Tag Archive | "Cam Cameron"

A YEAR LATER: What really happened with Cam Cameron firing?

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A YEAR LATER: What really happened with Cam Cameron firing?

Posted on 10 December 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

On December 10, 2012, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron. Eight weeks later, Joe Flacco led a winning offense to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. What really happened? What caused that fateful decision?

Do you want to know everything?

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 7 here on all things Joe Flacco and why the Baltimore Ravens fell in love with him:

 

15. Dancing on The Edge of Chaos?

“People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. That’s not to say anybody can’t do the job or didn’t do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here – doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe that right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”
John Harbaugh (December 10, 2012)

 

THE SHORT RIDE HOME FROM Fed Ex Field after an excruciating loss was particularly disturbing for John Harbaugh. On the bus he started thinking about where the Baltimore Ravens would be in the coming weeks if things remained the same and this team continued to perform inconsistently. He’d been thinking about the end of this season since the end of last season. Harbaugh was a big picture guy with all of his assistant coaches. It’s the NFL – Not For Long. Change is inevitable.

But when exactly is the right time to make a glacial movement in philosophy? When, exactly, do you decide to decide to make a change in personnel? And how do you know if it’s the right decision?

“I was on the bus back from the Redskins game, and I just did it,” Harbaugh said. “I just decided this is what we needed to do.”

Twelve hours later, head coach John Harbaugh brought his longtime friend, former boss and current offensive coordinator Cam Cameron into his office in Owings Mills and fired him. Later in the afternoon, Harbaugh did his usual Monday press conference.

“We’ve replaced Cam [Cameron] with Jim Caldwell,” he began. “It’s been something that we went through last night and this morning and had a conversation with Cam real early this morning and then with Jim. And I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last, almost, five years as our offensive coordinator. The record proves that. When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense for the last four years – the games that have been won, the points that have been scored, and really, by every measurement – Cam is a very good football coach. He is a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously, it’s a difficult thing, personally, to do something and make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years, and Cam has been right in there battling. He has been a member of this team, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished here. At this time, the move is made to give us a chance to be the best that we can be. And that’s not saying anybody can’t do it, but it’s just an opportunity to try to get this thing going and become the best offense and the best team we can be, and we feel like it’s what is best for the team at this time. And, that’s why we made the move. There’s no more to it than that. We’ll go forward with that. So, Jim will take over. That started this morning. He’s working on the game plan with the rest of the staff. The rest of the staff is on board, and we’ll go to work like we always do and see how it plays out.”

In trying to piece together the story of how it had gotten to this point, this desperate place where Harbaugh felt he had no other option but to fire Cameron on the bus ride home from Fed Ex Field in Week 14 of the season, you have to go back to the biggest of big picture philosophies in Owings Mills.

“What gives us the best chance to win the Super Bowl?”

Much like when Bisciotti fired Billick nearly five years earlier, or when Billick fired his pal and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during a bye week in 2006, this was as much about the team as it was any one or two issues, disagreements, or personal relationships.

The truth? It was hard to find anyone in the building who truly trusted, fully understood or had an ideal two-way communication with Cam Cameron. Relationships change. People change. But sometimes philosophies remain stagnant and grow stale.

Since Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pre-dates Harbaugh, it begins with a vision even larger

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No Rest for the Wizard

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No Rest for the Wizard

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

Obviously when setting the tone for the Ravens’ off-season, everything takes a back seat to resolving the Joe Flacco contract situation. The importance thereof is only magnified by the realization that there are so many questions still to be answered, so many decisions still to be made; but until the Ravens know for sure what their quarterback’s financial future may hold, everything else is essentially on hold. That however doesn’t diminish the fact that there are important decisions outside the QB position to be made before the Ravens begin their title defense and prepare for the 2013 campaign.

Conceding that the importance of Flacco’s deal is paramount to everything else, here are the next 5 major points of consideration for the Ravens to deal with this off-season in order to have hopes of a 6th straight post-season trip.

