Tag Archive | "Cam Cameron"

Ravens offense aiming to be “on same page” on road

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Ravens offense aiming to be “on same page” on road

Posted on 01 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A common theme has been echoed by Ravens players and coaches alike in describing the offensive woes away from M&T Bank Stadium this season.

In pinpointing what needs to be done after mustering just 28 points in their last 10 quarters of play on the road, members of the organization have uttered “execution” over and over, but making it happen is the challenge. An offense that’s looked like one of the NFL’s elite in four home games this season — averaging just over 32 points per contest — has been out of sync and unproductive in three road games this season in which they’ve scored a total of 45 points.

Taking the bye week to assess what’s gone wrong and how to fix it, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron reminded everyone the tools are there to be successful away from M&T Bank Stadium. The productive numbers at home prove the personnel and scheme are more than capable of being successful, but overcoming the challenges of communication and simply remaining calm have plagued the Ravens far too often in road contests.

“The one thing that we’re not as good at on the road as we are at home is being on the same page,” Cameron said. “It might be any combination — it could be in the passing game, it could be in protection, it could be in the run game. So, we’re looking at everything from a communication standpoint, how we can make sure, on the road, that we’re on the same page.”

Questions have once again surfaced about quarterback Joe Flacco and the amount of freedom he has to operate at the line of scrimmage and make adjustments if necessary. Cameron repeated the fifth-year signal caller has all the freedom he needs to read opposing defenses and make changes on the fly.

With the increased use of the no-huddle attack this season, the proclamation shouldn’t come as a shock despite some critics suggesting otherwise.

“It’s common knowledge all the leeway that Joe has at the line of scrimmage now,” Cameron said. “Everybody knows the options that he has.”

If Flacco holds as much influence as his offensive coordinator suggests, perhaps a more important question that hasn’t been asked very often is the amount of responsibility the on-field leader of the offense holds in explaining why Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has seemingly disappeared at certain points in road games this season.

Has the Baltimore quarterback checked out of plays designed to feed Rice the football when it may not have been the best choice to do so? Or, has the quarterback simply made the necessary adjustments against certain defensive looks? Does the audible menu itself needs to be adjusted to include Rice more often?

The answer is open for interpretation based on comments made by Cameron on Thursday.

“We are at our best when everyone is involved,” Cameron said. “Ray is a big part of what we’re doing. We have to make sure that within our audible system, the audibles don’t take the ball out of his hands, based on what the defense might be dictating.”

Whether it’s making a concerted effort to give Rice more carries early in games or to target him more often out of the backfield in the passing game, nearly everyone invested in the Ravens’ offense has suggested the two-time Pro Bowl running back needs to have a bigger workload.

Sunday’s meeting with the Cleveland Browns will provide the first post-bye test in determining what breakthroughs the Ravens have made offensively, albeit against an underwhelming opposing defense.

Pees searching for answers defensively

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Ravens Identity Crisis

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Ravens Identity Crisis

Posted on 01 November 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Before the Ravens can be who they want to be, they have to decide who they want to be. This team can’t know where they’re going until they decide who they are; and so far at least, who they are seems to be a team suffering from an identity crisis.

The Ravens have never in their history experienced a sustained level of success that matches what they’ve accomplished over the last four years. And despite all of the “sky is falling” prognostications they look like a team that’ll be tough to keep out of a 5th straight playoff appearance. That said, it appears a safe bet that this season will end like the other four that preceded it…short of the Super Bowl.

 

It is the burden of expectations; a problem that more than half of the league’s teams would kill to have, but that will be of little consolation to those who have been along for this 4+ year ride.

 

Regardless of their previous successes or failures, the Ravens have always had an identity. Often times it was a frustrating identity, that of a team that would play to the strength of their defense and running game and that of a team that was seemingly being passed by as the rest of the league and its philosophies evolved.

 

For the last several years the team has appeared to be one in transition. Behind their (first ever) franchise quarterback and the franchise’s most versatile running back, Ravens fans have been pining for the switch to be flipped. This has put the offensive coordinator in a tough spot. Fans love the wide-open offense when it’s working (there were no calls complaining about Ray Rice’s touch numbers after the Ravens took apart Cincinnati in week 1) but still default back to their old school philosophies (Rice needs 25 touches per game) when it’s not working.

