Decision to keep Cameron based on shaky lockout situation looks smart now

July 19, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Last January when the third quarter offensive collapse in Pittsburgh cost the Ravens a chance to host the AFC Championship Game, scores of Baltimore football fans called for the dismissal of Cam Cameron.

I’m by no means a coach-must-go reactionary type, but I was among those who figured it was time for the Ravens to part company with their offensive coordinator and start fresh with a new voice.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the unemployment line for Cameron.

His job was saved by the NFL labor situation.

The Ravens quietly told anyone that would listen that Cameron probably would have been jettisoned had the 2011 season gone as normal off-seasons do, meaning if no lockout would have occurred, Cam would have been pink slipped.  But given the labor strife and the uncertainty of when everyone in the NFL would get back to work, the Ravens made the right call by keeping Cameron on board and avoiding a 5 month void of offensive leadership.

It made sense to me then and it certainly makes more sense now, given that we’re near the end of July and the Ravens haven’t had a single organized practice since early March.

John Harbaugh made that call on Cameron staying on board.

He made that call because – in summary – it would have been too risky to bring on a new offensive coordinator not knowing when that man would actually get to work with his players.

The anti-Cam crowd didn’t get it then and probably still doesn’t get it today, but it was the right way to go about it.  You can’t eliminate the offensive coordinator “just like that” and not have a complete off-season to bring in the new guy and get the players familiar with his style.

Yes, the Ravens enter 2011 with a new defensive coordinator, but the players on that side of the ball are very familiar with Chuck Pagano and he had six weeks of work with his new group prior to the lockout.

Now…it is certainly fair to point out that Cameron could have been dismissed the day after the playoff loss in Pittsburgh. He COULD have been dismissed.  But he wasn’t.

And the Ravens logic at that time, as February turned into March, was that the risk was just too great.

“What if the lockout rolls into August?” a Ravens staffer wondered to me back in the early spring.  ”What then?”

I couldn’t argue with it then and I won’t argue it now.

Keeping Cameron on board was the most logical thing to do, even if I was one of the goofs campaigning for him to go last January.

That said — and you knew this was coming…if the Ravens offense doesn’t improve in 2011, the whole “Cam Must Go!” club will have another membership drive.

And this time, I’m sure, club members will get their way.

But I hope it doesn’t come to that.

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