So the pressure to improve is certainly falling on the QB at this point, but we can guess that as a professional that’s always been there. Whether Flacco “proves” himself to be elite in the remainder of 2012 or in 2013, or not, the Ravens are left with little choice but to pay him as such or to take their chances with the likes of Michael Vick or Alex Smith. So how much pressure Flacco ultimately feels or how much it impacts him will be debatable, but without immediate improvement he is at least positioned to absorb the lion’s share of the criticism previously affixed to the offensive coordinator.
We’ll never truly know how much of the responsibility for the shortcomings of the Ravens offense is attributable to Cameron and how much is attributable to John Harbaugh, just like we’ll never truly know how much of the decision to part company with Cameron was Harbaugh’s and how much of it came from up high.
Clearly based on the resume he’s amassed in the last 4+ seasons, any discussion of sacrificing Harbaugh instead of Cameron would have been silly. However as we look at the issues the offense has endured, Harbaugh is to some degree culpable at least.
If everyone in town and in the media could see the shortcomings of the offense, then Harbaugh should have seen them too. Why it is that he decided not to address them or why he was unable to address them successfully is anyone’s guess. Whether he was in some way responsible for creating them is a judgment that many will be making as things move forward.
I’ve argued for weeks, months in fact, that the problems I saw with the Ravens offense seemed to be much more based on philosophy than on scheme or play calling. The Ravens seemed to be too comfortable sitting on small leads, and unwilling to “open up the playbook” until desperation time set in. If those plays were in the playbook and practiced but simply not being called until too late it would seem that fixing the issues would have been easy. For whatever reason (probably because they continued to win) the Ravens never did “fix” them.
If it was a philosophical issue, there seemed little reason to address it because it’s been working. As we’ve learned though this year sometimes sitting on narrow leads too comfortably allows teams to turn the tables too late in the game to elicit your desperate and effective response. Losses to the Eagles, Steelers and Redskins all occurred in games that the Ravens controlled throughout, and games that got away too late to get them back.
As a former special teams coordinator, Harbaugh seems to enjoy a certain luxury, with the fans and media at least. It’s wholly unfair and off base, but because we see him as a master of neither offense nor defense, our criticisms of either side of the ball default immediately to the coordinators and bypass the head coach. Whether this is Harbaugh’s fault or not, someone else has paid the price. We’ll see if the philosophy changes going forward. If it doesn’t we can certainly lay it at the feet of the head coach. If it does we can only guess whether it was Cameron’s issue all along or whether the shakeup at the castle compelled a necessary change in Harbaugh’s philosophy.
Typically “the Wizard” is above reproach. He has a long enough track record to make criticism of him a risky proposition. Still, it’s hard to argue that here isn’t at the least a philosophical disconnect between the guy who is buying the proverbial groceries and the guys who are charged with preparing the meal.