Tag Archive | "offensive coordinator"


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Chapter 16: I love you – and I mean it!

Posted on 27 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio





“If you ask me to give you three words to describe this team, I’ll use three that Ray Lewis used a few weeks ago: faith, hope and love. Those are biblical words, but those are probably the three most important words in the English language. Faith in each other and in whatever greater thing you believe. Always hopeful. You can be discouraged, but there is no such thing as being disheartened. Love is what holds the universe together. It’s a selflessness that you put others before yourself. That’s the ultimate team quality. We’ll need a lot of all three to get us where we want to go.”

– John Harbaugh (December 2012)





AFTER A THIRD CONSECUTIVE LOSS in the NFL, if there’s not some palpable tension in the air then you’ve probably got a football team that’s far too comfortable.

Head coach John Harbaugh’s tireless optimism and foundational principles would be tested with the New York Giants coming to town in Week 16 and the home crowd coming back to the stadium after booing and exiting early in the shellacking by the Denver Broncos.

Harbaugh’s core, old-fashioned philosophies about faith, hope and love were drilled into the team in this time of adversity. For the most part, the media didn’t believe. The fans were restless, and the team was that had been 9-2 with dreams of a bye and an AFC Championship home game was a mere shadow of its former self. Now they were just trying to make the playoffs at 9-5 while staring down the defending champs on Christmas weekend, knowing that Cincinnati would be playing to get into the playoffs the following weekend. The losing streak would’ve been four games had it not been for a 4th & 29 miracle in San Diego.

Make no mistake about it, the Ravens were not playing well, and they weren’t healthy.

Sure, Harbaugh used the “us vs. them” mentality and also said that people outside the building didn’t believe. But that only goes so far if the core philosophy isn’t grounded in self-belief and integrity in the work ethic that backs it up.

Harbaugh’s enthusiasm is tireless, and his optimism never ceases. In the first year, many players found it almost hokey, corny in many ways. But it’s what John Harbaugh believes and what his family has preached for his half century on the planet.

Let’s be honest: “Who’s got it better than us?” is implicit in its optimism, right?

His father’s famous refrain, which his brother Jim had adopted with the San Francisco 49ers, and made famous – “Who’s got it better than us?” – with the retort, “Nobody!” had almost become part of the NFL vernacular.

It assumes happiness and steadfastly conveys success and gratitude. And if you woke up and said it every morning – and more importantly, really believed it – you would also be eternally optimistic.

That’s the faith and hope part of the equation.

The love was probably the easiest sell on his players. It’s hard to find a John Harbaugh speech or press conference where he doesn’t convey the value of “team” and “sticking together” as core values. The friendships that had sprung from battling together

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If Harbaugh wants to get a real rise out of people, he should interview his Dad

Posted on 17 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

It dawned on me driving in to WNST this morning that I don’t have anything for you…in terms of Drew’s Morning Dish.


The Ravens interviewed someone yesterday for their Offensive Coordinator position but we don’t know who it was or how it went.  I’m guessing that happened, of course.  I don’t know for certain they interviewed someone, but I’m figuring they did, right?  John Harbaugh’s grandfather passed away earlier this week so there’s a chance he wasn’t available to interview anyone yesterday.

Speaking of the Harbaugh family, if John had any sense of humor at all, he would leak out to the media that he’s thinking about interviewing his Dad, Jack, for the vacant Offensive Coordinator position.  Harbaugh, of course, is accused by people who don’t know better that “all he does is hire his friends” — so what better way to have fun with those goofs than leaking out that he’s considering an interview for his father?  Hilarious…

The Orioles didn’t sign anyone of note yesterday.  Actually, they haven’t signed someone of note in years.  There’s a rumor floating around they’re trying to arm-twist right handed pitcher Bronson Arroyo into coming to Baltimore to finish up his career getting battered in the American League.  No offense to Arroyo at all – who, by the way, is one helluva guitar player and singer…don’t believe me?  Check out THIS VIDEO right here – because he’s been pretty decent in Cincinnati, but if Drew were providing him with career advice I’d tell him to stay in the National League.

Sidenote: Arroyo is the show’s Friday Featured Artist today.  At this point, he might be a better musician that pitcher.

If you’ve listened to the show this week, you already know what I think is going to happen on the football field this Sunday.

New England wins at Denver — 30-26

San Francisco wins at Seattle — 23-17

Have a great weekend!

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Doesn’t matter who the Ravens new OC is…you’re not going to like him

Posted on 15 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

This will be short and sweet.

As the Ravens begin their search for an offensive coordinator, this much, I know to be true.