 

Cam Cameron has been the easiest of targets because he’s been the guy charged with authoring that transition, and because until he does so successfully, no one has any reason to be loyal to him. Owner Steve Bisciotti didn’t help Cam’s plight when he declared him “under fire” after the 2010 season.

 

In Cam’s defense though, he hasn’t exactly been set up for success. Throughout the Cameron/Harbaugh/Flacco era, the offensive line has been makeshift at best, the wide receiver corps dynamic and short staffed. The team still lacks a “go up and get it” threat that they can have confidence in between the hash marks and has instead invested heavily in a Pro-Bowl caliber backfield that’d be best served grinding out yardage on the ground.

 

The guy in charge of supplying that talent, Ozzie Newsome, has delivered a Super Bowl. He has a documented track record of draft successes that is tough to question much less match. And he has for that reason earned a status that insures he’ll hold his job for as long as he wants. That said, it seems that Ozzie is still building the Ravens to be a team that wins on defense and through their running game, while everyone else (in the league) is going in a different direction.

 

Lately Newsome has compounded those problems by “being too cute” on draft day. The Wizard’s willingness (or need) to forego first round picks in favor of stacking late round picks seems sound based on his history, but lately that abundance of picks hasn’t borne much fruit.

 

What the Ravens have now is an aged and beleaguered defense and an offense not built to overcome them. They have a real need to work out a long term deal with a quarterback who’ll wind up hamstringing their spending ability otherwise if he has to wear the franchise tag. And they’re a team that looks nothing like the wide-open “modern offense” that many expected them to be by now.

 

Steve Bisciotti took a great deal of pride back in 2005 with changing the process of communication in the building. It seems that we’re back to a place where one hand isn’t talking to the other. And it seems that the one guy who’s not on board with opening up the offense is the one who’s making the personnel decisions. That quite simply can’t work.

 

Before these Ravens can figure out where they’re going, they’ll have to decide who they are…and father time remains undefeated.

 

 

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10 Sports Limericks

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10 Sports Limericks

Posted on 25 October 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

This week the Ravens are stammering,

The Texans just gave them a hammering.

You knew they were done,

When they threw out the run.

And now fans want to fire Cam Cameron

 

The Tigers had visions of grandeur,

And threw out an ace in Verlander.

But for being the best,

Maybe had too much rest.

And in Game 1 got beat by a Panda

 

There once was a QB named Cam,

Who wanted to be Superman.

But when things don’t work out,

He always starts to pout.

So now people are calling him Sham.

 

 

The Bounty-Gate thing was malicious,

Inspiring hits that were vicious.

But the players suspended,

Had their punishments ended.

And now have beef with two commishes.

 

 

There once was a Jag named Maurice,

Who called the Bears quarterback weak.

He should laugh at himself,

Because he’s now on the shelf.

With a little foot that he just tweaked.

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Bring Out Your Dead

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Bring Out Your Dead

Posted on 24 October 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Inspired by the scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where the body cart is being pushed through the city during the plague as the mortician cries “Bring Out Your Dead”. As one man ambitiously tries to deliver a not quite dead elderly man to the cart hilarity ensues. Here’s a look at who’s being (or has been) written off for dead in the sports world, and what the final prognosis might be.

“I’m Not Dead Yet” – Despite reports to the contrary these guys are not dead yet, but may have one foot in the proverbial grave and another on a banana peel.

 

Cam Newton – Superman has become the Super-Sulker but he’s not dead yet, not by a long shot. Still there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. Newton’s post-loss body language has been unbearable. We can all appreciate that the kid wants to win, but he’ll have to do some growing up before he can become a leader of men. Cam took everyone (including himself) to task in the wake of the Panthers most recent defeat, but mostly seemed to point fingers at his offensive coordinator. Newton is looking for a game plan that authors blowouts but will sooner or later have to learn that life in the NFL doesn’t work that way. In 3 of his 5 losses this season, Cam has had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game in the final 5 minutes. If he intends to be the star he’s being cast as, he’ll need to get comfortable in those situations. It’d also help if Newton stopped shaking off teammates’ efforts to celebrate TDs with him while clearing out space to do his ridiculous Superman dance.

 

 

Cam Cameron – Sticking with Cams, reports of the demise of Cam Cameron might be a byproduct of Ravens fans wishes more than anything else. In the wake of the Ravens most recent disappointment against the Houston Texans however, another long and introspective look at this offense might be long overdue. Cameron was “under fire” by owner Steve Bisciotti last season and managed to survive. There’s no reason to believe the Ravens will make a change before seasons end, but in the event that it doesn’t end in the Super Bowl, this season could very likely be Cameron’s last.

