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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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Rice says Cameron firing is “wake up call for everybody” with Ravens

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Rice says Cameron firing is “wake up call for everybody” with Ravens

Posted on 12 December 2012 by WNSTV

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Flacco “stunned” by abrupt firing of Cam Cameron

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Flacco “stunned” by abrupt firing of Cam Cameron

Posted on 12 December 2012 by WNSTV

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

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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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Dear John: Why is now the right time to fire Cam Cameron?

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Dear John: Why is now the right time to fire Cam Cameron?

Posted on 10 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

At some point this morning all hell broke loose in Owings Mills. It’s not often – or I’m not sure it’s ever been done before successfully – that an offensive coordinator of a 9-4 football team that produced 21 points of road offense in the first 21 minutes of a game is fired less than 21 hours later.

But it happened this morning. Tony Dungy got a leak from Jim Caldwell and gave it to Dan Patrick, who then gave it to Mike Florio. And then we learned that Cam Cameron was fired and told his friend Jamie Costello at ABC2.

Word is that there were some rather harsh words exchanged, feelings hurt and that Cameron was shocked by everything about the decision, which wasn’t made solely by John Harbaugh. WNST has also learned that Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was directly involved in the decision as well.

The Baltimore Ravens were 53-24 & 5-4 in playoffs during his tenure as offensive coordinator. He also inherited a rookie QB, RB & first offense without Jon Ogden at left tackle in 2008.

WNST.net monitored it minute to minute on Twitter and we’re all still sorting through everything but what’s obvious – the Baltimore Ravens are struggling in lots of ways right now to win a game and Cam Cameron obviously worked his way through the doghouse of John Harbaugh and was shown the door this morning.

It might never be reported what happened last night in the mind of Harbaugh and/or Bisciotti or how long this change has been brewing – and don’t expect him to be forthcoming in his press conference when questioned about the change – but it’s now done, and veteran offensive mind and QB guru Jim Caldwell will take over a sputtering offense that he’s had almost a calendar year to dissect and learn with Joe Flacco at the helm.

What will really change this Sunday vs. the Denver Broncos?

Who knows?

But Cam Cameron didn’t have false starts. Cam Cameron didn’t put the offense in 1st & 23s, 2nd & 17s and 3rd & 11s. Cam Cameron didn’t miss blocks and assignments. Cam Cameron didn’t throw high and long or short and low to Torrey Smith. Cam Cameron didn’t have separation issues or troubles finding holes in the running attack. Cam Cameron didn’t let Ben Grubbs walk away last offseason.

Cam Cameron calls plays. Now Jim Caldwell will probably call a lot of the same plays.

This Broncos game can now be deemed a “must-win” game given the Ravens’ stated desire to have a first-round bye that was looking so likely eight mornings ago when they were 9-2 and coming off a heady, miraculous win in San Diego.

Perhaps Caldwell was headed to the open market in a few weeks to become an offensive coordinator or even a head coach in the coming weeks? Maybe Cameron and Harbaugh had a falling out? How involved did Steve Bisciotti get last night after an embarrassing loss in D.C.?

Feel free to speculate away because you will anyway…

But however you slice it, it’s a very radical move this morning by John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens organization.

Sometimes these things take root and championships are won.

And sometimes, it’s the first chair off the Titanic..

Harbaugh will be asked a lot of questions. He will wish Cam Cameron well. And in six days the Denver Broncos are coming to town to play a team that clearly hit the panic button this morning.

Harbaugh won’t call it the panic button and would berate me if I asked him that question but I’m not sure that under any circumstance that this is the desired pathway for a Super Bowl team.

His brother Jim Harbaugh endured heavy media and fan heat three weeks ago for changing starting quarterbacks while in first place. Now, in the midst of December with a 9-4 team flailing in many phases of the game and after the defense and special teams floundered in D.C. with the game (and a lead) in the balance, John Harbaugh has guillotined his offensive coordinator with three games left on the 2012 calendar.

I always laugh when the fans scream to fire the coach or bench the QB in the middle of any season.

It looks like John Harbaugh has finally succumbed after hearing the chants of the radicals and fired his O.C. on a Monday morning.

Some of you finally got what you wanted – heads to roll when the team is 9-4.

 

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Ravens fans vs. Orioles fans – are we two birds of a different feather?

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Ravens fans vs. Orioles fans – are we two birds of a different feather?

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It goes without saying that Baltimore isn’t quite yet embracing this 2012 version of Baltimore Orioles pennant fever. No matter how dramatic the victories or how unlikely this late August run for postseason glory seems, nothing about The Birds has moved the sports fans of Maryland.

