It’s finally happened. After five years of increasingly predictable and unimaginative offensive football, the Baltimore Ravens stepped up and gave their fans an early Christmas present by removing Cam Cameron from the Offensive Coordinator’s position. Now maybe the angry phone calls to Baltimore sports talk shows and irate columns by internet bloggers (like mine) will ease up. I’m officially declaring an armistice.
The blogosphere is full of comments over what happened and why. There are indications that an argument ensued on the sidelines between Cameron and John Harbaugh that continued in the locker room after the game. The media are debating who made the decision to pull the plug – Harbaugh or owner Steve Bisciotti.
Long time Baltimore Sun Troll Mike Preston, in a characteristically snarky comment, said Harbaugh put his “big boy pants on” to fire Cameron. Whatever. (Note to Preston: Try getting an interview with Harbaugh any time soon.)
It doesn’t matter who did what. It Had to Happen. Whether it was Harbaugh, fed up with Cam’s arrogance and lame play calling, that went to Ozzie and Steve Bisciotti to sign off on the move, or if it was solely by owner edict, is immaterial at this point.
Some in the local and national media are calling this a panic move, made at the wrong time. A 9-4 team with a management structure built on making careful, deliberate decisions does not do this. I disagree. This wasn’t a panic move and the only thing wrong with it is that it took too long. This is about improving the team and evaluating personnel, not pushing a panic button.
We all know this has long term implications for both the Ravens and Joe Flacco. Joe has been here since 2008 and has clearly hit the ceiling with Cameron as the O.C. Next year he’s an unrestricted free agent and is due for a big pay day. He’ll get it, either with a new contract or with a franchise tag. But after 5 years of watching Joe, the man who will ultimately pay the freight on these things still doesn’t know what value to place on his 28 year old quarterback.
And Steve Bisciotti would never find out with Cameron still calling the offensive shots.
That’s what most important about this change. It’s not about panic; it’s about due diligence.
I’m not saying that Jim Caldwell is a miracle worker or that he will make Flacco into something he’s not, but I believe he will position Joe to succeed in doing what he does best. I believe that he will make the play calling more innovative. I believe he will stick with the no-huddle offense. I believe he will get rid of the lame pass routes. I believe he will give Ray Rice the opportunity to play 4 quarters of football every week. And I believe we’ll see better clock management when the Ravens have the ball.
I’ve beat up on Cameron and the offense pretty good in this column, but let’s not forget that if the Ravens defense doesn’t give up 8 points last Sunday to a rookie, backup quarterback, Cam Cameron is, in all probability, our offensive coordinator this week.
Maybe consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and Washington are blessings in disguise.
This Sunday the Ravens play the rejuvenated Denver Broncos and Jim Caldwell will have the opportunity to coach against the player he helped mold into a three-time league MVP and Hall of Fame lock. Peyton Manning couldn’t visit M&T Bank at a more inopportune time for the Ravens. The defense is littered with banged up bodies. Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs may be cleared, but no one can predict what the level of their play will be. Dannell Ellerbe is probably out again and Ed Reed has been hurt most of the season and playing like it. Haloti Ngata seems to be the only defensive lineman playing at a high level.
How do the Ravens win? By keeping the ball out of Manning’s hands. It’s trite, but the Denver Broncos can’t score if they don’t have the ball. On the other side, Dean Pees is going to have to dial up the blitz packages. The defense cannot give Peyton Manning the time they gave to Charlie Batch two weeks ago.
The line is Ravens +2.5 and I Love a Home Dog, particularly at M&T Bank. I like the Ravens in a close track meet to win and take AFC North by a score of:
Ravens 30, Broncos 28.