 

Maurice Jones-Drew – Remember MJD calling out Jay Cutler a couple of seasons ago for surrendering during the playoffs due to an MCL injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and didn’t require surgery. Last week in a game the Jaguars lost in overtime to a less than spectacular Oakland Raiders squad, MJD watched from the sidelines while nursing a foot injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and that apparently won’t require surgery. This on the heels of his extended and controversial holdout from training camp while trying to earn a new contract or force a trade won’t buy Jones-Drew much empathy as he watches from the sidelines for the next couple of weeks at least.

 

Lance Armstrong – Maybe the Lance Armstrong fiasco will give us a long overdue chance to examine ourselves. He lorded over a sport that was rampant with doping and drug use, and while he adamantly proclaimed being above it throughout his once storied and undeniably dominant career. Now having given up the fight and having been stripped of all of his career accolades Armstrong also finds that those who rode his coattails to success and fortune aren’t set to stand by him in the hard times. It’s still impossible to ignore all of the good that Armstrong has done in his career, and it seems only a matter of time before he’ll inevitably bounce back in the court of public opinion…but it doesn’t look like it’ll be terribly easy, or any time soon for that matter.

 

Dirk Nowitzki – Just as the world was ready to close the book on the legacy of Dirk Nowitzki he surprised everyone and cemented that legacy by winning an NBA championship. He backed it up however by showing up for a lockout shortened NBA season the following year out of shape, and now looks ready to miss at least the first few weeks of this season as he recovers from ankle surgery. It may now be safe to close the book on Nowitzki’s NBA legacy. It appears he got that title just in the nick of time.

 

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All of this talk about “elite” is getting us away from the real issue…

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All of this talk about “elite” is getting us away from the real issue…

Posted on 22 October 2012 by Drew Forrester

Elite.

“Is Flacco elite?”

Elite, elite, elite.

I’m making a decision, right now, on October 22:  I am no longer using that stupid word – elite – to judge a quarterback, particularly the guy in Baltimore.

Mind you, I’m not one that throws that “E word” around much as it is, but it’s always the big argument in football.  Is so-and-so an “elite” quarterback?

It’s 10-minutes of filler for ESPN and all of the other talking heads.  ”Is he elite?”…blah, blah, blah…

So, from this day forward, I’m going to use a new word to discuss and analyze any and all quarterbacks in the NFL.

It will be a non-negotiable word.  One you can’t possibly argue.  And right now, in the league, there are only six of these kind of quarterbacks.

They’re called “championship quarterbacks” and they are, in no order, Brady, Roethlisberger, Brees, Rodgers, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning.

No one else in the league is worthy of inclusion on that list.  And that includes Flacco.  And Matt Ryan.  And Michael Vick.  And Matt Stafford.  And RGIII.

You’re either a championship quarterback or you’re just a quarterback.

In the other words, there’s only one way to be an “elite quarterback”.  You must have a ring.  There are a few very notable exceptions over the last 30 years.  Guys like Dan Marino and Jim Kelly and Warren Moon are Hall-of-Famers and they don’t sport flashy jewelry.  But those are three very rare exceptions to the rule.  And that rule is:  ”If you want to be elite, you better have a ring on your finger.”

At this point, Flacco is a good quarterback.  Is he better than Ryan or Stafford?  Some games, yes.  Some games, no.  But he’s not better than Brees.  Or Brady.  Or Roethlisberger.  Or any of the guys with a ring.

We love to argue about whether or not the quarterback is “elite”.  For whatever reason – mainly because he’s usually the guy who makes the most money – it’s always the quarterback we throw under the super-microscope and try to come up with a word to define him.  These days, that word is “elite”.

But how do we determine what makes a guy “elite”?  Is it winning?  Championships?

We better be careful saying, “you can’t be elite unless you have a ring” because we’d then have a certain linebacker and safety in Baltimore who can’t be considered elite…since both Suggs and Reed are sans jewelry.

So, let’s get rid of that word, elite, when trying to define our quarterback in Baltimore.

You’re either a “championship quarterback” or you’re a quarterback trying to become one.