Even into the great beyond via the long reach of MASN – not to mention the reach into your pockets every month like a public utility – for whatever reason people aren’t coming back in droves to give King Peter Angelos their money to watch the likes of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and even boy wonder Manny Machado, who has been worth the price of admission alone this week.

Oh, I know I’m being “Negative Nestor” by even writing this blog when the Orioles are winning baseball games and on the verge of a sweep of the hated Boston Red Sox. But every time the TV cameras pan the more than half-empty stadium, I can’t help but thinking the same thing you’re thinking: “I wonder why people aren’t going to Camden Yards to support this winning team?”

Yeah, we all thought Camden Yards would be packed once the Orioles started winning. And as the team closes a 10-game homestand tonight in full control of a wild card berth and still within striking distance of the New York Yankees, a true “pennant fever” atmosphere has yet to emerge in Baltimore.

It seems that a few months of prosperity hasn’t wiped out 14 years of bad vibes, bad baseball, steroid needles, lies from the owner and the emergence of the Washington Nationals as the regional team with marketing legs and, dare we say, “Natitude.”

And here’s where we’ll piss off both side of the Baltimore fence.

I have one question for you: “Are you excited about the Baltimore Ravens’ upcoming season?”

My gut is that you just yelled, “YES!”

My gut also says that your neighbor is excited, your cousins, your co-workers, the folks in your social group – wherever your friends and loved ones reside — they’re ready to don purple and are counting down the minutes until the 7 p.m. kickoff on Monday, Sept. 10 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

I’m not sure when it became sort of fashionable to only support one of the two teams in Baltimore and perhaps for the younger generation there has never been a good time to embrace the Orioles. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ready for Ravens’ season and that my love for the purple guys has superseded my spirit and energy for the Orioles. But I do love them both. And I will support them both equally for what it means for Baltimore to have a winning sports team and a chance to hang red, white and blue bunting here in October.

And, somehow during this emergence of the purple birds of Baltimore since 1996, this weird kind of divide has occurred here in the Charm City where some folks only have enough “love” – if not dollars and time and energy – for one of the two teams.

Do you know people who love the Orioles and have no use for football or the Ravens? Almost to the point where they root against the purple birds in football season?

I do.

And, conversely, from what I can tell there are a myriad of people everywhere around town who are fervent Baltimore Ravens fans and have long-since given up following the Orioles on a nightly basis, even now that the team on the field is representative of the community’s desire for hard work, overachieving and beating the Yankees and Red Sox.

I know many, many people who have purple “Man Caves” – an entire kingdom and closets dedicated to all things Baltimore Ravens. There are whole stores like The Raven Zone dedicated to selling merchandise year-round.

I don’t know anyone who has a basement that is an homage to the Orioles these days, despite the fact that you get 162 chances to enjoy games vs. just 16 that count.

I also admit that the amount of hours necessary to follow the Orioles is extraordinary. It’s a lifestyle commitment to watch four hours of baseball six nights a week for six months. It’s almost like a full-time job if you’re going to vest into MLB fandom.

And certainly this isn’t a new phenomenon for sports teams anywhere in America. It seems that there’s plenty of love for all four sports teams in places like Boston, Philadelphia, etc. where the seasons and the reasons all seem to blur together into a full calendar of activity and passion.

But it might be time to ask, “Where’s the emotional investment for Baltimore fans?”

Is it possible that you only have room in your heart — or wallet — for one successful local team?

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Flacco says week makes big difference for style of Ravens offense

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Flacco says week makes big difference for style of Ravens offense

Posted on 20 November 2011 by WNST Staff

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Want Some reasons to be Sleepless in Seattle?

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Want Some reasons to be Sleepless in Seattle?

Posted on 13 November 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Based solely on the Ravens’ Jeckyl and Hyde performances all season long, I’m of the opinion that no one should be perceived as overconfident today as the purple warriors awaken in Seattle with a chance to end the day as the unquestioned leader of the pack in the AFC home-field advantage race.

Oh sure, there are plenty of reasons to feel confidence brimming now the Ravens have swept the dreaded Pittsburgh Steelers and are in control of their own destiny as the Bengals will next try to vanquish the black and gold demons in the early game today as Baltimore awaits the Seahawks at 4 p.m.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t smell a difficult task in Seattle, where the legendary “12th Man” will be appearing soon after kickoff to welcome Joe Flacco and Cam Cameron’s crew to the Pacific Northwest.