 

#1 – Suring Up the Left Tackle Situation

 

If Flacco was the biggest difference maker for the Ravens in the playoffs, then further investigation is merited in determining what helped him turn his season, and his reputation, around. For my money, it began with the offensive line. After a season in the proverbial “dog house” Bryant McKinnie was finally given a chance to show and prove, and from there the offense never seemed to look back.

 

In the lead up to the Broncos game, no one seemed to have any concerns about the Denver secondary. Hindsight might suggest that to have been a result of the constant quarterback pressure the Broncos were able to count on from Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Without that pressure however, the Ravens found and readily exploited cracks in the Broncos secondary that no one seemed to know were there in the first place.

 

McKinnie and the Ravens began this season on unceremonious terms, and pretty much kept things that way until the end. Having proven his value, albeit over a 4-game stretch, there’s still no real assurance that the Ravens will or should trust McKinneie enough to agree to terms on a multi-year deal. On the other side of that coin, there’s no good reason to think McKinnie will feel any special brand of loyalty to the Ravens when others come calling on the open market.

 

What’s undeniable about the whole episode is that by replacing Michael Oher with McKinnie at LT, the Ravens were able to move Oher to his natural RT position where he represented an improvement over Kelechi Osemele. Osemele then moved to the LG position that the Ravens struggled to find an answer for all season too. This three-fold improvement made the Ravens line exponentially better; and no matter how they address LT going forward, any “solution” involving moving Oher and Osemele back to the positions they played for the majority of 2012 has to be considered multiple steps backward.

 

#2 – Replacing Jim Caldwell

 

Continuing with the theme of what was different for the Ravens offense at the end, the departure of Cam Cameron and the elevation of Jim Caldwell to the offensive coordinator position would seem to be the other major factor. The performance of Caldwell’s offense has been celebrated widely within the fan base, and certainly hasn’t been lost on the league at large either.

 

In an off-season where everyone seems dissatisfied with the impact of the Rooney Rule and the lack of minority hires made in filling head coaching vacancies, Caldwell will all but surely be a hot head coaching candidate at the end of next season. Even getting to the Super Bowl again, and therefore delaying the process for teams interested in Caldwell might not be enough to slow his roll.

 

In what looks to be a lame duck season for Caldwell with the Ravens, it’s important to figure out if the next guy in line is someone already on staff, or how the team can look to groom a next guy in line, potentially by hiring him as a quarterback coach / OC in waiting.

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Newsome: Harbaugh wasn’t pushed to fire Cameron

Posted on 25 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens overcoming their December struggles to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years, much discussion has naturally reflected on the decision to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Dec. 10.

Needless to say, the move has worked beautifully for the Baltimore offense as Cameron himself even admitted it was a “brilliant” move in an interview with the New York Times, but general manager Ozzie Newsome was asked Friday how involved he and owner Steve Bisciotti were in the decision to part ways with the coordinator. Newsome acknowledged that he and Harbaugh interacted a great deal in discussing the merits and drawbacks of making such a change so late in the season, but the longtime general manager made it clear neither he nor Bisciotti pushed Harbaugh to fire Cameron.

Newsome emphatically denied that notion, repeating the word no multiple times as he shook his head.

“That wouldn’t be fair to John,” Newsome said. “John has to stand before his coaching staff and his players. If at any one point do they ever think that he is overly influenced by Steve and I, then he loses his staff and his players. It has to be him.”

According to Newsome, he and Harbaugh discussed the possibility of making the change on the ride home following the Ravens’ 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9.

Harbaugh came to Newsome with the final verdict to fire Cameron on Monday morning.

“When he walked in my office and told me that he was going to make that decision, he had a peace about himself,” Newsome said.

Of course, WNST.net’s Drew Forrester reported a different version of the events leading up to Cameron’s departure HERE.

 

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Flacco, Ravens prove to be AFC’s best when it really mattered

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Flacco, Ravens prove to be AFC’s best when it really mattered

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Luke Jones

We spent the better part of five seasons acknowledging the accomplishments of Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, but the focus would inevitably revert to what they hadn’t done in the John Harbaugh era.

Flacco had never led the Ravens to a Super Bowl as many wondered even just a few short weeks ago whether the fifth-year quarterback really had the ability to do.