No matter who they hire, nearly all of you will eventually want that guy fired.  And it won’t take long.  That’s how Baltimore has rolled all the way back to the days of Matt Cavanaugh.  The honest truth — Ravens fans haven’t ever really liked an offensive coordinator.

I could go into all the reasons why this is so, pointing to things like Fantasy Football, Madden and other associated football video games and the constant breaking down of film on TV sports shows on the NFL Network, ESPN, etc.

That said, even taking into account all of those things I listed above, it won’t matter here in Baltimore.  You guys (and gals) won’t like the “new one” twelve months from now.

“But Drew, what if the team wins and the offense is good next season?”

It won’t matter.

The team went to the playoffs for five straight seasons, went to three AFC title games and won a Super Bowl and, somehow, the Head Coach of the team sucks according to a lot of you.

When the Ravens win, it’s in spite of Harbaugh — that’s what some of you think.

When the Ravens lose, it’s because Harbaugh finally got exposed — you also think that.

Well, the same thing will most certainly happen with the new Offensive Coordinator.  You won’t like him, either.

How do I know that?

Because you’ve proved that over the last decade or so.

It’s never good enough.

If the Ravens score 35 points, but lose, you’ll still cry about the 3rd and 2 they didn’t get on the 11 yard line when they threw a swing pass to Ray Rice that he short-armed.

If they score 35 points, and win, you’ll forget that the following week when they score 20 and lose.

A lot of you have displayed an amazingly short memory when it comes to the football team in town and how exceptional they’ve really been in the John Harbaugh era.

If only you held the Orioles to the same standard.



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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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Won and Done Raven – Jim Caldwell

Posted on 26 February 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

The Ravens and their fans find themselves in the awkward, yet fortunate, position of trying to celebrate the achievements of last year’s team for all that they accomplished, while also turning one eye toward the future and figuring out what types of adjustments will be necessary to remain competitive and to possibly make another Super Bowl run. So far, all of that talk has seemingly begun and ended with the speculation about Joe Flacco’s contract. Until that matter is resolved, the Ravens will have a tough time making any other decisions about their future, as the salary cap is wholly undetermined until that time.

Reflection on the convergence of circumstances that led to the Ravens improbable playoff run and Super Bowl victory would be difficult to believe if we hadn’t witnessed it with our own eyes. For all of the tremendous and heart wrenching storylines that unfolded around the team, it was a difficult decision made at a difficult time that seemed to have the biggest impact on the team’s ultimate success. Parting company with long time Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, and replacing him with Quarterbacks Coach Jim Caldwell was likely the biggest of the numerous catalysts to the Ravens success.


Since that time, Cameron has probably shouldered an unfair amount of the blame. It’s tough to indict Cameron’s offense as the cause of all of the Ravens problems without at least giving him some credit for the foundation he built under those guys. And Caldwell has probably gotten an overstated amount of credit too. It’s unlikely that whatever it was that the Ravens were lacking under Cameron, was taught to them by Caldwell in just about 2 ½ weeks before crunch time was upon them. Make no mistake though, without the change being made, the season probably plays out much differently and the Ravens probably aren’t the Super Bowl champions.


What we have seen from the Caldwell led offense has been enough to have fans giddy with anticipation over what next year might be for this offense. It also has to have the Ravens concerned about the potential of their OC being a lame duck.


John Harbaugh’s ride as Ravens Head Coach has been an interesting one to say the least. As a former Special Teams Coordinator, Harbaugh is typically (and unfairly) seen as a master of neither offense nor defense. Therefore, when fans have praise or criticism to dole out on one side of the ball or the other, it usually bypasses the Head Coach and falls directly to his coordinators. This has been (mostly) a convenient position for Harbaugh.


One thing that can’t be denied is that Harbaugh’s confidence has outpaced his experience since his arrival in Baltimore and has been an essential part of his success as well. While most guys given head coaching opportunities, for the first time ever, at the NFL level have seemed to go out of their way to clear out any coaches from their supporting staff with NFL head coaching experience, Harbaugh has embraced these types.


In his first season as Head Coach, Harbaugh’s staff featured Cameron, vanquished from Miami, Jim Zorn, fresh off a head coaching stint with the Redskins, and Rex Ryan, with whom he competed for the Ravens top job. In business, top managers and CEOs have been called wise for embracing a willingness to surround themselves with people smarter than themselves in the areas that those people are hired to preside over. Harbaugh has done this at the NFL level and done it successfully. Welcoming Jim Caldwell as QB Coach last season was further evidence of that philosophy.