Let’s just worry about the only thing we should be worried about…and that’s WINNING.  Yes, he’s been the quarterback of the team that has made the playoffs four straight seasons.  Yes, he has a post-season victory in each of those four seasons.  And, honestly, I’m glad Flacco is the quarterback in Baltimore.  I’m in the pro-Flacco camp, if such a group exists.

But let’s just settle this debate about Flacco – and any others in the league who are good but haven’t won anything yet – and call a spade a spade.  He’s not a championship quarterback.  Yet.

When (not if…but when) Flacco does win a title, he’ll be considered “elite”.

For now, he’s not elite.

No disrespect, but that’s just the way it goes when you haven’t held up the trophy.

 

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Flacco, Ravens getting close to that “homer” tag they’d like to avoid…

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Flacco, Ravens getting close to that “homer” tag they’d like to avoid…

Posted on 21 October 2012 by Drew Forrester

There’s a policy in the NFL that all teams get a 10-minute “cooling off period” before the media is allowed to enter the locker room following a game.

Today, in the aftermath of the shellacking in Houston, I gave myself a two-hour grace period before sitting down to opine on what we all witnessed at Reliant Stadium.

Strangely, my opinion hasn’t changed much since 4:15 pm.

The Ravens appear as if they’ve become “homers”.

You know the story by now.  They’ve won 14 straight games at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

They can’t break an egg on the road.

But they sure can lay one.

I saw a lot of armchair coaches pointing the finger at Joe Flacco and the offense on Sunday as the Texans piled on the points in that 43-13 beatdown.

And I observed gobs of folks blaming the Baltimore defense for “not being able to stop anyone” as Houston controlled the ball and the game for the final 53 minutes.

Here’s the truth.

On the road, the offense isn’t very good.  Remember last week against Dallas?  They put up 31 points in a 2-point win over the Cowboys.  There was that 31 point effort at home against New England and the 44-pointer over the Bengals on September 10.

At home, the Ravens offense is alive and creative and mobile, not to mention efficient both on the ground and in the air.

On the road, they have as much energy as a hammock. They don’t do anything well.

The rest of the truth?

The defense isn’t very good, home or away, but Sunday in Houston it was pretty much a disaster throughout the afternoon as the Texans picked them apart in the air and ran through them on the ground.

If you’re of the mindset that “someone” has to get the blame, go ahead and blame away.

Cam Cameron absolutely deserves to be criticized.  At home, he puts together a game plan that helps garner points and win games.  On the road, his game-plan mostly brings snickers and f-bombs from those of us who don’t cover our eyes when the Ravens go on offense.

There was a point mid-way through the 4th quarter on Sunday when the Ravens were faced with 3rd and 3 and they were in four-down territory, trailing 36-10.  The third down play was a pass.  As was the fourth down play.  The Ravens were saved by a questionable pass interference call that extended the drive, but you get the point.  Looking at 3rd and 3 and knowing his offense was in a four-down situation, Cameron elected to pass on 3rd down.  Why not run there?  If you only pick up one or two yards, you run again on 4th down to get the first down.  If you can’t pick up three yards on two running plays in the NFL, you – as the coordinator of that sorry group – and your offensive line and running back shouldn’t get a meal or refreshments on the plane flight home.

Joe Flacco is going to get the hot-seat treatment this week from fans and media and let’s be fair, he deserves it.  He had the ball in his hand and the game in the balance in week #2 at Philly and couldn’t do anything.  Under his direction, the Ravens offense managed three measly field goals in a sleepy 9-6 win at Kansas City three weeks ago.  At home, he’s been spectacular at times.  On the road, he’s looked like a 15-handicapper playing against Tiger Woods.  There were also some lackluster offensive efforts last season in Jacksonville and Seattle, but in all fairness to the quarterback, last year is last year.  I’m only worried about this season.  And so far, in three away games, the offense and the quarterback of John Harbaugh’s team have been borderline woeful.

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Ravens offense failing to grow up during changing times in Baltimore

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Ravens offense failing to grow up during changing times in Baltimore

Posted on 21 October 2012 by Luke Jones

A returning Terrell Suggs said it best in reacting to the unholy beating the Ravens took in a 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday.

The 5-2 Ravens needed a slice of perspective in remembering it was one game and counted as only their second loss of the season, leaving them in good position in an otherwise mediocre AFC as they head into a much-needed bye week. But, they also couldn’t dismiss the worst defeat of the John Harbaugh era and how all their weaknesses were exposed in crystal-clear focus.