Baltimore was the only team in the NFL to have advanced to the postseason and won at least one playoff game in each of the last five seasons, but the Ravens were always a bridesmaid but never the bride to represent the AFC on the biggest stage in professional sports.

Despite coming within a Lee Evans catch of toppling Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in last year’s conference championship, Flacco didn’t take the quantum leap many thought he would during the regular season. His Week 15 interception returned for a touchdown in a blowout loss at home to the Denver Broncos appeared to be the lowest point of his career.

Anyone who watched these Ravens play over the course of the 2012 season would agree that they weren’t the best team in the conference. They certainly weren’t the most talented as critics dismissed a 9-2 start while pointing out their many flaws and shortcomings due to a significant number of injuries. An inconsistent offense and a diminishing, aging defense didn’t exactly scream “Super Bowl contender” in the eyes of even the most optimistic Ravens fans.

A three-game losing streak to start the month of December that included the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron appeared to be a death sentence. Instead, it was the precursor to three straight wins in the month of January as the Ravens flattened New England in the second half Sunday night to win 28-13 and advance to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

Even if they weren’t the AFC’s best from September through December, Flacco and the Ravens proved to be the superior quarterback and the superior team when it really mattered.

As Harbaugh preached about the entire team’s effort following Sunday’s game, pointing to a second half when the Ravens outscored New England 21-0 to turn a 13-7 halftime deficit into a comfortable 15-point victory in Foxborough, the biggest story was once again Flacco. Arguably scrutinized more than any quarterback in the league, Flacco followed up an outstanding performance against Peyton Manning in the divisional round with a brilliant second half at Gillette Stadium while Tom Brady wilted against the Baltimore defense to lose the first home game of his career in which the Patriots led at the half.

In the Ravens’ path to Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco has thrown for 853 yards, eight touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 114.7 passer rating in three playoff wins. He hasn’t tossed an interception since that fateful day when he laid face-down on the turf at M&T Bank Stadium following Chris Harris’ 98-yard return for a touchdown on Dec. 16.

The question really isn’t whether Flacco is an “elite” quarterback as so many like to ask. The University of Delaware product has been the best the AFC had to offer in the playoffs and is now 60 minutes away from an invitation to join a select group of Super Bowl winners that includes Manning, Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Drew Brees.

Instead of chastising him for what he’s not, it’s time to recognize Flacco for what he is — a great quarterback with an unwavering ability to remain cool under pressure. His demeanor over this last month never changed as he adjusted to Jim Caldwell’s new role as offensive coordinator and put the Ravens on his back to land them in the Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years.

This is far from Harbaugh’s most talented group of players, but the difference is the Ravens have a quarterback not only capable of leading them to the Super Bowl, but they have one who did it with an exclamation point on Sunday night.

For years, the vaunted Ravens defense was always looking across the field at a Brady or a Manning or a Roethlisberger and could only wonder what might have been if the unit had a signal-caller like that on its side. Baltimore no longer has to do that as many teams around the league will now begin to look at Flacco with a similar kind of reverence.

If we’ve learned anything about him over these last three weeks, it’s not only that he’s a great quarterback, but we now expect — not hope for — him to be great on the biggest stage. The Ravens will once again be underdogs against Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, but the confidence once enjoyed only in places like New England, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh is now bursting at the seams in Baltimore over its quarterback.

They will have a great chance to win because they have a great quarterback. It’s that simple, even if it’s been a long time coming for the Ravens.

It doesn’t matter that Flacco wasn’t the best quarterback and the Ravens weren’t the best team in the AFC in the regular season.

They’re standing at the top and they earned it by toppling the best the conference had to offer in January.

 

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Harbaugh (John, that is) had his finest moment in New England on Sunday night

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Harbaugh (John, that is) had his finest moment in New England on Sunday night

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Drew Forrester

There will be story after story about the Harbaugh brothers over the next two weeks, but I’m not really fit to offer any analysis on the one who coaches the 49′ers because I don’t follow and cover them every single day during the season.

But I can certainly contribute a thought or two on John, the one who has just led the Ravens to their first Super Bowl since 2000.

