Say good-bye to the bad guy. Say good-bye to the boogieman.
On Monday the Ravens said good-bye to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. And while he was seemingly in the minds of most fans the answer to all that ailed the team, he was also by most accounts a good man.
A good man lost his job, and for many, the fans of the team, the mob that had assembled and called routinely for his head for three years running, that can be seen as cause for celebration. We don’t celebrate lightly. A good man lost his job and that’s never an instance in which we should revel. This however is sports, and such celebrations are not only par for the course, but in knowing that Cameron will bounce back, will land on his feet, will find an opportunity elsewhere before very long, we can safely (and in good conscience) celebrate the fact hat he’ll no longer be a pox on our house.
Inside the Castle however, the residents have no such luxury. While the departure of Cameron is being sold as for the greater good, and while the move was made in hopes that in order to improve, in order to fix what ailed the Ravens there would have to be a casualty…at least one, Cameron takes with him the gigantic target that he’s carried for at least the last 3 seasons.
So now, the angry faction of Ravens fans who feel that winning is their birthright will have to find somewhere else to direct their anger and frustration. It’s all but certain that while Cameron was a part (probably a big part) of the “struggles” of a 9-4 team on their way to a 5th straight trip to the playoffs, it’s at least equally certain that he wasn’t the only problem. He however has been cast aside in the name of progress and improvement, and if that progress and improvement isn’t forthcoming…and soon…the angry (by nature) fans will find another target for their anger.
Those who are left behind to pick up the pieces had better do so quickly, or they might be the next to carry the target. And there’s no shortage of candidates who should be feeling the pressure to insure that it’s not them.
If Cameron was the most criticized member of this Ravens organization, the quarterback, Joe Flacco isn’t far behind. Flacco, once touted as the offensive savior of this team, has failed to progress at the pace that many had hoped or expected. Now he stands to cash a much more substantial check from the team, and it appears that the move made to fire Cameron was, as much as anything else, an attempt to quickly assess what they have in their franchise QB before they decide to pay him franchise money.
Clearly the Ravens are in no position to part company with Flacco, as much as some fans might suggest it, but big decisions will have to be made nonetheless. And with each passing game, regardless of his performance, Flacco’s leverage over the team seems to increase.
While most, even those in the quarterback’s own camp would probably concede that he’s not worth $16+ million per season, that’s essentially what he’ll cost if a happy medium can’t be found. And from the QB’s perspective, having remained upright and healthy for the first 4, going on 5 years of his career, gambling on himself to remain upright and healthy for another 16 games under the franchise tag doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. If it indeed comes to that, and Flacco is left to wear the franchise tag in 2013 at a price tag of over $16 million, a second season under the tag would net him closer to $20 million. And a 3rd season after that under the tag becomes almost so preclusive from a team standpoint that allowing Flacco into free agency would likely be the team’s “only” choice. So at the very least Flacco is all but guaranteed 2 years at $37 million or so, with free agency to follow after 2014.