With the first half of the regular season closed, I can’t help but look back at just how effective (or ineffective) offenses have been thus far. Aaron Rodgers is on pace to not only break 5,000 passing yards in a single season, vying to be only the third play caller to accomplish that mark, but with his win over the Vikings on Monday, Rodgers extended his single-season NFL record by notching his ninth consecutive game with a passer rating exceeding 110.0 (140.3). So far, Rodgers has an average for the 2011 season of 130.7, a full 9 points higher than Peyton Manning, the former record holder, posted in 2004. Cam Newton is on pace to beat the passing AND rushing yard records for a rookie QB. It truly has become the Year of the Quarterback.
But not every team has had such success. The Washington Redskins have swapped starters in the position twice already. Inconsistency from Joe Flacco, and odd play calling against sub-.500 teams, have analysts and fans alike questioning Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron’s ability to perform functionally as of late. Broncos Head Coach John Fox came under fire just 2 weeks into the season for continuing to play ailing passer Kyle Orton instead of Tim Tebow. Donovan McNabb was replaced with Christian Ponder just a few games into the season.
With so much going on, several teams could be looking to make changes, but at what point do we stop looking at quarterbacks and start looking at coaches and coordinators?
The Cowboys, for instance, can look at the first half of the season as a prime example of poor QB play. Tony Romo, in two straight games, made poor choices that resulted in blown 4th quarter leads and losses. That is clearly on the hands of the Quarterback. Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron can be linked to an upset loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, as he insisted on calling each play on a critical 4th quarter drive instead of allowing Joe Flacco to call plays from a hurry-up offensive package, which cost the Ravens precious clock time, and ultimately a chance at winning.
This is a result of poor coaching.
While a lot of the mistakes players make can be directly linked to execution, sometimes coaching must take the blame. Mike Tomlin’s indecision on a 4th down during the week 9 rematch with the Ravens ultimately cost his team a chance at redemption. Is his job going to be in jeopardy because of that? Not a chance.
Could Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron’s job in Baltimore be at risk? When star running back Ray Rice sees no more than 12 touches a game in the 3 loses the Ravens have this season, I think it might be. Chargers fans will tell you much of what Ravens fans are saying now: Cameron’s play calling is too predictable and lacks focus on the strengths of the playmakers on the field. Dolphins fans would be inclined to agree, seeing as how his only season as head coach in Miami resulted in a 1-15 season, with the lone win being ironically over the Ravens.
If anything is to be learned in the second half of the season, it could be this: The NFL may see a host of new faces coming up from the college ranks.
And I’m not just talking about players.