What we’ve seen this season, particularly since the December 16 home drubbing at the hands of Denver, is as fine a piece of coaching work as you’ll ever see anyone do in the NFL.

And Sunday night in New England, Harbaugh and his team produced one of the best thirty minutes in his five years at the helm in Baltimore, outscoring the Patriots 21-0 en route to the AFC crown.

Those two elements – Harbaugh’s knack for leading men and his big-game players making huge plays in season-changing moments – have put him over the top in terms of NFL coaches.

Make no mistake about this: John Harbaugh is one helluva football coach.

Members of the media don’t often get a chance to share a private post-game moment with the coaches.  They’re ushered in and out of the main media press conference room and shuttled to another obligation in such a fashion that, unlike the players, you rarely get an opportunity to spend a minute or two of one-on-one time.

Following last season’s heartbreaker in New England, I was walking out of the Ravens locker room through an area in the back that I thought would lead me to the main corridor when I literally made a wrong turn and walked smack into the team’s coaching dressing area.  There sat John, along with Cam Cameron and Chuck Pagano.  He looked up at me, eyes red, and said, “Hey, Drew, thanks for coming.”  We shook hands and I said, “You’re a terrific football coach.”  That’s what was in my heart to say, at the moment, because it’s what I believed then, and still believe now.  We small-talked for a moment and then he said, “You know, this will somehow make us better.  We won’t retreat because of this, I promise.  We’ll be back next year.”

Last night after the game, I saw Harbaugh as he was making the rounds talking to his players and staffers.  ”Thanks for coming,” he said again.  That’s his favorite saying, I think, but it’s the way he starts every press conference or media gathering and I don’t believe it’s just a throw-away line he uses like some would say, “How have you been?”

We spoke for a few minutes on Sunday night.  For now, I’ll keep the contents of that conversation private, but I reminded Harbaugh that a year ago in that very same room he vowed his team wouldn’t retreat because of the stunning loss to the Patriots.  ”Yeah, I remember that!” he said, and the smile on his face was sincere.

That the Ravens didn’t retreat in 2012 is about John Harbaugh and his belief in God, hard work, staying the course and, having really good players come through at the right time.

As any player will tell you, the best coaches are the ones who can juggle all the locker room elements and keep – as best as humanly possible – harmony among men from varying backgrounds.

There are players who feel intensely connected to God or their faith and some who aren’t as open about it or even interested in making it part of their profile.  Harbaugh has allowed his players to dictate how much religion has played a part in his team’s day-to-day happenings.  This Ravens team seems – to me, anyway – to be a little more “faith based” than others in the Harbaugh era, so he naturally gives more time to players who wish to promote their spiritual beliefs within the locker room.

Some coaches might not allow that type of freedom, especially if that coach wasn’t religious in nature, but Harbaugh has always allowed his players to determine the environment they work in on a daily basis.

There’s no better example of that than the bye week, where the Ravens were coming off of a 43-13 thrashing in Houston.  Harbaugh wanted to practice the players in pads before they all took off for their various vacations and so forth, but the veterans wanted no part of an intense, grueling practice session.  Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed were among two elder statesmen who got the coach’s ear and asked him – strongly, as the story goes – to reconsider the “padded practice” idea.  John could have easily said to them, “Guys, I’m the coach here.  We just got walloped in Houston.  You guys are all getting ready to head out of town for a few days.  Let’s end this with one good, hard practice to get us back in the groove of physical football.”  That’s what he COULD have said.  Instead, he relented, allowing his players to make the call and, at the same time, gaining an incredible amount of respect from his men.

(Please see next page) 

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Ravens’ improbable run may not be fate, but sure feels like storybook

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Ravens’ improbable run may not be fate, but sure feels like storybook

Posted on 15 January 2013 by Luke Jones

At some point over the final seven minutes of regulation in Denver on Saturday night, Steve Bisciotti saw the big picture while everyone else wondered if the Ravens’ season was coming to an end after Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas midway through the fourth quarter.

Under the weather and unable to make the trip to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Ravens owner did something he’d never done before by reaching out to John Harbaugh as the fourth quarter pressed on. Bisciotti knew the head coach wouldn’t see the text message until after the game, of course, but he wanted Harbaugh to know how impressed he was with such a valiant effort against the No. 1 seed Broncos.