Another aspect of the Ravens success, one that precedes Harbaugh, on the defensive side of the ball has been the practice of promoting from within. The downside of dominant defense has been the tendency of other teams to scalp defensive coaches from the Ravens. The lineage of Ravens Defensive Coordinators, going back to Marvin Lewis, has always entailed replacing the departing coach with someone already on staff and already familiar with the language, tendencies and philosophies that made the last coach successful. The Ravens would do well to make that happen on the offense too. The question becomes whether or not that candidate is already on staff.


Make no mistake about it; with his influence over the Ravens post-season run, Jim Caldwell has made himself a hot commodity once again. It’d be fair to suggest that Caldwell is already at the top of most head coaching wish lists for 2014. Couple that with “Rooney Rule” requirements and the vocal disappointment of the league over no opportunities given to minority head coaches this year, and Caldwell is all but gone barring an offensive catastrophe for the Ravens in 2013.


So while the Ravens haven’t always felt compelled to have a QB coach on staff, it would seem imperative not only to find one for 2013, but moreover to find one that they’d feel comfortable grooming to succeed Caldwell when he likely rides off into the sunset for a head coaching gig after next season.



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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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Canning Cameron is Probably Not the Answer

Posted on 04 December 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

In the wake of the Ravens loss on Sunday, the “Fire Cam Cameron” mob is once again fashioning their torches and sharpening their pitchforks. To anyone who’s been watching this team over the 4+ years that are the John Harbaugh / Cam Cameron era it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, it was Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti who himself helped to fuel and to further this conversation by declaring “Cam under fire” following the 2010 season. Although Cameron seemed to survive his “under fire” season of a year ago and despite the fact that the Ravens found themselves within an eyelash of a Super Bowl appearance last year, the “fire Cameron” crowd is growing in size and urgency by the day.

At this point it might be fair to ask, if fans and even the owner perceive Cameron as a liability, then why hasn’t John Harbaugh seen it too? Is Harbaugh simply loyal to a fault and to the detriment of the team or might there be more to the situation than meets the eye?


When the Ravens brought Cameron in to run their offense I was opposed to the move. I was opposed on the grounds that in just one year he had overseen a near mutiny (to use a familiar term) taking place on his Dolphins team but that wasn’t even my biggest beef. The bigger issue that I had with Cameron related to his time in San Diego. It was easy to see first that both Drew Brees and Philip Rivers seemed to flourish when removed from Cameron’s system. In Brees’ case, Cameron and the San Diego staff failed not only to utilize his talents to their fullest potential, but they failed to even give him much of a shot. After one year at the helm of the Chargers offense, Brees was benched in favor of Doug Flutie and then saw the team draft his replacement in Rivers shortly thereafter. And while all of the aforementioned was troubling, that still wasn’t my biggest concern with Cam Cameron running the offense.


My issue, or expectation of the Cameron offense was based on something much simpler. During his time at the helm of the Chargers, it seemed that Cameron’s offense did everything over the middle of the field. Despite San Diego’s tendency to stock their receiving corps with big and physical pass catchers, there was absolutely no effort made to utilize them outside of the hash marks. With “up the middle” talent like Antonio Gates and LaDanian Tomlinson, it’s easy to understand why this was the philosophy but still worth mentioning that essentially ignoring the outsides of the field made things easier for opposing defenses.


Now fast-forward to and through Cameron’s first 4+ seasons in Baltimore and the exact opposite is true. It seems that here, Cameron’s offense only operates outside of the numbers and does nothing over the middle. When assessing the personnel at hand, again it’s easy to understand why. The Ravens lack the middle of the field “power forwards” that so many teams have begun to put to use in creating mismatches over the middle. The Ravens seem to lack confidence in their pass catchers and therefore look at balls off the fingertips outside as likely to go out of bounds while balls off the fingertips over the middle are more likely to find their way into the arms of waiting safeties.



Having the benefit of a strong armed quarterback in Joe Flacco who’s easily able to flick balls outside of the numbers and more than willing to check down to Ray Rice when those options aren’t there, it seems that Cameron’s offense is once again allowing opposing defenses the luxury of not having to account for the whole field. He’s gone from a guy who ran nothing outside of the hash marks to a guy who now runs everything outside the hash marks.


On one hand he could be applauded for adapting his game plans to suit his personnel, but on the other hand he’s a guy who has consistently allowed defenses the luxury of not exactly knowing what’s coming, but at least of being able to rule out a number of things that aren’t coming. For these reasons, it’s my opinion that Cameron should be under fire. But…

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