Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston answers a selection of reader questions about the Ravens' 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday.
Andy in Hagerstown: I've been on board with Joe Flacco and this coaching staff, but I am off the bandwagon. There is something seriously systemically wrong with how this organization coaches offense. I don't see Flacco being capable of winning the big game. Do you think the Ravens would consider firing Cam Cameron and not extending Joe, blowing this up and starting over at QB and coordinator?
Mike Preston: If this offense doesn't improve, Cameron will be fired at the end of the season. He is aware of that and under enormous pressure to succeed. As for Flacco, he won't get a big deal from the Ravens if he continues to disappoint. The bat phone from owner Steve Bisciotti's house to The Castle had to be buzzing Tuesday morning. That was the most inept offensive performance in Ravens history. Bisciotti has to be thinking "we fired this guy (Jim Zorn) and this guy (John Matsko), drafted a franchise quarterback, signed Lee Evans and Vonta Leach, drafted Torrey Smith, cut Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, and the best I can get before a Monday night national television audience is this?"
Regardless of how great any defense is -- and Jacksonville didn't remind anyone of The Steel Curtain -- there has to be a way to unlock it and the Ravens had no answers. They just trying the same old silly stuff. I've seen high school offenses play with more creativity. The showing by the offense on Monday night was an embarrassment to the organization.
Joe of Bel Air: How much does Flacco miss having a QB coach such as Hue Jackson or Jim Zorn? There is no doubt he seems to have regressed this year in all aspects of his game. Just seems as though Joe has no rapport at all with Cam Cameron and the whole offense has suffered.
Mike Preston: Joe, no more excuses for Flacco. One year he struggles because he is too young. One year he struggles because the offensive line can't block. And then it's because his receivers are too old and can't get separation. And now, it's because of Cam Cameron. If I hear one more excuse, I will pull out what is left of my hair. There are no more excuses. A quarterback in his fourth year should not be as inconsistent as Flacco. He needs to be accountable just as much as everyone else involved with this offense. He either steps up, or he should step out.
There are no more excuses for anyone.
Zane: If the Ravens start slow against the Cardinals, do you pull Flacco for Tyrod Taylor?
Mike Preston: No, it's Flacco's job to lose now and for the rest of the season. If he plays well by the end of the season, he stays and gets a new contract. If he doesn't, goodbye. They made a commitment to Flacco, now stick with it until the end of the season.
Joseph: Was that the worst officiated game you ever saw?
Mike Preston: The officiating stunk almost as bad as the Ravens offense. You'd figure this would have been a great crew because it was on Monday Night Football, but a lot of their calls were overturned in instant replay. The penalty on Bernard Pollard was an absolute joke, and how often do you see a player (Brendon Ayanbadejo) get ejected because of a quick smack to the helmet during a confrontation?
The zebras didn't bring their A game, and their ineptness made it even tougher to watch the game.
Richard K. in Overlea: When will the Ravens learn how to manage the clock and utilize the "no-huddle offense?" It was absolutely frustrating to see the offense casually walk up to the line with three minutes left in the game. Well, the entire game was frustrating!
Mike Preston: Richard, last week I wrote that clock or time management was one of the areas John Harbaugh needed to work on most. He strongly disagreed, but if I presented the game film of Monday night's game in a court of law, I would win easily. Not only did they walk to the line of scrimmage, but Flacco appeared slow in getting the proper instruction from the bench or the head phones. I've seen that numerous times since Harbaugh has been coach.
It's unfortunate because this team, at least in training camp when we're allowed to watch practice, does a lot of situational work with the offense. But it seems to get lost during the transition to game day.
Michael B.: In what universe does a team with Ray Rice only give him eight carries and eight passes? It looks to me that instead of accepting that our best player is Ray Rice and forming a game plan around that, we insist on forcing that label on Joe Flacco.
Mike Preston: It's called the Twilight Zone.
You're preaching to the choir here, Michael. I've been advocating that Rice needs to touch the ball between 25-to-35 times a game in some capacity, but the Ravens want to preach balance. It's OK to preach balance, but there comes a time when you need to know what your bread and butter is, and the Ravens haven't figured it out yet. Flacco, though, has to be able to find another weapon when Rice is covered or taken out of the game.
You always have a Plan A, and then B & C if necessary. A major problem with the Ravens is that they sometimes out-think themselves. They pass when they should have run. They onside kick instead of showing patience. They kick field goals when they need touchdowns.
Football isn't a hard game. Coaches in the NFL make it harder when a lot of decisions should be based on common sense.
Lea in White Marsh: With good individuals on the offensive line, why haven't they turned into a good group? Their blocking was atrocious against Jacksonville. The Jags didn't need to blitz because they were getting pressure with only four linemen. Is this a player problem or a coaching problem?
Mike Preston: By the second half, Jacksonville was getting pressure with four or five players, much like Tennessee did against the Ravens. The blocking problems aren't the result of poor coaching, but players losing one-on-one matchups. Except for right guard Marshal Yanda, the Ravens have underperformed most of the season. The absence of left guard Ben Grubbs because of a toe injury has hurt, but the performance of both offensive tackles has been disappointing. We knew the offensive line would be a work in progress during the 2011 season, but we haven't seen a lot of progress.
Tripod in Naples, Fla.: This was probably the worst game I've seen since the Brian Billick era. Are we going to do ANYTHING to learn from this loss and try to build on it? Or are we going to keep making the SAME mistakes we've been making for the last three years, and be the same caliber team as the Cowboys, or Chargers, or Jets, with ALL the potential in the world, but NEVER managing to put it all together?
Mike Preston: If this offense continues to play poorly, I guarantee you changes will be made. Watching the Ravens offense is like watching another episode of "I Love Lucy" -- you know the outcome and the punch lines, and it's just not fun to watch anymore.
Jim Nataro: The most interesting and important question about the Ravens is why they have managed to be a poor offensive team over more than a decade, despite changing coaches, assistant coaches, quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, offensive lines, etc. Is this a curse like the Red Sox and Cubs? Fascinating ...
Mike Preston: Fascinating? I have a better word: Frustrating. Very, very frustrating.