“I’ve never texted you during a game,” Harbaugh read to his team following the 38-35 double-overtime win. “We are down 35-28. And I think it’s the best game I’ve ever seen us in the playoffs since 2000. Win or lose, I am so proud of the team and proud of you.”

Though not prophetic in the sense that Bisciotti predicted the final outcome or could foresee what would unfold, the gesture was just the latest in a list of special occurrences that make you wonder about these Ravens. Harbaugh and inside linebacker Ray Lewis have consistently referenced their faith and while I don’t subscribe to the idea that God or any divine being is concerned with the outcome of football games, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support that notion if you so choose.

The Ravens’ run to a second consecutive AFC championship game may not be fate, but it sure feels like a storybook tale, filled with trials, tragedy, and triumph. Perhaps that’s what Bisciotti was acknowledging in reaching out to his head coach in those closing minutes of regulation on Saturday night. Harbaugh couldn’t help but share it with his team following one of the greatest wins in the history of the franchise.

“It was just something I thought the team needed to hear, coming from him,” Harbaugh said. “He is a great leader. Our players love him. They love when he is around. He is an inspiration to all of our guys. To me, this organization, he sets the tone here. It’s a great organization because of his vision. The guys needed to hear that in that moment. I’ll tell you, I think they appreciated hearing it.”

And why wouldn’t they after such a remarkable season, filled with highs and lows?

The Ravens lost their original owner Arthur B. Modell just days before the start of the regular season. The man responsible for the very existence of the franchise here in Baltimore has been memorialized with a simple patch reading “Art” on the team’s jerseys all season long.

Personal tragedy struck young wide receiver Torrey Smith when his younger brother Tevin was killed in a motorcyle accident the night before the Ravens’ Week 3 meeting with the New England Patriots. Unsure if he would play earlier in the day, Smith caught two touchdown passes to lead the Ravens to a 31-30 victory as a national audience marveled at his courage on that Sunday night in September.

Injuries that would have devastated most teams have only strengthened the Ravens’ will as only two defensive players started all 16 games this season. Linebacker Terrell Suggs overcame a torn Achilles tendon in the offseason to return in mid-October before having to play through another debilitating injury when he suffered a torn biceps to begin the month of December. Playing nowhere near full strength all season, Suggs’ two sacks of Manning were critical in Saturday’s divisional-round win.

Ray Lewis, the face of the franchise playing in his 17th season, tore his right triceps on Oct. 14 as nearly everyone but the linebacker thought his season — and potentially his career — was over. Instead, the 37-year-old returned to action just in time for the playoffs and announced he would retire at the end of this “final ride” in the postseason.

A three-game losing streak in December that included the dismissal of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the promotion of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell threatened to dismantle the good vibes of a 9-2 start, but the Ravens rebounded to beat the New York Giants in convincing fashion to clinch their second straight AFC North division title in Week 16. An offense described as schizophrenic for most of the season has looked as potent as any in the NFL in disposing of the Indianapolis Colts and outscoring the powerful Denver Broncos in two playoff wins.

It’s rarely been easy or pretty, but here the Ravens stand in the middle of January, one of four remaining teams with a chance of raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the first Sunday in February.

“I don’t think a lot of people expected us to be here,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “For us to overcome a lot of things, not only injuries but some family problems with Torrey’s family, everything that has happened with our team, I think we all just understand that we’re a family here, and we can lean on each other and depend on each other.”

The highs have been as fun as any in franchise history as “Fourth and 29″ and “The Prayer in Thin Air” are words that will now live forever in Baltimore football lore.

Under-the-radar performers such as Corey Graham and Jacoby Jones, signed largely for their special-teams abilities, have been critical to the Ravens’ success in ways few would have envisioned in the offseason. Even the former punchline of the 53-man roster, veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, has finally regained his starting job to bolster an offensive line playing better now than it did all season.

Rookie kicker Justin Tucker, anointed by the Ravens to replace Billy Cundiff after a heartbreaking 32-yard miss in last year’s AFC Championship, rewarded the organization for its decision by nailing the game-winning 47-yard field goal in double overtime Saturday to send Baltimore back to the conference championship game.

