Kaepernick set a record for the most rushing yards by quarterback with 181 in a playoff victory over Green Bay. He was superb (a 127.7 passer rating fits the description) Sunday as San Francisco overcame a 17-point deficit against Atlanta in the NFC title game. And he’s only 25.
“He just played great,” Jim said repeatedly while describing Kaepernick’s performance to reporters after Sunday’s title game. “I don’t even know the words to say it . . . just a great performance by the quarterback.”
Jim’s brother also has benefited from great quarterback play. It’s no coincidence that Flacco’s rise coincided with Caldwell’s change in status.
Cameron was fired on Dec. 10. The Ravens were 9-4 and leading the AFC North, which they wound up winning, by two games. Teams in much worse shape wait at least until the regular season ends to start jettisoning coaches. And the move was even more surprising because Baltimore scored 28 points in a loss the day before to Washington. The Ravens’ defense was their biggest problem against the Redskins.
For John to have made such a big in-season move, he and other Ravens decision-makers clearly must have been alarmed about the direction of the offense. Under those circumstances, some would argue John had nothing to lose by shaking up the staff. But the decision could have blown up in his face worse than a botched trick play.
As a head coach, Caldwell, who was in his first season with Baltimore, had led Indianapolis to a Super Bowl. There were no guarantees, however, that Baltimore’s offense would improve under his direction. If the Ravens’ uneven performance on offense continued, John (rightfully) could have been second-guessed by fans and reporters for making such an unconventional move so late in a season.
The outcome? The Ravens have averaged 30 points in their three-game playoff run. Caldwell has called a lot of deep passes, and Flacco — defensive coaches say no NFL quarterback has a stronger arm — has responded with eight touchdown passes and no interceptions. His lowest passer rating during the stretch was 106.2. Flacco’s career rating is 86.3. “And think about this: We’re still getting to know each other,” Caldwell said.
Over the next two weeks, this Super Bowl coaching matchup will be the most scrutinized in the history of the game. And whether it’s called the Brothers Bowl, Bro Bowl or Harbaugh Bowl really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that two of the game’s best coaches reminded us you sometimes have to put yourself on the line to get what you want.
For more by Jason Reid, visit www.washingtonpost.com/reid.