OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Facing significant criticism this week in the wake of the Baltimore Ravens’ 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron pointed the finger in one direction Thursday.
"I’m not naive," an emotional Cameron said. "I knew exactly what happened. I knew why it happened and no one wants to hear any excuses about why it happened. I know where the accountability lies on what happened. I’ve been in it too long, it’s my responsibility to get it fixed. And that’s the good news.
"That’s the important thing. You’re in this business long enough you’re going to get hit in the teeth every now and then. You look it dead in the eye and you get it fixed. I think the important to know is that it wasn’t a fatal blow for this team, and I’m not going to let it be a fatal blow for this offense. It ain’t going to happen, not as long as I’m here."
The Ravens lost the game on a touchdown pass set up by a sack and forced fumble of quarterback Joe Flacco by strong safety Troy Polamalu, who was left unblocked and blindsided Flacco as offensive tackle Michael Oher slid inside to account for outside linebacker James Harrison.
Cameron said it was his fault on the 2nd-and-5 play.
"You’re looking at the guy responsible," Cameron said. "There was a flaw in that protection. We don’t have a protection where 43 comes unblocked. We don’t have a run play where 43 comes unblocked in that game. There are some cases where guys can be unblocked. Not him. There was a flaw there that I did not catch for some reason. In 25 plus years, I’ve never seen that happen.
"It showed up at the worst time it possible could have. It’s my job to catch that flaw and that flaw has been corrected. Now, they aren’t going to get us from the quarterback’s backside. The next time you see a guy unblocked in that protection, it will be where the quarterback is expected to be unblocked."
Cameron was asked why run it all with a lead on 2nd-and-5.
"I think football is way beyond running and throwing," he said. "Let’s say it like it is. It’s executing the run and executing the pass. This is 2010. That’s just the way it is. You call a run, you execute it. You call a pass, you execute it. And you try to keep people…it sounds like they were expecting run there. Next thing you know, hey, all of a sudden, you execute it, and the game is over potentially.
"So, it’s about execution, and that’s the thing we have to remember. Because we all know what happens if that’s a five-yard loss on a run. So, I don’t worry about that. I’ve got tremendous…this is probably where we can move on…the confidence that I have, starting with Joe all the way through this offense, ain’t changing. You can look at it however you want to look at it. We come off that field, we’re going to give our players a chance to have won the game for us. And I trust these guys. Didn’t work out the other night, but it’s going to work out a lot more than it isn’t.”
Will the offense be pared down?
“This time of year, you can’t afford to be carrying anything you don’t need in your offense," Cameron said. "You have an extensive package, an extensive system that you feel good about, that you’ve run for years, but the players have to learn it, and you need to trim it down toward the end of the year. We’d be doing that anyway. But, we all know the other side of that. Now you become predictable. And I’m ok with that, too. The old conservative, predictable. I don’t worry about that, because I understand, and I think our players and our coaches definitely understand, the simplest, most predictable play executed looks unpredictable and imaginative.
"I watched the game last night, and there’s another team that’s taken the same philosophy. Simplify a couple things, and suddenly, they look imaginative and they run the same plays they always run. It comes down to execution. We all understand that, we’re just the men for the job, and we’re going to do everything we can to get it solved and get this thing offensively where it needs to be. I understand the expectations, but I can remind you on this, too, about those expectations: Nobody’s expectations are higher than ours as coaches and players. We understand the expectations, but our expectations are even higher.”
Cameron has taken a lot of heat this week. The offense scored only three points in the final three quarters against Pittsburgh and 96 yards after halftime.
"Absolutely not," Cameron said when asked if the criticism is unfair. "There’s nothing that’s been said that I wouldn’t have already said. You just didn’t get to me first. I mean that sincerely. I would have said all that before anyone else could have said it. That’s the bottom line."
What’s the solution for an underachieving offense?
"I think it’s coaching execution," Cameron said. "Our players have all said to me, the first thing they say because we look at the tape critically is, ‘We have to execute better.’ Well, when you have to execute better that’s not players just executing better. That’s coaching better and coaching guys to execute better. That’s the way this thing works.
"We take a ton of pride here in our ability as coaches to get the most out of every guy whether it’s a rookie all the way to the guys at the back of their career. We take a lot of pride in getting the most out of these guys.
The Ravens are ranked 14th in total offense (341.7 yards), 16th in rushing (108.4) and 15th in passing (233.3).
The Ravens rank 17th in scoring, averaging 21.7 points per game.
"For whatever reason right now, it’s not where we want it to be," Cameron said. "There’s glimpses of it, which leads to we’re too inconsistent. You can’t flash and be inconsistent and think you’re going to score points. To me, that’s the only stat that ultimately matters. We got to take care of the ball. You got to find ways to score points and at the same time not turn it over. The running game is several things that we’ve had the ability to address this week. If you ask any of our guys, they’ll all say they’re all a part of it. There’s nobody pointing fingers at anybody. We’re all a part of it, the guy calling the plays to the guy who runs the ball to the people who block for him, plain and simple. The good news is it was a heckuva blow the other night, but it wasn’t a fatal blow.
"That is what’s important. Now, it’s December. Now, we’re in the fourth quarter of the season, I’m talking offensively, for us to play the way we’re capable of playing and I’m confident with the guys we have and the staff that we have that we can get that done. Monday night will be a challenge. This is a good Houston team, their defense is getting knocked because of their rankings, but look at the offenses they’ve played. This is a good team we’re going against and this is going to be a heckuva challenge for our offense."