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>

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Blame the Mayans? The purple sky is falling in Baltimore…

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Blame the Mayans? The purple sky is falling in Baltimore…

Posted on 17 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Many in the Baltimore Ravens fan base had a community online celebration last Monday morning when offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired by head coach John Harbaugh via owner Steve Bisciotti.

“That’ll fix it,” some of the unsophisticated eyes said. “Clearly, Cam was holding Joe Flacco and the offense back.”

It felt like scapegoating then and it feels even less satisfying after yesterday’s 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in a game where the final score wasn’t indicative of the lopsided nature of the day.

Fifteen days ago the Ravens were 9-2 after the “Hey diddle, diddle” miracle in San Diego. This morning, they’re 9-5 and the beneficiary of a playoff berth by virtue of backing in via the overtime loss of the Pittsburgh Steelers last night in Dallas.

It was hardly a time for celebration.

Hard times have come to the land of pleasant living and I don’t mean the tax rate hike.

Where to begin to assess the train wreck loss to Peyton Manning and the Broncos?

Harbaugh called it a “team loss” and he’s right about that. No sense in moving any particular names above the fold.

Quarterback Joe Flacco will shoulder the lion’s share of the blame, as it should be for the quarterback who is playing for a contract amidst what can only be deemed as chaos right now. The offensive line is in tatters, consistently getting beaten on failed run plays and often enough in the passing game to make it difficult for No. 5 to make plays. He hasn’t helped himself with poor judgment and errant throws.

The receiving corps continues to be depleted with the disappearance of Ed Dickson and a concussion suffered by Torrey Smith yesterday.

But the Flacco Pick Six interception to Broncos’ DB Chris Harris at the goal line in the waning seconds of the first half on Sunday will  forever be Ravens’ fans remembrance of an afternoon they’d sooner love to forget.

It was the worst pass of Flacco’s career and soon left him 100 yards away, winded, flailing, gassed and beaten by his own poor judgment. “I made a mistake,” he said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

Not only is Flacco’s stock teetering based on his dismal overall performance over the past month but the whole organization is dancing on the brink of the playoffs and extinction seemingly all at once.

And we’re only halfway through the “Manning Holiday Tour” as Eli Manning comes to Baltimore this week as the only guy getting more abuse than Flacco. The defending world champs were thoroughly trounced

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Ravens get blasted by Broncos; Flacco, Harbaugh have long days ahead

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Ravens get blasted by Broncos; Flacco, Harbaugh have long days ahead

Posted on 16 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

After the Ravens were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs on January 15, 2011, lots of folks in town were bellyaching about the (hopeful) removal of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

At the team’s “State of the Ravens” press conference a week or so later, owner Steve Bisciotti  explained his personal philosophy for retaining Cameron despite an up-and-down offensive performance from the unit he supervised during the regular season and playoffs.

“I know John’s feeling is we like Cam under fire next season as our offensive coordinator,” Bisciotti said that day, effectively supporting his coach by not ursurping his authority and firing Cameron because he has the right to make such a move.

Well, Cameron is gone now, having been dismissed by Bisciotti last Sunday night after the Ravens fell in Washington, 31-28 in OT just hours before.

So, Cameron is no longer under fire.

But someone else is and his name is Joe Flacco.

The Ravens dropped a 3rd straight game on Sunday, getting run out of the gym by the Denver Broncos, 34-17 at M&T Bank Stadium.  It would have been 41-17 or 48-17 if Denver needed bonus points on their checking account.  They basically just walked around throughout the 4th quarter and played keep-away with a 21-point lead.

And with the fan’s scapegoat, Cameron, now no longer part of the problem, Flacco has clearly become public enemy #1.

There’s an argument that he should be, based mainly on a horrible throw at the end of the first half that completely changed the game.  With Denver up 10-0, Flacco drove the offense down the field and had a first and goal on the 4-yard line when the 5th year quarterback tried a quick snap throw in the flat to Anquan Boldin.  The ball was picked off and returned 98 yards for a TD and a 10-7 game suddenly became 17-0.  And, of course, that was all she wrote, as Baltimore fell to 9-5 and dropped consecutive home games for the first time in five seasons.

