Two days later — It’s Flacco’s team now…but is he handling it the right way?

November 15, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Two days later — It’s Flacco’s team now…but is he handling it the right way?

For the better part of a year or more, fans of the Ravens have been clamoring for Joe Flacco to take over the offense.  You’ve heard the comments – maybe even made them yourself at some point in Flacco’s young career – “come on Cam, give Joe the keys and let him drive the offense” or “If Joe can’t call his own plays and run the offense after four years in the league, something’s wrong”.

The blame has been placed squarely on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, whom many believed was stunting Flacco’s growth as a young quarterback by not “turning him loose.”

In an interesting twist two Sundays ago in Pittsburgh, FLACCO (not Cameron) guided the team down the field in the game’s waning moments and completed 11 of 13 passes on the final drive.  It was FLACCO (not Cameron) who found Torrey Smith in the corner of the end zone with eight seconds left to give the Ravens the improbable win over the Steelers.  Afterwards and in the days following the game, all the talk in town was about “Flacco turning the corner”.

No one mentioned the play call.

Cameron was the forgotten man.

Until this past Sunday, that is, when Ray Rice only touched the ball 13 times in the game and the Ravens went pass-happy in a 22-17 shocker at Seattle.

Suddenly, again, Cam was a bum.

Someone with a discerning eye might be seeing things a bit differently these days as the Ravens offense goes into stumble-and-bumble mode every other week or so.  I’m not sure how YOU see it, but I’m seeing weekly indicators that the Ravens, have, in fact turned over the offense to Joe Flacco.  I’m not making this case to say Cam Cameron is doing a GOOD job or not.  I think the team is 6-3 and in good shape and to that end, the coaches deserve the requisite credit that goes with being three games above .500, bad losses in Jacksonville and Seattle noted.

Cam Cameron has been the offensive coordinator in Baltimore since 2008.  He’s been a lightning rod for sure.  Lots of folks – your’s truly included – have questioned his play-calling.  But it should also be noted that only one offensive coordinator in the entire NFL has coordinated a winning playoff game in each of the last three seasons prior to this one.  That, of course, would be Cam Cameron.

After last season’s disappointing playoff loss in Pittsburgh, both Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti mentioned publicly that year four would be a critical one for Joe Flacco.  They both expected him to “do more”.  Whether or not or Cameron was OK with that wasn’t really an issue.  He better be.  The owner and GM wanted to see their quarterback turned loose.

As I see these nine games to date in 2011, it appears as if Flacco HAS been turned loose.  He’s airing it out.  Through 9 games a year ago, the Ravens were 6-3 and Flacco had put the ball in the air 297 times.  So far this year?  Joe has thrown the ball 361 times, or 64 more times than a year ago – yet the club has the identical record at the 9-game mark this season as they did in 2010.

Granted, the Ravens have more pass catching weapons for Flacco to work with in ’11, but it’s easy to acknowledge that Joe’s getting to do more of what he likes to do, which is throw the football.

Of course, the club has been forced to alter its scheme somewhat to fit more snugly with Joe’s desired formation – the shotgun – but to Cameron’s credit (and Harbaugh’s), they’ve acquiesced to their quarterback and built their game plan around HIM over the last month or so rather than pigeon hole him into playing Cameron’s way.

With the club’s decision to go with the shotgun more often to compliment Joe’s style and wishes, someone has to be (see next page, please)

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18 Comments For This Post

  1. eric s Says:

    joe has never critcized cam unlike some of the wideouts,running backs,and defensive players.most people in this town want cam gone for many different reasons and joe was very unhappy when they fired zorn,so maybe joe and the city of baltimore are on to something.if they would have kept mason and evans wouldnt have been hurt,joes numbers would be much better.how many drops do the ravens have this season?i bet it leads the league.hes thorwing to 2 guys who were playing for the terps last season.boldin is a slot receiver yet cam continues to split him out wide,kurt warner was talking about this on the nfl network a few weeks ago.i’m glad joe is taking control,he has to or he will never be what we all want him to become.if cam thought we could run the ball we would do it,but we cant,look at the numbers.i know people love ray rice but running backs come and go,the guy gets way too much credit.he looks very slow to me this season and he his ego has gotten way to big.look at the numbers willis has put up in denver this season,compare them to ray rice.joe is the future.ray lewis,ed reed,and maybe ray rice,if he wants to much money are the past.

