Tag Archive | "Cam Cameron"

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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

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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One Down – One More to Go

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Tom Federline

First, let me get this out of my system………12-12-12. 10-10-10 (no, not the fertilizer – good stuff though), 11-11-11, pretty cool. Today is the last time we’ll be able to write the same number sequence for the month-day-year in our lifetime. The world hasn’t ended yet or is that like in 9 days? 12-12-12. 12-12-12. I dig it. 

“One down” – it’s about time. “Talk to ya Later” – (The Tubes) – Camera Cameron. See ya! Adios! Sayonara! Go repress another teams offense. You are done stifling the Ravens. Now, “one more to go” – if they would only get rid of Horribaugh. Whoa, asking for way to much at once for that one. Savor the moment and enjoy it. I did! If you have been following this blog and/or know me………..I am not a fan of Camera Cameron or John Horribaugh. For 3 years, I have expressed my concerns, hoping for a change. Well, we sure got one on Monday. Thank you Ravens front office (2 years to late though). 

Finally, let Flacco run the show. Jim Caldwell – all you should have to do is steer the boat. All Flacco has to do is go head to head, mano-y-mano against possibly one of the better field generals in football history this coming Sunday. Embrace it Joseph. It’s your time to shine. Your time to cash in. Your time to add a zero on a new long term contract. Nobody there to hold you down.

 Cameron is not the sole reason, the Ravens haven’t made it to the Promised Land these past few years. But he sure has assisted in delaying success. I never brought into the “We have a plan for Ray Rice.” Or “We have to be selective in our down field chances.” Or  – I’m calling this game in a matter so that I won’t lose my job. All I saw were missed opportunities. Hello Ravens front office, you may have waited to long and you may have squandered precious time with your veterans, i.e. Matt Birk, Ray-Ray, Ed Reed, etc. The Ravens had and have a loaded potential offense. Now let’s hope it’s recognized. 

 Will Mr. Blue Hen finally emerge from his feathers? Does he have “next level leadership qualities” in him? Guess we’re going to find out real quick. Sunday ought to be quite interesting. A win on Sunday – huge, a springboard to the playoffs. A loss on Sunday – realization the Ravens just aren’t that good. And they really aren’t – the defense can get lit up like a Christmas tree and the right guy is coming to town to do it. Can the Ravens offense go toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning? You’re darn right they can. Can the Ravens offense go toe-to-toe with Eli Manning? You’re darn right they can. MINUS Camera Cameron they have a legit shot.

Now with Horribaugh still on the sideline without his “partner in crime”, that’s a whole different story. Ten bucks says his lost puppy mug will look even more bewildered. Keep riding Ray-Rays coat tails Johnny, in fact let Ray-Ray coach and you just watch. Easy now……..I’m asking to much. I should just  be grateful that I have one less pillow to throw at the television on Sunday. No more flings at Cam Camerons’ mug or 1/2 mug behind a worthless play calling script. Come on Joe Cool – we got your back.

Baltimore, we have received an early Holiday present. One less thorn in the Ravens nest. Be thankful. You never know, we may receive another gift on Sunday –  Flacco shines, Caldwell shines, Horribaugh breaks down and requests advice from Ray Lewis on the sidelines, a win and clinch a playoff spot. Might as well ask for the whole ball of wax, when you have the chance. I really only need enough wax to make a small Ravens Christmas candle. Wait-a-minute, we already have received our second present – that Peyton Manning guy won’t be in a Baltimore Colts uniform! Good Luck Ravens, you’re gonna need it.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Bisciotti vs. Angelos — Oh, those meddling owners of Baltimore sports teams…

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Unlike most sportswriters and “journalists” around Baltimore, when you begin one of my masterpieces on sports ownership and civic expectations, at least you know where I stand. As a lifelong fan of the Colts, Orioles, Bullets/Wizards, Capitals and Ravens, it’s been my experience that nothing affects my fan experience more than who currently owns these franchises.

I have made it my life’s work via owning WNST.net to study these sports owners and how these local teams operate, function, thrive and compete.

And oft-times, checking their sobriety level and true intentions, goals and desires for their ownership becomes a guiding force for their popularity, success and profit. Somewhere deep inside of every Bob Irsay, Abe Pollin or Edward Bennett Williams, there’s a hunger for something intangible that their millions of dollars of U.S. currency can’t really buy – not that feeding their egos and wallets simultaneously would be turned down by any of these men.

But they want to be heroes. They want to be winners in a way that no court case or big sale or transaction can be felt in the traditional business world. They’re sportsmen. They want to save the city. They want to have that “one moment in time” feeling of watching the confetti drop while they toast a championship and host a ticker tape parade. Billy Joel once sang about them in a song called “Big Shot.”

No one associated with big-league sports ever lost money owning a team in Baltimore, with or without championships or competitive teams. The Colts, Orioles, Ravens all sold for more than their original purchase price. So, making money comes with the territory, even if you wreck the franchise for the fanbase, as has been witnessed here with Peter Angelos since 1993.

But I’ll also say this much: I also personally know some very good, civic-minded people who lost hundreds of thousands – if not MILLIONS of dollars – trying to run minor-leagues sports franchises in Baltimore since 1968, when I entered the planet and the local sports scene. The losses of Skipjacks, Clippers, Bandits, Lightning, Spirit, Claws, Blades, et. al. means there were some nice guys like Bill Stealey, Tom Ebright or Mike Caggiano losing a helluva lotta money on a hobby and sports dream gone wrong.