Should Harbaugh and/or Flacco have called a time-out there?  Absolutely.  They had three to burn – and a rookie offensive coordinator in the booth.  Get a time-out there, get yourself situated, and make the game a 3-point affair heading to the locker room.

Blame that on Harbaugh if you want, or Flacco, since he’s a big boy and he’s been around long enough to know better, but one way or the other, someone has to call a time-out there and get things settled down.

Yes, that throw and the resulting interception return for a TD changed the game.

But I don’t think it cost the Ravens the game.

They weren’t winning this one, no matter how many times they got down there to the 4-yard line.  An undermanned Ravens defense actually did well to only allow Denver 27 points.

This one, honestly, was on Flacco and the offense.  Again.

But the quarterback doesn’t deserve all the blame.  The offensive line continues to be a trainwreck.  The wide receivers looked disinterested most of the afternoon.  And once it got to be 31-3, it almost looked like some guys had – ahem – “stopped trying” if you know what I mean.

(Please see next page) 

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New offensive coordinator Caldwell planning to call plays from booth

Posted on 13 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Holding court with the media for the first time since being promoted to the Ravens’ offensive coordinator position, Jim Caldwell plans to remain in the same spot during game days as he did as the quarterbacks coach.

Caldwell worked from the upstairs booth during previous games and plans to remain there in his first game since succeeding Cam Cameron in the play-calling duties. Wide receivers coach Jim Hostler will then be on the sideline and relay Caldwell’s calls to quarterback Joe Flacco

“That’s my plan, but obviously, that could change,” Caldwell said. “Whatever John [Harbaugh] wants me to do, that’s where I’ll be. At this point, that’s where I plan to be.”

Calling plays from upstairs will not only give Caldwell a better view of what the defense is trying to do but will keep him away from the chaotic nature of an NFL sideline with players and staff members often chirping in the heat of the moment during game action.

He has received tips from Hostler, who served as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers in 2007. Despite having never served as an offensive coordinator before, Caldwell expressed confidence in his ability to call the plays, citing how the offense always runs through quarterbacks and how he’s spent a large portion of his NFL career coaching that position.

Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis for seven years before becoming his head coach.

Several players have expressed optimism that the offense will employ a quicker tempo than used in recent weeks as the no-huddle offense had virtually disappeared. Caldwell didn’t specifically confirm whether the uptempo offense would be making its return on a more significant basis.

“One of the good things, I think, about our system is the fact that it’s versatile,” Caldwell said. “We can do whatever it takes. It just depends on who we are playing, how we want to attack them and what we think best suites our personnel. We kind of bounce in and out of it, but every game will take on its own personality.”

With the Ravens taking on Manning and the red-hot Broncos, winners of eight consecutive games, Caldwell and the offense know they will need to produce at a high level as the Baltimore defense continues to be ravaged by injuries.

Asked to share his philosophy for leading the Ravens offense, the new coordinator offered a simple response.

“Score as many as you can as often as you can,” said Caldwell, smiling at reporters.

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All eyes on Flacco as he begins next phase of NFL career

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All eyes on Flacco as he begins next phase of NFL career

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It looked like the typical Wednesday in Owings Mills as Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco stepped to the podium to meet with the media, but the circumstances had never been more different.

No matter how you feel about Flacco and where he ranks in the hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks, all eyes will be on him for the remainder of the season as the 27-year-old begins the next phase of his career without offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. It’s no secret the two struggled to coexist as the years progressed, even if Flacco downplayed that perception in his first interview since Cameron was fired on Monday.

Some think the quarterback has plateaued because of Cameron’s inconsistent play-calling, conservative nature, and reputation for being a control freak while others wonder if Flacco simply isn’t good enough to handle more responsibility within an offensive system or to take his game to another level.

With quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell promoted to offensive coordinator, Flacco will have his first chance to prove just how good he can be without Cameron’s involvement this Sunday against the Denver Broncos and their fourth-ranked defense. And if the Ravens are to snap a two-game losing streak and right the ship in time to make a deep postseason run, Flacco must take command of an offense in transition and desperately needing leadership and consistency at the most important position on the field.