  2. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    It may be Joe’s team, but make no mistake about the amount of control exerted by Cam Cameron! He still is responsible for game planning, play calling, tempo, offensive alignments, etc. By the way, why is it that most other QB’s confer with their OC’s on the sidelines and review photos, etc., but you never see Cameron and Flacco doing that? The fact that the offense still lacks an identity and is still inconsistent is a funtion of coaching, not……….quarterbacking!

  3. vreedy76 Says:

    I understand there will be some adjustment with transferring some of the reigns to your young QB, and I’m OK with that happening… just not in the middle of the season and in the middle of a fight for our division.

    I hope cooler heads prevail here and everyone realizes this might not be the best time to let Joe call plays. All the let Joe play talk stems from a couple of drives where he looked good in the shotgun. I don’t think his whole body of work this season and before warrants giving him the keys just yet, especially not after Sunday. With Joe changing at will, our offensive catlyst sat idle. Down 10 to Seattle is not call for gunslinging IMO.

    Harbaugh needs to grab this thing right now and do what’s best for the team. Reign in Flacco a bit and make him realize #27 is what makes our offense go. Flacco needs playaction to be successful as well as the shotgun.

  4. Ada Orie Says:

    Hey Drew. Thank you for your blog. I love it. I think Joe is making more calls on his own. He looks more confident in the pocket. I also have noticed the offensive line is protecting him a lot better. My hope is people will be more patient with Cam and our team as a whole. A loss is not the end of our season. When we beat the Steelers everyone loved our offense. When we lose people want to fire Cam and bench Joe. The true fans will stick by this team. We have no room for the bandwagon fools. We need to remember there was a time when we could not score touchdowns. We need to stand behind our team and let them figure out what they need to do. They are the professionals and that is their living. I love WNST :-)

  5. Drew's #1 fan Says:

    Drewski, you may be on to something. I’ve always taken Joe Cool’s relaxed, undemonstrative nature as nothing more than pure arrogance and over-confidence. He’s clearly the best qb the Ravens have ever had, but what’s that really saying?? That he’s better that Stoney Case?? HA! Big deal! The qb at Parkville High School is a step-up from some of the scalawags this team has had under center. Flacco needs to take a step back, get off that pedestal and realize something — you’re nowhere near as good as you think you are, chief!! Last year, I remember hearing him on another radio station, arrogantly answering a fan’s question about why he doesn’t look at the digital photos of the opposing defense while on the sideline. He basically said those pics don’t really help that much – that he has a good understating on what the opposition is trying to do. You know, I see Brady, Brees and Manning (when he was healthy – of course) looking at these pics, and I’m pretty da*n sure they have forgotten more about reading defenses than Flacco will ever know!! Simply hilarious!! 52 throws by this lame duck, 54.8% competition pct passing qb is recipe for disaster – and losing. Seriously, 54.8%??? In today’s NFL, where a defender can’t breathe on a WR without being called for illegal conduct?? It’s so sad it’s laughable. Yeah, this cat knows what defenses are doing. I can only imagine what his pct would be if he actually threw the ball down the field, and not dump it off so much. It’s amazing this team is 6-3. Simply amazing. Anyways..keep up the good work, Drew! You’re the best – love what you guys do!! Holler!

  6. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    One other observation: don’t know the significance of this, if any, but, unlike many QB’s in the league, Flacco does not have a wrist band with plays on it! My guess is that he gets the majority of his plays from Cameron via helmet microphone…….

  7. barry Says:

    drew, i’m very upset with the ravens last week. joe is still not ready to take control compleatly. in hurry up situations everyone stands around and looks at joe and he does not get them ready in a hujury up mode.
    just a quick note on baseball; i just saw the o’s new hats, lets forget the past and move on to the future, is there any other team that has a cartoon on is hats or uniform. a cartoon is a JOKE and so are the orioles!!!!!
    barry

  8. Randy Says:

    Maybe Flacco should worry more about being the qb than the offensive coordinator. He misses big plays multiple times a game. Torrey Smith was wide open and Flacco overthrows him. Kyle Boller could have even made that throw. He also missed Pitta wide open in the back of the end zone(before the RICE TD pass)..the same play Tom Brady makes 10 out of 10.

