Is Jim Caldwell the right choice for Eagles OC vacancy?


After the (expected) firing of offensive coordinator Mike Groh, many names were thrown around as potential replacements. However, all of that was pure speculation.

Then Tim McManus of ESPN gave two concrete names:

With Kevin O’Connell set to join Sean McVay in Los Angeles, that leaves Jim Caldwell as the leading candidate.

Caldwell, 64 (65 on the 16th), has been in the NFL since 2001. He was listed as the Dolphins’ assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for 2019 but took a leave of absence prior to the season, yet served as a consultant to the team. Prior to the NFL, Caldwell started his coaching career in 1977 as a graduate assistant at Iowa.

Offensive ranks

In 2009 and 2010 as the Colts’ head coach, Caldwell had the second and first ranked passing offense respectively. It should be noted that he did have Peyton Manning as quarterback for those two seasons. His rushing offense was close to last in both of those years, but during his final year in Indianapolis, with Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins, and Eagles Twitter favorite Dan Orlovsky at quarterback, the passing offense ranked 27th and the entire offense ranked 30th.

In his two years as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013, the Ravens’ offense ranked 16th and 29th respectively.

When he was the head coach of the Lions, the offense never reached elite status, ranking 19th, 20th, 21st, and 13th in total yards. However, the passing ranks were 12th, 9th, 11th, and 6th. Staying true to his philosophy, the rushing attack ranked close to last in all four years.

Lead and develop

Caldwell was the first coach in Lions’ history to end his tenure with a winning record since 1972. They went to the playoffs twice in his four years. Playoffs in multiple years under a Lions’ head coach hadn’t happened since the 1997-199 Bobby Ross tenure.

His ability to lead is evident, as is his ability to develop quarterbacks. He was with the Colts from 2002 through 2011 as either the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach or the head coach. The quarterback during that time?  Peyton Manning.

The 2012 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens had Jim Caldwell as their offensive coordinator. He helped Joe Flacco trick the organization into signing him to a six year deal worth $120.6 million after that Super Bowl.  Flacco had back to back years of career high passing yards and yards per game with Caldwell.  The veteran’s passer rating has never hit 90 since Caldwell left the Ravens and his QBR has never gone above 56.3.

17,292. That’s the amount of yards Matthew Stafford put up with Caldwell as head coach, fourth in the league during 2014-2017.  He also threw 107 touchdowns, eighth in the league, and only 45 interceptions. His 1.91 interception percentage is third among QBs during that span with over 2,000 passing attempts. However, he was sacked 173 times during that same span, the most of any quarterback in that window.

Someone who worked closely with Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco (when he was good), and Matthew Stafford could do wonders for Carson Wentz’s development.

High praise

Former Colts and Broncos quarterback, and future hall of famer, Peyton Manning was asked about his former coach prior to Caldwell’s hiring in Detroit. You could say the following quote gives some high praise to Caldwell:

“Jim Caldwell has meant a great deal to me in my career, I felt like once he got to Indianapolis and became my quarterbacks coach, that my game really improved. It took a step up, and I thought Jim had a great deal to do with that.

“He and I had a set routine that we tried to perform every day in the meeting room, on the practice field, in different drills. And from 2003 to 2008, when he was the quarterbacks coach, I was playing at a high level.”

That last sentence should mean a lot to you. Peyton Manning says he was playing at a high level with Caldwell as his coach. If Caldwell can have a quarterback perform at a Hall of Fame level, this should get Carson Wentz excited.

Jim Caldwell brings the knowledge and loads of experience to the table. As a former head coach, he knows just how much work goes into the ins and outs of a game plan. Despite his lack of success with the running game, he wouldn’t have to worry about that in Philadelphia. With Duce Staley manning the rush attack, Caldwell would be free to develop Wentz to elite status.

However, does having yet another former head coach on the staff spell doom for Doug Pederson in the future? There were reports that Schwartz was brought in as an insurance plan in case Pederson didn’t work out. Pederson obviously did work out, and Schwartz seems unhappy about his position, according to those reports.

While this is all speculation, I don’t believe this to be true. Caldwell being a former head coach holds no weight in regards to Pederson’s future. At this point in his career, I doubt Caldwell is a head coach again.

However, there is concern over Caldwell’s age. He had to take a leave of absence this season instead of joining the Dolphins as their quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach. Would it be beneficial to Wentz to bring in a coach that may only have a few years left in the coaching tank? If Wentz has another coordinator after Caldwell, it would be his fourth in his career, this doesn’t usually bode well for success. If a young coach comes in to be quarterbacks coach (Josh McCown?) then this could be a perfect scenario.

Should Doug Pederson choose Jim Caldwell as his offensive coordinator, Eagles fans should be excited for the future development of Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense.

Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson