The most noteworthy aspect of the change of coordinators may well be Caldwell’s relationship with Flacco, whom his teammates have taken to calling “The General.”
“What I see is, I see two guys who really work well together,” said Harbaugh. “They’ve got temperaments that are very similar. Jim is a great football coach. He is a no-nonsense coach. He gets right to it. Joe appreciates that. Joe is kind of thinking ‘Tell it to me straight and let’s move.’ Those guys both think alike, so I think that works well.”
Flacco wasn’t exactly shackled before the change — he threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns against the Patriots in their September meeting and was well on the way to a career yardage year (3,817) when Caldwell took over. But their comfortable familiarity has put him at ease.
“Our relationship has been great all year,” Flacco said. “It was awesome to have him in the room as a quarterbacks coach and have the talks and being around each other a lot so you can have some honest conversations and grow your relationship.”
Though he’s been playing behind an offensive line that was rearranged for the postseason around ironman center Matt Birk, Flacco has been on fire in the playoffs, throwing for 282 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts and 331 and three against the Broncos, including the 70-yarder to Jacoby Jones that saved the season. “I think Joe is able to make any throw on the field,” reckoned receiver Anquan Boldin. “Talk about making big-time throws. The deep ball, he does it all.”
With Rice averaging just under 100 yards in the last two games, that makes for a balance that could tip the scales in Baltimore’s direction after last year’s deflating disappointment. “Who knows what it’s going to take to win on Sunday?” The General mused. “But our mind-set is, it’s going to take our best — and we’re ready to go give it.”
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.