thinking about it now, you almost get goose bumps thinking about it," he said. "I can tell you, every day when I would go out to the practice fields at Westlake High School [in Austin, Texas] with my dad, we always ended on a game-winning field goal.

"I always end my warmup routine on game days with a 48-yarder from the right hash. That's the kick [New England's Adam] Vinatieri made in the Superdome in [2002]. This place right here is where he cemented himself as a Hall of Fame-caliber kicker, which is really a hard thing to do."

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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