“It’s not the end of the world,” the Pro Bowl linebacker told reporters, “but it’s not something we’re going to take lightly, either.”

Needless to say, it was a difficult week for a Baltimore defense entering Week 7 ranked 26th overall in total defense after the losses of emotional leader Ray Lewis and top cornerback Lardarius Webb to season-ending injuries last Sunday. Yes, the miraculous return of 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs figured to provide a lift for a defense struggling to stop anybody on the ground or through the air, but to expect him to be a miracle worker so soon — or at any point this season — would be ignoring the issues across the board defensively.

A 26-year-old Lewis isn’t suddenly taking the field to rescue the defense and make it elite once again. Neither is a shutdown corner like a young Chris McAlister to rescue a porous pass defense. Improvements must be made, but there just aren’t enough playmakers on the defensive side of the football anymore to expect much more than an average defense at best. The numbers don’t lie.

In order for the Ravens to reach their ultimate goal of a deep playoff run and a Super Bowl this season, it will largely be on the shoulders of quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense. Baltimore needed a lift from its best unit on Sunday against the formidable Texans, who were ticked off from the embarrassing 42-24 loss suffered at the hands of the Green Bay Packers last week.

Not only did they fail in helping a struggling defense, but they gave the Texans an additional nine points with a safety and an interception returned for a touchdown by Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph early in the second quarter to make it a 16-3 game.

Flacco finished the day completing 21 of 43 passes for just 147 yards. His 3.4 yards per attempt average is as anemic as it comes and the fifth-year quarterback appeared rattled throughout the day, whether pressure was there or not.

The offensive line allowed four sacks, eight quarterback hits, and multiple passes to be batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Running back Ray Rice wasn’t a factor, with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron placing emphasis on the passing game early before the running game became useless after the Ravens fell behind by 26 points at halftime.

Wide receivers struggled to gain separation and failed to catch a pass of longer than 15 yards after the Ravens led the NFL with 34 offensive plays of 20 or more yards through the first six weeks of the season.

After their opening drive of the game in which they marched 45 yards to kick a 51-yard field goal, the Ravens failed to collect another first down in their next six drives of the first half, finally picking up another one after falling behind by a 26-3 margin. They were 0-for-7 on third down in the first half and 4-for-15 for the game.

In their three road games this season, the Ravens are 11-for-40 (27.5 percent) on third down while they have gone 18-for-42 (43 percent) on third-down conversions at home.

Simply pitiful.

The showing continued the disturbing trend of poor offensive production away from M&T Bank Stadium. Dating back to the second half of their Week 2 loss in Philadelphia, the Ravens have managed just 28 points in their last 10 quarters on the road.

Players and coaches alike say it boils down to lack of execution in what’s become a “Jekyll and Hyde” offensive attack for the better part of the last few seasons. It’s only magnified this season with the defense no longer capable of carrying the team as it did in years past.

The blame falls on everyone with a hand in the mixing bowl that is the Baltimore offense.

It’s on Cameron.

It’s on Flacco.

Yes, it’s on Harbaugh, who may not have the offensive background but is ultimately responsible for all phases of his football team.

The bye week comes at the perfect time as the Ravens will take advantage of the week off to get healthy on the defensive side of the ball while the offense and defense both evaluate personnel, tendencies, and strategy for the final nine weeks of the regular season.

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Our Ravens/Texans “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Texans “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 21 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Houston Texans 43-13 Sunday at Reliant Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

(NOTE: Not all photos from today, some photos courtesy of Houston Chronicle.)

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Christian Thompson

4. Terrence Cody

3. Michael Oher

2. Jimmy Smith

1. Joe Flacco (Two slaps)


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Ravens passing attack preparing for physical Chiefs secondary

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Ravens passing attack preparing for physical Chiefs secondary

Posted on 04 October 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Seeing the Ravens among the top offensive teams in the NFL is enough to make you blink twice after years of riding the coattail of the defense, but it represents a changing of the guard in Baltimore.

Through the first four games of the season, the Ravens rank second in total offense and fifth in points per game while their defense has slipped to 23rd overall in yards allowed this season. Much of the offensive improvement falls on the shoulders of fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco, who is on pace for his first 5,000-yard season when he has yet to even throw for 4,000 in a season.

