SANDY POINT — Instead of unloading a spiral, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco unloaded his emotions as he expressed serious unhappiness about the firing of quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn.
It was a rare display of anger from the stoic quarterback, who’s usually guarded about his feelings. And Flacco said the organization is aware of his stance, adding that he felt like he was under attack because of Zorn’s dismissal.
"I’m not happy about it, they know that I’m not happy about it," Flacco said Saturday during the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park. "It’s not news to them. They know I’m not happy about it, and my feelings aren’t going to change. I’m not going to be happy about it, for a long time.
"This year will be what it is. We’re going to be successful this year. I would have just liked him to be a part of it. He would have liked to be a part of it, and I think it would have been good for him to be a part of it."
Zorn was fired Thursday, and he was essentially replaced by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who will take a more hands-on approach with the quarterbacks with assistance from offensive assistant Craig Ver Steeg.
Following his career-best season with 3,622 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 93.6 passer rating, Flacco said he took the dismissal of Zorn personally.
"I also feel like a little bit like I’m being attacked," Flacco said. "You fire the quarterback coach. Usually when you fire a position coach, it’s because you’re not really happy with how that position did. And when I look back on my season and our season as a team, I mean, we won 13 games.
"I felt like I had a pretty good year and you’re firing the quarterback coach? It’s kind of an attack on me, I feel like. You know, it is what it is. It’s not that big of a deal for me to feel like it."
Flacco lobbied for Zorn to be retained, but his supportive message wasn’t heeded.
Since the Ravens’ playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach John Harbaugh has fired Zorn and offensive line coach John Matsko with Andy Moeller promoted to offensive line coach.
"We’ve talked about this since the end of the season, and we believe this will help improve our offense," Harbaugh said at the time of Zorn being fired. “Cam is noted for his development of quarterbacks, and that includes Joe Flacco and Pro Bowl players like Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. Cam is excited about this change and is looking forward to it.”
Zorn wasn’t regarded as a great fit for the staff because of his unorthodox drills.
He was fired Thursday following a meeting with Harbaugh that lasted several hours.
Privately, Zorn was often described as quirky or odd in terms of his coaching style. He did get along well with Flacco, though.
And there was a disconnect between the former Washington Redskins coach, a West Coast disciple who believes in short, quick passes, and Cameron, a follower of the Don Coryell philosophy built on a physical running game and a vertical passing game.
"I’m disappointed and they know I’m disappointed," Flacco said. "I don’t think it was a good decision, and they know that. I expressed that throughout the whole time it was going on, I expressed how much I didn’t think it would be good for us.
"My opinion isn’t going to change. I think Jim was a great coach, I think he was great for our team. I think he was great for me. That’s how I feel about it."
Flacco denied the existence of communication issues between Zorn and Cameron.
"No, not really," Flacco said. "I think Jim was a great coach."
One potential reason behind Zorn’s departure is Cameron’s situation.
Under heavy scrutiny and criticism last season as the offense slumped from 13th in total offense to 22nd, Cameron will put his personal stamp on everything about the offense this season.
The Ravens are relying heavily on Cameron to turn things around. Another disappointing season would likely cost him his job, so he’s not leaving anything to chance with a quarterbacks coach that he didn’t always see eye to eye with.
Flacco, who has consistently downplayed his past sideline clashes with Cameron, expressed confidence that the offense will turn things around next season under the direction of the former San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator and Miami Dolphins head coach.
Heading into his fourth NFL season, this will be Flacco’s third quarterback coach in the past three years.
"Things will go just great," Flacco said. "We’ve got a bunch of guys who want to win football games and we’re going to win football games. That’s what we do, on a year to year basis. We’d like to win a little bit more than we have the last couple of years, but, hey, that’s how it goes sometimes.
"I guess Cam is going to take more of a role in the quarterback room, he’s always in the quarterback room. He’s going to have his influence. He’s the offensive coordinator. We’re going to do things the way he wants them. And I still wish Jim would have been part of that."
Harbaugh said recently that he’ll take on a greater role this year with the offense after concentrating on defense and special teams during his first three seasons in Baltimore. A few of the top priorities are improving the running game and pass protection and being able to strike deep with Flacco.
"John’s going to be make sure things are ran, that things are going the way he wants them to," Flacco said. "I don’t think he’s going to necessarily have too many opinions about what we should be doing and putting in the game plan as an offense, but I think he’s going to be overseeing everything and making sure that everybody is in tune to the meetings and things like that."