Flacco acknowledged his part in Cameron’s dismissal when asked if he feels any responsibility for the coordinator’s demise. Of course, he’s not the only one to blame as inconsistent play from the offensive line and wide receivers has also plagued the Baltimore offense this season.

“I think as an offense, we have to look at ourselves and see what we can do to be better,” Flacco said. “Obviously, we weren’t good enough.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way after last season’s AFC Championship loss in which the Baltimore quarterback outplayed future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady despite Lee Evans’ failure to catch the game-winning touchdown and Billy Cundiff’s subsequent miss of the game-tying 32-yard field goal. The silver lining was Flacco’s 306-yard, two-touchdown performance that was to springboard him and the Ravens offense to bigger and better things in the final year of his rookie contract.

Instead, the 2012 season has brought much of the same from the 2008 first-round pick — a few great performances, some decent games, and still too many bad ones — as the offense hasn’t taken the significant leap many believed the Ravens needed with the anticipated decline of the long-vaunted defense. Looking elite at home with a 100.7 passer rating in six home games, Flacco has struggled on the road (a 75.4 rating) and still struggles to protect the football as he’s thrown a tolerable nine interceptions but has also fumbled eight times.

Leading the league’s 16th-ranked passing offense, Flacco has completed 60 percent of his passes, has averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, and has thrown for 3,220 yards and 18 touchdowns. Aside from being on pace to set a new career high in passing yards, Flacco has posted numbers mostly in line with his career averages. Good, but not great and certainly not worthy of the $100 million contract he desires.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti shouldn’t be swayed too dramatically over Flacco’s performance for the remainder of the season — barring a deep postseason run — but Cameron’s dismissal is a clear sign of the Ravens wanting to see what they really have with their franchise quarterback before deciding how much they ultimately invest in a long-term contract, regardless of when it’s ultimately signed. For now, it appears Flacco has received a new lease on life with the promotion of Caldwell, who has never held the title of offensive coordinator in his career.

“Joe seems like he’s happy about it,” left tackle Michael Oher said. “I’ve seen him smiling and stuff, so I’m pretty sure he’s OK with everything.”

All accounts point to Caldwell and Flacco holding a good relationship in their first season working together, and the former Colts head coach was credited by current Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning Wednesday for helping him take his play to another level in their years together in Indianapolis. However, it’s been difficult to pinpoint any particular part of Flacco’s game that’s noticeably improved this season while working with Caldwell. And there’s no telling how that relationship might be tested as inevitable disagreements occur over play calls and philosophy.

Whether it’s the possible reintroduction of the no-huddle offense that’s virtually disappeared in recent weeks or just a different voice and mind calling the plays, the Ravens offense isn’t expected to be reinvented in any dramatic way and how could it entering Week 15? But a change of this magnitude will force all offensive coaches and players to bring a renewed level of focus to account for potential growing pains.

“The biggest thing we’ve talked about is just coming together as an offense and everybody helping and giving their input because we’re going to need it,” Flacco said, “It’s a quick change, it’s late in the year, and it’s going to require all of us to be focused and work hard.”

Even with Cameron out of the picture and the possible mental boost that might bring for the quarterback — any employee finally escaping the thumb of an undesirable boss could attest to the notion — the flaws and shortcomings of the quarterback’s game are still there.

Flacco has struggled to throw the deep ball as he and speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith have frequently failed to be on the same page. The quarterback has been inconsistent in making adjustments at the line of scrimmage, either in changing plays or protections.

And his shortcomings with pocket awareness have led to sack-and-strip opportunities that have led to turnovers in two straight games. Of course, an inconsistent offensive line — now facing the possibility of no Marshal Yanda for the time being — hasn’t helped matters in that department, but the Ravens have acknowledged the need for Flacco to be more protective of the football in those situations. Entering this Sunday’s game, Flacco has fumbled 47 times in 77 regular-season games while Manning — a quarterback also lacking mobility — has fumbled just 59 times in 221 career regular-season contests.

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