However, Flacco would be the first to tell you his expanded set of weapons in the passing game has helped him immensely as the addition of the speedy Jacoby Jones and the improvement of 2011 second-round pick Torrey Smith have led to a more dynamic passing game, which ranks fourth in the league in yardage. Baltimore leads the league with 26 plays of 20-or-more yards this season, with 24 coming through the air.

“[Defenses] definitely have to decide how to play us,” Flacco said. “They’ve tried to take those guys away, and sometimes they’ve left them one-on-one out there. In either situation, I think we’ve done a good job of running routes underneath and winning underneath.”

The one week in which the Baltimore receivers seemed to be outmatched came against the Philadelphia Eagles as cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played press coverage with a single deep safety for much of the afternoon. Ravens wideouts were held to just six catches for 85 yards, with Jones catching a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Flacco attempted 42 passes against the Eagles but only targeted wide receivers 12 times as he instead looked at tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson and running back Ray Rice. He averaged only 5.5 yards per attempt in the Ravens’ 24-23 loss.

Possessing the league’s 13th-ranked pass defense, the Kansas City Chiefs will employ a similar defensive style with their 3-4 alignment as opposed to the Eagles’ 4-3 scheme.

“They are playing bump-and-run Cover 1, a lot of single-high coverage,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “They feel good about their inside linebackers’ ability to cover. They like their ability to get edge pressure to help their secondary. So, I like the way they’re aggressive. Most teams that can play bump-and-run man-to-man play Cover 1, they can give you some problems.”

Comparatively speaking, cornerback Brandon Flowers brings a physical presence similar to Rodgers-Cromartie while Stanford Routt is more of a speed coverage back like Asomugha. Neither is as talented as the tandem in Philadelphia, but the Chiefs also have one of the best young safeties in the league in Eric Berry to offer assistance in coverage.

Going back through the last few seasons, receivers have struggled to beat press coverage and gain separation against more physical defensive backs and it’s a strategy the Ravens will once again encounter in Kansas City. If Flacco cannot find open targets, he will face heat from outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston coming around the edges.

The Kansas City defense showed its potential last season in handing the 13-0 Packers their only loss of the regular season as they sacked quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and held him to only 235 yards passing on 35 attempts while holding their talented wide receivers in check.

“You better be able to run through those seven yards, get yourself free, get yourself clean, get some separation so Joe can get the ball out,” Cameron said. “These guys do an outstanding job rushing the passer. You saw last year when Green Bay went in there undefeated and they got a ton of pressure on Rodgers. The combination of their coverage and their pressure is the toughest part.”

Pollard not feeling sentimental

Strong safety Bernard Pollard began his NFL career in Kansas City where he was a second-round selection in the 2006 draft.

Playing for then-coach Herman Edwards, Pollard spent three seasons with the Chiefs and amassed 189 tackles, three interceptions, and one sack in his time there. However, the seventh-year safety says he doesn’t view the game with any special significance.

“It’s not about me. A lot of guys on this team have been on other teams,” Pollard said. “It’s not about that individual. It’s about us as a team going into a hostile environment and getting a win.”

However, Pollard went on to discuss how many of his former teammates remain in Kansas City, including running back Jamaal Charles as the two spent the 2008 season together before Pollard wound up in Houston a year later. That year, Charles was a rookie from the University of Texas.

The Baltimore defensive player credited his former teammates for hanging tough in Kansas City after a rough start to the 2011 season that included season-ending injuries to Charles and Berry and the dismissal of head coach Todd Haley. Pollard is anxious to face the talented Charles, who ranks second in the NFL with 415 rushing yards.

“It’s going to be fun being able to see him,” Pollard said. “Just to see him become the player that he is. When they drafted him in the third round, just to see him now, the guy is a very talented player. That’s what Herm wanted. You look at a lot of players that they have, Herm drafted a lot of those men that are key athletes on their team.”

Injury report

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Reed sounds off on replacement officials and Thursday games

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Reed sounds off on replacement officials and Thursday games

Posted on 25 September 2012 by Luke Jones

After one of the most controversial calls in NFL history occurred on the final play of Monday night’s game between the Packers and the Seahawks, it’s no surprise there were strong reactions from many within the Ravens locker room on Tuesday.

Many players elected to speak off the record, but safety Ed Reed has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, whether it ruffles feathers or not. The 34-year-old admits he did not stay awake to see the controversial awarding of a touchdown to Seattle on a Hail Mary pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate despite the fact that Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings appeared to have secured an interception on the final play of the game.

