By Matt Vensel
11:30 AM EST, December 11, 2012
This feature appears every week on the Baltimore Sports Blitz. It’s just like “What They’re Saying About the Ravens,” but it includes blogger Matt Vensel saying something about what those people are saying. Got it?
--- Jason Cole of Yahoo! says keeping Joe Flacco happy meant the Ravens had to get rid of Cam Cameron.
“While there are some people who will debate the veracity of keeping Flacco happy, the truth is that it's a lot harder to find a good quarterback than an offensive coordinator,” he wrote. “[The first-place Ravens] spent almost a decade looking for someone to build around at quarterback. They went through Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Kyle Boller and Steve McNair without finding a long-term solution. Baltimore wasted years with one of the greatest defenses in the history of the game, winning only one Super Bowl largely because it lacked a great triggerman on offense. While it's hard to call Flacco great just yet, he's on a pretty good path. To junk him would be an outrageous gamble. So instead, do your best to make him happy.”
Matt’s take: As I wrote yesterday in our Instant Analysis of the coaching change, it was my belief that his relationship with Flacco and the development of the quarterback was a much bigger deal than the workload of Ray Rice and head-scratching play-calling. Those are important, no doubt, but the fact that Flacco appears to have flat-lined his development necessitated a move, whether it was now or after the season ended.
--- Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com said both the decision to fire Cameron and the timing of the move were right.
“If Harbaugh already had decided (perhaps with a nudge from owner Steve Bisciotti) that Cameron wasn’t coming back next season, why wait until after the season? That makes no sense,” he wrote. “If Jim Caldwell was going to be the offensive coordinator next season, he should be the guy calling the plays for the final three games and the playoffs. The Ravens are too talented on offense to rank No. 18 in the league right now.”
Matt’s take: I defended Cameron in the first half of the season even though at that point the offense was not showing up at all on the road. The reason was that I felt that Cameron and his coaching staff deserved praise for opening up the offense with three-wide sets and the no-huddle. More often than not in the first few games, the Ravens offense was indeed explosive. But it has fizzled of late, and the inconsistent play of the Ravens offense was not instilling confidence for a long playoff run. Caldwell has his work cut out for him, but he has three weeks to tweak the offense and get it back on track for the playoffs. That’s enough time to get hot again.
--- Chris Burke of SI.com believes the timing of Cameron’s firing reeks of desperation.
“A move made out of desperation or a long-overdue change? That’s the quandary around the Baltimore Ravens after they axed offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Monday, one day after a difficult overtime loss to Washington,” he wrote. “Even with an uneven offense, the Ravens currently sit at 9-4 and hold a two-game lead in the AFC North. So, how Baltimore finishes down the stretch and in the playoffs will issue a pretty clear verdict on how successful this major coaching staff move was.”
Matt’s take: Desperate? This mess has been accumulating for years, not just the past two weeks. The Ravens need to right their ship in a hurry, and they will have to do it with treacherous waters ahead. The Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals are all playing for something. The ship hasn't sunk yet, though, which is why I don’t see throwing Cam overboard as an act of desperation. The Ravens usually don't do desperate.
--- Clark Judge of CBS Sports heard Cameron’s “vanilla” play-calling was a factor in the firing as well.
“People close to the club tell me that Cameron and Joe Flacco didn't exactly see eye to eye, and that's an understatement, and that questions abounded over the consistency as well as the substance of the play-calling,” he wrote. “I've heard too many critics describe what Baltimore runs as ‘vanilla,’ and I don't know if that's an indictment of Cameron. But I do know it was a factor in a move that is surprising only because of its timing.”
Matt’s take: I have heard those critics, too, the ones who say the game has passed Cameron by. And I haven’t forgotten one of the Houston Texans players using the “vanilla” word to describe the Ravens offense after the AFC divisional round win a year ago. Vanilla can work if you put a plan together that is simple but plays perfectly to the strengths of your players. But too often it felt as if Cameron was just out-thinking himself.
--- John Eisenberg of BaltimoreRavens.com said the bulls-eye is now squarely on Flacco going forward.
“I can’t blame Harbaugh for making the move. The offense is 16th in passing, 17th in rushing and ranked near the bottom of the league in time of possession. It was the same old story, blah, blah, blah. Barring a major reversal, Cameron probably was gone after this season anyway,” he wrote. “Now Joe Flacco -- another target of fan criticism -- sits alone at the top of the responsibility chart.”
Matt’s take: Joe’s biggest excuse is now gone. We are going to find out if Cam deserved the burden of blame.
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