Less than 24 hours after suffering their second consecutive loss to drop their record to 9-4, the Ravens have fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in his fifth season with the organization.
Former Indianapolis Colts head coach and current Ravens quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell will assume the offensive coordinator duties.
The move comes in a season filled with offensive inconsistency in which the Ravens have averaged 34.0 points per game at home but only 18.1 points per game in seven contests away from M&T Bank Stadium. Despite falling to the Washington Redskins in a 31-28 final in Landover on Sunday, the offensive output marked the Ravens’ best in a road game all season.
In their typical schizophrenic fashion, the Ravens scored three touchdowns in the first half and ran for 186 yards against the NFL’s fourth-best run defense but started the second half with two turnovers and two three-and-outs to keep Washington within striking distance before the Redskins ultimately tied the game in the final minute of regulation and won in overtime.
“My charge – our responsibility as a coaching staff – is to maximize the opportunities for our team to win, and we can still reach all of our goals for this season,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a team statement. “With our coaches and players, the solution is in the building. We are going to make the most of our opportunities going forward, and this change gives us a better possibility to achieve our goals.
“It’s not about fair or unfair, right or wrong. My responsibility is to the whole team and what’s best for them right now. We need a change. Our plan and our goals are to win games, win our division and get to the playoffs.”
Entering the season with heightened expectations in quarterback Joe Flacco’s fifth season at the helm, the Ravens offense has failed to take off in compensating for a defense that’s regressed because of personnel losses in the offseason and several significant injuries during the 2012 season. Baltimore entered Week 14 ranked 19th in total offense, ninth in points per game, 23rd in rush offense, and 15th in passing offense.
Caldwell will now take over as the offensive coordinator as he finishes his first season with the Ravens. Hired in the offseason to be the quarterbacks coach after the position went unfilled last season, the 57-year-old has never held the title of offensive coordinator at any point in his collegiate and NFL coaching career.
He spent three seasons as the head coach in Indianapolis after seven years as the Colts’ quarterbacks coach in which he worked with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Caldwell’s influence was considered instrumental during spring organized team activities and training camp as the Ravens attempted to implement the no-huddle attack as a major part of their offensive philosophy earlier this season, but Baltimore has used the approach far less frequently in recent weeks.
“We have a lot of work to do, and we have the coaches and players in place to achieve our goals this season,” Harbaugh said. “We are working on that right now. I’m excited about where we are and where we are going.”
Cameron was long maligned by critics and often cast as the scapegoat for the team’s offensive struggles. The Ravens’ offensive line has performed inconsistently, wide receivers have struggled to gain separation, and Flacco has thrown nine interceptions and fumbled eight times this season.
A debate had existed for several years over just how much freedom Flacco had to change plays at the line of scrimmage and make adjustments on the fly, with Cameron saying the quarterback could make those choices in contrast to others wondering if the 2008 first-round pick truly had enough control to operate.
Expecting wholesale changes in the offensive system in the final weeks of the season would be unrealistic, but the most notable change could be a renewed commitment to the no-huddle offense. It’s also worth noting Flacco is in the midst of the final year of his rookie contract, and the Ravens will be forced to make difficult decisions in terms of a long-term deal and the potential use of the franchise tag should they be unable to reach an agreement with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta before the start of free agency in March.
A coaching change in the middle of the season is a rare occurrence from the Ravens organization but not completely unprecedented. During the 2006 season in which the Ravens finished a franchise-best 13-3, former head coach Brian Billick fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel following two straight losses that dropped the team’s record to 4-2 and took over play-calling duties for the remainder of the season.
Harbaugh will speak to the media at 4 p.m. for his weekly Monday press conference in Owings Mills.
“Cam is my friend, he taught me a lot about coaching, and he is an outstanding coach,” Harbaugh said. “Personally, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a coach.”
Speculation first began regarding the possibility of the Ravens making a coaching change Monday morning when Dan Patrick reported the possibility of a shakeup on his morning show. The coaching change was first reported by ABC2 in Baltimore.