However, Reed saw the replay Tuesday morning and echoed sentiments shared by teammates Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis, who have questioned the overall integrity of the game with replacement officials being placed in charge during preseason games and the first three weeks of the regular season.

“We all saw that guy had the ball,” Reed said. “They should have called pass interference first on Tate. But that’s what’s been going on with these refs. It’s like Joe said, there’s an integrity part about the game that they expect the players to uphold. Protect the shield like they always tell us, but they don’t protect the shield when it comes to the owners and everybody else getting money. It’s not for the refs, it’s not for the players. When I went through my thing in the offseason, everybody coming at my head, but I speak the truth.”

Reed spoke publicly several times during the offseason about players receiving poor treatment, though it was never clearly expressed whether his issues were with the Ravens organization specifically or the NFL in general. Of course, the veteran also hinted strongly about his desire for a new long-term contract and his wish to be treated fairly.

With the Ravens set to host the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, they experience a quick turnaround after playing a Sunday night game. Many players around the league have shared disdain for Thursday games, and Reed pointed out what he feels to be the real motivation behind the weekly game televised on the NFL Network.

“I never liked the Thursday night games, even when they came out,” Reed said. “It’s all about money. Like I said, it’s out of our hands.”

With commissioner Roger Goodell and the league publicly promoting player safety over the last few years, the initiative to stage a Thursday night game every week this season — Thursday contests didn’t begin until November in past years — can easily be interpreted as hypocritical in the players’ eyes.

Balancing act or not?

A week after drawing the ire of fans and media alike for a perceived failure to involve Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice enough in the offense in a loss at Philadelphia, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has received praise for the improved balance he found between the pass and the run in the Ravens’ 31-30 win over the New England Patriots.

Of the 65 plays the Baltimore offense ran, Rice received 20 carries on his way to a 101-yard rushing day while quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 382 yards on 39 pass attempts. The establishment of Rice on the ground helped create room down the field as New England’s safeties had to inch closer to the line of scrimmage in run support.

Many assume this is the balance the Ravens are after ever week, but Cameron took an interesting stance on the assumption for what his offense needs to do to be successful.

“We’re always wanting to be as balanced as we can be, but it’s not going to be the same every week,” Cameron said. “I think we know that. Balance isn’t as big of a priority for us as it is for everybody else. It’s about attacking the defense we’re playing. We may throw it every down some game. If we think that’s what we need to do to win the game, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Through three games, Rice has 46 carries, which is actually five more than he had through Week 3 of last season. The two-time Pro Bowl back finished with a career-high 1,364 rushing yards and led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,068.

After the organization awarded Rice with a five-year, $40 million contract that includes $24 million guaranteed, it’s apparent Cameron and the Ravens are committed to protecting their investment for the long term and will not wear blinders to that notion every week.

“If we as a staff gave Ray Rice the ball as much as everybody wants us to, he would wind up like the rest of the backs in this league,” Cameron said. “We’re not going to let that happen. I think there’s a sweet spot on how much you can use a three-down back in this business over a 20-game-plus season. We think we’ve found that sweet spot for him.

“It will vary a little bit from week to week, but you can’t find many backs in this league that can last 16, 20 games, much less [for] five seasons. So, I think we’ve got a good feel for what is best for him and what is best for us.”

If history is any indication, Rice should expect to receive plenty of opportunities against the Browns Thursday night as they’re tied for 22nd against the run. In two games against Cleveland last season, Rice carried 52 times for 291 yards.

When the teams met in Cleveland last season, Rice rushed for a career-high 204 yards as Baltimore set a franchise record for rushing attempts in the 24-10 victory.

But that doesn’t mean the Ravens will use a similar game plan, according to the offensive coordinator.

“We ran it 55 times last year against Cleveland, because that’s what we needed to do,” Cameron said. “Balance is, I think, something we’ll look at at the end of the year. We want to be balanced over the course of time, but every given week, in all likelihood, we’re not going to be balanced.”

Injury report

BALTIMORE
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (knee), T Jah Reid (calf), CB Lardarius Webb (knee)

CLEVELAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), TE Alex Smith (head)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DB Sheldon Brown (chest), WR Joshua Cribbs (knee), LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique), DB Ray Ventrone (hand)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OL Jason Pinkston (ankle), DL Frostee Rucker (wrist), RB Trent Richardson (knee), LS Christian Yount (shoulder)

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