    Drew, you give Flacco way too much credit. I just went to NFL.com to look up Flacco’s qb rating and found him at the the bottom of the page: 75.6 You always point out the Ravens record and say he has taken them to the playoffs every year. No, it is the defense and John Harbaugh’s coaching that has lead this team to the playoffs. Flacco has won very few games for this team with HIS performance, unlike guys like Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Schaub, and even a young guy like Matthew Stafford. Of course they have a good record because they have the best defense in the NFL. But I guess I’m not a good Ravens fan because I don’t love Flacco and live in PA.

  9. Franchise Says:

    Drew,

    After our discussion this morning on your Show and reading your blog this afternoon, I have just one (1) follow-up question:

    Can you name your source at the Owings Mills Complex who confirmed that Flacco was in fact “given the keys to the car” and was audibling out of Cams plays versus Seattle???

    Not sure if it is possible to confirm how many of the run plays called by Cam were checked to pass by Flacco.

    Regards,
    V. Leech

  10. Capem A Says:

    This team has one problem. And that problem is coaching. Cam should not have returned and Zorn should’ve been promoted to OC. Flacco had a great relationship with Zorn and that should’ve been taken into consideration. I like Harbaugh a lot and it is hard to argue with his record here. But, I think he is sometimes a little too much like Andy Reid in that he appears that he would rather lose his way than win someone else’s way. If there is a rift between Flacco and Cameron, then Harbaugh, as the head coach, needs to address both of them (individually) and put an end to it.

  11. Steve Says:

    Funny how a couple of crucial mistakes leads to the talk in town about the play calling, flacco running the offense, etc.

    Really, two kick-off fumbles were the difference in the game. And Flacco overthrew A LOT of open receivers on Sunday. Even with those fumbles….Joe only had to make a few of those throws to pull out a win…

  12. Nick Says:

    Seattle game: Flacco’s fault. Missed many easy, must-convert throws, was innacurate all game. Yes we probably should have run more, but our receivers were actually getting open so Cam looks like a genious if Flacco makes the throws.

    Jacksonville game: Cam’s fault. Didn’t run enough, and when all of our receivers are covered all game then you know our plays are not catching the other team off guard.

  13. Tom Says:

    I don’t think Cam was on the field when David Reid fumbled two balls and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on another special teams play.

    That said, I told my son right before the game started – if Flacco throws the ball 40 times, and we don’t control the clock with a decent ground game, we’re going to make the game closer than it needed to be. Only I didn’t realize at that point – that we’d make Jackson (QB) look so good.

    Not to say Cam shouldn’t be under the microscope, but this was as complete of a team loss if I’ve ever seen.

  14. Dan Says:

    Interesting comments all , but don’t amount to a hill of beans who calls the plays or who’s running the offense . As long as we get good Joe one Sunday and Boller Joe (missing open receivers) the next we can count on another fast playoff exit again this year .
    I wonder if accuracy can be learned ? Dan

  15. matt Says:

    eric mangini just said that when a team hears that they are so much better than another team: “sometimes they just dont prepare as hard for them”

    and he WASNT talking about the ravens

  16. matt Says:

    last statement not about, the seattle game. that was 2 fumbles. but more about how you keep poo-pooing fans for saying the ravens arent preparing as hard for bum teams

  17. Mike T Says:

    People in town like Joe because he’s miles ahead of Boller,Blake,Wright etc and they believe that if Joe came along 5 years sooner you may have won a SB. With that said how can both Philip Rivers and Drew Brees excel under Cam and Joe can’t? Steelers fans are not happy w/Bruce Arians but he’s not providing the pass protection for Ben so go figure.Ravens are nothing more then the Philadelphia Eagles of the AFC North

  18. vreedy76 Says:

    Dan,

    Accuracy is mostly about mechanics and nerves at the pro level and the two are tied together. If a QB is pressing (like when you could being down to an inferior team on the road) the mechanics tend to go out the window and more incomplete passes are likely. The great QBs can settle themselves in pressure situations and remain accurate. Joe has flashes of that, it’s just not consistent at this stage of his career. Some guys are just born with it. Others can develop it through being confident in their team and surroundings, ie the game slows down. Others just never get it and never will. See Kyle Boller, Mark Sanchez, or any Redskins QB.

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