There’s a couple of simple disconnects in that explanation. The first is that if fans like myself and others can see this as an issue, then why has the head coach not seen it as well? Surely if John Harbaugh saw Cameron’s unwillingness to use the middle of the field as an issue then he’d work with Cameron to change it. We’ve also seen at times (only the most desperate of times) the Ravens have gone to the middle of the field successfully. That suggests, to me at least, that not only are those plays in the playbook, but also that that they’ve been studied and practiced by the team. So if flipping the switch and diversifying the offense actually was a priority for the Ravens, you’d have to imagine they’d have done it by now.
Cam Cameron, as offensive coordinator, is the guy who’s calling the plays, but he’s not developing the game plans on his own, and he’s probably not the guy mandating the offense’s philosophy. That begins at the top, with the head coach.
The Ravens in general seem to have a serious aversion to risk. Look no further than the endless string of 9-routes run by Ravens speedster Torrey Smith. It’s a low risk / high reward proposition. It seems that when the Ravens look deep, Flacco has been charged with throwing the ball out there as far as he can and allowing Smith to run under. Look at the number of times that Flacco misses high when throwing to any receiver. In this era of back shoulder throws and attempts to fit balls into tight windows, it seems that Joe Flacco is operating under the premise of putting a ball where your man will get it or no one will. It appears to have made him a scared quarterback at times, and certainly doesn’t empower him to make the difficult throws if and when the situation (and level of desperation) calls for it.
For those hopeful that this will change with a possible ouster of Cameron, take note, if the Ravens shortcomings are a byproduct of Harbaugh’s philosophies rather than Cameron’s imagination or lack thereof, then it won’t change with a different coordinator installed. For years the Ravens have been a team contented to play to the strengths of field position and their defense. It appears that having a stout defense and playing to their strengths doesn’t entail opening yourself up to a willingness to take risks and to possibly put that defense’s back to the wall on occasion.
Perhaps most disappointing to Ravens fans who are still reading and believe that there might be at least a modicum of truth to what I’ve suggested are the following. First, is that based on his win / loss record there’s no reason for Harbaugh to believe that his philosophy is anything but sound. Harbaugh came from the Andy Reid tree and began his Ravens career by touting the time he spent with Reid and the Eagles as wildly successful. Only one team can win the Super Bowl, and so perhaps getting painfully close every year without ever winning it is a comfortable place for Harbaugh to be. Secondly, as a former special teams coach, Harbaugh is seen (probably unfairly) as neither a master of offense nor defense. Problems on either side of the ball typically have fans clamoring for changes of coordinator. Under those circumstances, Harbaugh’s job security remains intact. I’m not suggesting that John Harbaugh deserves to be fired, but for as long as fans continue to call for Cameron’s head, Harbaugh’s fate isn’t even being considered. That’s’ a pretty comfy place for a coach to be.