These are businesses. And as a business owner who has taken on immense risk buying and operating WNST over the years, I respect and honor the amount of work it takes to make a profit and keep customers and the community at-large happy.

I respect that Peter Angelos once bought the Baltimore Orioles to win championships and be the local hero owner. I also have watched him humiliate and degrade a whole generation of passionate Orioles fans and piss on the brand for better part of two decades with equal parts wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

This week, Steve Bisciotti, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens maneuvered quite heavy-handedly behind the scenes to oust offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, while head coach John Harbaugh took the podium to make an announcement that it was pretty clear he was uncomfortable with in just about every way.

As a fan, all I’ve ever asked for is accountability and knowing what the intentions of the owner are so I can tell Baltimore sports fans what’s really happening.

It really speaks volumes when you watch the way the two franchises in Baltimore weave through a sports calendar with incredibly expensive, risky and “no turning back” decisions.

And let’s make this really clear: Steve Bisciotti and Peter Angelos run their franchises and make the last call on virtually every decision. They’ve earned that right because they took the

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Does Ozzie Newsome deserve some blame in the Flacco-Cameron saga?

Posted on 11 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

If you’re one of those who like to play the blame-game, Monday’s dismissal of Cam Cameron offers you a smorgasbord of options on which to feast.

In no specific order, you have the following:

John Harbaugh, the man who employed Cam for the last 4+ seasons, and the person in charge of the on-field product, which includes being in touch with his players and their festering aggravation with one of his coaches.

Steve Bisciotti, who, while rightfully considered in general a “good owner”, has spent a little too much time over the years hob-knobbing with the players to the extent he might be closer with them then he should be.

Joe Flacco, perhaps the main spoke in the Cameron firing-wheel, and the guy who potentially might have suffered the most while working under his now former boss.  But, if Cameron was inconsistent as a play-caller and offensive coordinator, Flacco has to wear the same basic scarlet letter, for he, too, hasn’t exactly been a shining beacon of consistency in the last four months.

The Ravens defense, which has been occasionally superb but more often a liability this season, particularly in the final 5 minutes of the team’s most two recent losses to the Steelers and Redskins.  True, they were very good earlier in the year against the Chiefs and the Browns and the Chargers.  They were also woefully exposed by the Cowboys, Texans, Steelers (with a bum at quarterback) and Redskins.

The Ravens offense, with players in key positions not playing up to par week-in and week-out.  I’m all for Jim Caldwell taking over at this point, but I’d be shocked if he can give back to Anquan Boldin that step he’s lost over the last year or so…or turn Michael Oher into a premier pass blocker as a left tackle…or heal Marshal Yanda’s bad ankle within two weeks…or get Torrey Smith to run his routes to completion the way they’re designed in the playbook.

And then, there’s one other name to add to the mix:  Ozzie Newsome.

Let the continuing story of “how Cam got canned” be examined with Ozzie’s name in mind, for it’s Newsome who wasn’t able to ink a new deal with his team’s franchise quarterback, thus paving the way for Joe Flacco to play the 2012 campaign as a “lame duck”.

Yes, there always remains the option of the franchise tag for Flacco.  But, as any player will tell you, that’s a band-aid – a nice, lucrative one – he’d rather not wear if it’s possible.

The easiest way to start any conversation about Joe Flacco and his contract situation is to simply say this about him and his future in Baltimore:  The Ravens want him back in 2013 and Flacco would like to return for a 6th season.

There’s no debating that at this point.  The two parties are still in love.

But – and here’s where we start the dissection of how things are off kilter – these are very complicated times in Owings Mills, particularly when it comes to assessing Flacco’s value.

And who’s fault is that?

If you ask Flacco and/or his agent, Joe Linta, they’re going to place the blame squarely on the employer — the Ravens, the offense and, naturally, Cam Cameron.

Linta, as a natural reaction to his Flacco’s contract status being in the spotlight, would argue up and down that with each passing game where the Baltimore offense was stagnant or stuck in neutral because of Cameron’s inconsistency, his client was effectively “losing money”.

Honestly — he’s right.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that his client doesn’t bear some of that responsibility.  He, Flacco, that is, might be costing himself money with every incompletion or strip-sack or poor audible.

But the agent would never admit that to the general manager of the team.

Instead – and if you close your eyes and let the movie play out in your head, you’ll hear it for yourself – I’m quite certain with every “new conversation” Linta and Newsome have had over the few months that Joe’s representative has reminded Ozzie in no uncertain terms that Cameron and the on-again, off-again Ravens offense is costing the quarterback big money.

“Ozzie, I respect you and the organization and so does Joe,” Linta is likely saying.  “But you can’t possibly think you’re doing my client a true service by having Cam Cameron operate that offense in such a manner that it’s clearly hindering his qualities as a high-level NFL player.  You’ve known for a year now that Cam and Joe can’t exist together in the long run.  They’ve tried to make it work and it’s just not going to happen.  All you’re doing by trying to force this Cameron-Flacco relationship on both of them is costing Joe Flacco money.  And, even though I make little in comparison to my client, you’re costing ME money, too.  Get this Cameron thing sorted out and let’s make Joe the $90 million player he deserves to be.”

I imagine a conversation like that has been going on nearly every Monday or so for the last 13 weeks.

(Please see next page)

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