Afterall, I was in attendance in Nashville and Jacksonville where the locals all but guaranteed us a happy trip into the deep South and almost-home-cooking that resulted in two of the most dreadful and disappointing outcomes in recent years – especially considering the desperate talent on  both sides of the ball. The Titans and Jaguars are headed toward nowheresville in January but for one afternoon they defended their home turf and thwarted every effort of Flacco and the Ravens’ offense.

The Seahawks appear to be short on the offensive side of the ball — is there any way they can really lose to Tarvaris Jackson? — and many have asked how they’re going to score points today at Century Link Field against a stout Baltimore defense but I will remain at best “cautiously enthusiastic” about the Ravens’ offense until I some semblance of consistency.

That begins today at 4 p.m.

Can Joe Flacco find open receivers downfield? Will the running game with Ray Rice and Ricky Williams be established early to quiet the mounting green and blue cacophony of sounds? Will the offensive line be off cadence all day and create bad down and distances?

Will the defense keep Marshawn Lynch at bay in the running game and can the defense force its usual array of turnovers and pressures on a young, inexperience Seahawks’ offense?

All good questions.

We’ll have answers at 4 p.m.

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Ray Lewis tells Nestor he respects fans who boo Ravens for poor play

Posted on 30 October 2011 by WNST Staff

Ray Lewis has heard every cheer — and jeer — in Ravens history. Today’s boos were the loudest and today’s comeback was the greatest in purple history. Here’s what Ray told Nestor about the sounds of displeasure of Baltimore fans:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjEuP3a9KuE[/youtube]

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Ravens ride Flacco’s hot arm in 2nd half to pull out 30-27 win over Cardinals

Posted on 30 October 2011 by Drew Forrester

If the Ravens somehow work their way through the AFC in January and wind up in the Super Bowl, there’s little doubt that most people will point to the 2nd half of Sunday’s win over Arizona as the turning point.

Baltimore – trailing 24-6 at the intermission – was 30 minutes of bad football away from falling to the lowly Cardinals and dropping to 4-3 with a looming visit to Pittsburgh in seven days time.

And then Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin went to work, the visitors folded like a cheap suit in the 3rd quarter, and the Ravens got a last second field goal from Billy Cundiff to pull off a 30-27 win.

It wasn’t pretty.

But it was way better than losing.

Flacco and the offense spent most of the first half in a state of confusion, as the offensive line turned in a putrid opening 30 minutes and a bunch of mistakes in every facet of the game helped the Cardinals to a shocking 24-3 lead.  The defense surrendered a long pass play to Larry Fitzgerald, Flacco fumbled the ball on his own 2 yard line and Patrick Peterson returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown — all in the first half.  Three mistakes and an 18-point deficit.

But a funny thing happened on the way to what would have been a stunning home defeat.

The old Cardinals team showed up, the one that is now 1-6 on the season and headed nowhere fast.

And the Ravens offense came to life, thanks in part to the no-huddle scheme, a whopper of a 2nd half from Anquan Boldin and much better pass protection from an offensive line that was staggering in the first two quarters.

If ever Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco needed thirty minutes of redemption, it was on Sunday afternoon.

Cameron got in the act by making a subtle but important change to start the 3rd quarter.  He had Flacco use the short pass to eat up yards, with the two tight ends getting most of the work along with Boldin, who made several spectacular catches along the sideline.

Flacco finished the day 31-for-51 with 336 yards, but it was his 2nd half play that gave the fans reason to smile.  After going 12-for-23 in the opening half (98 yards), the 4th year quarterback piled up big 2nd half numbers, throwing for 238 yards (19-for-28) and using Boldin time after time as the Cardinals couldn’t find an answer for the Pro Bowl receiver.  Flacco also made good use of Dennis Pitta (career-high 6 receptions), Ed Dickson (6) and Torrey Smith (3), with Smith’s 25-yard collection in the final minute of the game putting Baltimore in game-winning field goal territory.

It was closer than most people expected, but 5-2 is still 5-2.

And it certainly sends Baltimore to Pittsburgh for next week’s showdown with the Steelers in a much better frame of mind.

The Jacksonville loss was hard enough to swallow.

A home defeat to the Cardinals would have officially ignited a stage of panic in these parts.

As it is, there are still plenty of concerns at the 7-game mark, most notably a horribly inconsistent Baltimore offensive line that has seemingly gotten worse over the last three weeks.

The special teams haven’t been very special.

And the defense, while ranked #1 in the league prior to Sunday’s game, has been somewhat susceptible against the run over the last three games.

It all adds up to a good Ravens team that still has people wondering…which is the REAL Ravens — the one that fell behind 24-6 in the first half on Sunday?  Or the one that pulled off a great win with a stunning 2nd half offensive outburst?

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