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)