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Ravens Q&A; with Mike Preston

Each week, Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston answers a selection of reader questions. This week, Preston discusses Cam Cameron's statement from last week in which he said the offense's issues from the Steelers' game would be fixed for the Texans' game, why the Ravens stall in the second half, whether Joe Flacco is developing as a quarterback and more.

MDLVRMuncher: "In 25-plus years, I have never seen that happen, and it showed up at the worst possible time it could have, and it's my job to catch that flaw. That flaw has been corrected. Next time you see a guy unblocked in that protection, it'll be where the quarterback's expecting it to be unblocked." Cam Cameron on 12/10/10. Explain how it happened again with 1:43 left in the second quarter on 12/13/10. Obviously he didn't come up with the right scheme or Michael Oher isn't listening.

Mike Preston: Man, I like your style. You jammed it right back at Cameron in his own words. I can't explain why they can't block a blitzing safety. Stupidity. Ignorance. I could see if it was physical and someone was getting beat. But the Ravens out and out don't send anyone to block him. I give up. I really try to see the logic in some things they do, but I can't answer that one. Well, not in public anyway cause the answer might get right nasty.

Doug: As I watch the Ravens offense get shutout in the second half, I think Hue Jackson is a missing ingredient in the 2010 Ravens' offense. Your thoughts?

Mike Preston: Hue had a great relationship with Joe Flacco, and was the liaison between Flacco and Cameron. Now, there isn't one. As for the offense, Hue had very little input on the offense here which is why he wanted to get out of Baltimore. But maybe the Ravens should have listened to Jackson more because he has done a good job in Oakland as the Raiders offensive coordinator. I think at times Flacco misses his partnership with Jackson, but it appears he is getting help from backup Marc Bulger.

Patrick Simple question. Ravens ball. Third and 2. Eight-point lead. Under 3 minutes left. Cam Cameron calls a PASS. Why????

Mike Preston: Simple answer: It was an indictment of the offensive line. They stunk up the field. The defense wasn't any better either. They couldn't stop the Texans. I don't have a problem with the pass play, I do question sending Anquan Boldin on a 2-yard route when the Texans' cornerbacks were some of the worst in the NFL.

Steve: After another poorly coached game, do you think that Cameron is on the hot seat?

Mike Preston: Oh, I will say there is a little flame under his butt right now. In all fairness, we should let this season play out and see how the Ravens finish. If the offense continues to falter, I think owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome have to take a hard look at Cameron, and re-evaluate some things, and how they are done. They've invested first-round draft picks and big-money free agents in this offense for the 2010 season, and have gotten little back on the investment. Sure, the Ravens can feel good about being 9-4, but there aren't many people over at The Castle feeling good about this offense, or the performance of the defense Monday night.

Justin: Is Le'Ron McClain still hampered by injury or did Cam just choose not to use him very much on Monday Night? I feel like this is the guy you hand the ball to if you have a lead and the back which serves you best with offensive line issues, but after the team had a lead in the second half, I rarely saw him on the field.

Mike Preston: I thought McClain looked a little rusty, especially in some of his pass blocking. Ankle injuries are very common in the NFL, but some take longer to heal than others. I thought McClain would play, but I didn't expect him to carry a big workload against Houston. I think that will change Sunday against the Saints and we'll see more of McClain.

Brian: Mike do the Ravens make adjustments at half time? Why are they *so* bad -- on both sides of the ball -- after halftime? Are they being scouted out? Are they just old?

Mike Preston: Brian, I'll answer you question in a quick nutshell. Yes, they are scouted and most teams go back over four to six weeks of game film. Yes, they are tired and old, and it showed Monday night. Halftime adjustments? I'm sure they make some, but none that are noticeable, or make a major impact on the game. The one clear adjustment that we see is that once the Ravens get a nice lead, they like to gear down the offense, especially in the second half. And that my friend, usually starts in the third quarter, and that's way too early.

James: Given the fact that our linebackers are horrid in coverage, why must we continually suffer through Greg Mattison using them in coverage while only rushing linemen?

Mike Preston: James, that's not true. But, I do know what you are seeing. In an effort to change up the defense, Mattison will occasionally drop Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson into coverage. Because the pass rush has been so inconsistent this season, fans sometimes get frustrated when they see Suggs dropping into coverage. I admit I have asked myself a couple of times this season, "Suggs is the only legitimate pass rusher on this team and having a great season getting to the quarterback. Why, why, why, is he dropping into coverage?" I understand that defenses have to change, and I have no problem with Johnson covering the flat. But on every down, I would have Suggs somewhere near the line of scrimmage, not dropping into zone coverage. The Steelers can do that with James Harrison because they have LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu who can bring the heat. The Ravens only have Suggs.

Curb J: It seems they will be one and done if they make playoffs or knocked out in the second round. Is it coaching or maybe just flat out bad execution from players that they can't get that killer instinct? I feel if the Patriots were playing, the game would have been over by half time.

Mike Preston: You are frustrated with the Ravens and their playing style. I understand your pain. I was at that point weeks ago, but not any longer. It is what it is, and the Ravens' aren't going to get much better. They could be one and done in the first round, or they could win the Super Bowl. I wouldn't bet on that happening, but you never know with this group. A lot of people want to point a finger at Cam Cameron, but the Ravens have a lot of issues. Flacco hasn't improved that much from a year ago, and the offensive line is struggling. Ray Lewis is no longer what he used to be, and Ed Reed is trying to play through injuries. The defense lacks one or two play makers, and the head coach needs to step up and put more of his own stamp on the team. With all of that said, I no longer get disappointed in the way the Ravens play. At certain times, it becomes amusing how a team can have so much talent and play so poorly.

Jamal: Oniel Cousins is a crazy mess! Nobody is talking about the loss of Jared Gaither but the kid was a beast! we miss him in the running game. any word...

Mike Preston: The Ravens definitely miss Jared Gaither, but I don't have a lot of faith in the kid any longer. They just might have to ante up and draft a left tackle, or find one through free agency. The Ravens played head games with Gaither when it came time to tender him as a free agent, and Gaither played some head games with them in return. I'm not sure if their is a mutual trust anymore. It's time to move on.

Grant: Why don't they put Flacco in the shotgun more? It seems like they are forcing him under center because someone said it's how it's supposed to be, but they forget to guys like Brady and Manning that. Flacco is so much more comfortable in the shotgun and when the line is vulnerable, it would provide extra time to get a decent play off. What is the thinking there?

Mike Preston: Grant, this is one of those times when I don't get frustrated with the Ravens any longer, and find them amusing. Flacco played in the shotgun for most of his career at Delaware, so it would make sense for the Ravens to make him as comfortable as possible. Both Flacco and several of the starting receivers said last week they enjoyed playing in the no-huddle offense, and wouldn't mind seeing more of it. We got less of it last week against the Texans. I don't know if the players have relayed their feelings to Cameron, or he just doesn't listen. At this point, who knows? Who cares? It's no use getting upset about it any longer. This team wins despite itself. It's a great case study.

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