Things were great for the Baltimore Ravens as they headed into Philadelphia on Sunday, especially offensively. They were coming off a flashy 44-point effort against the Cincinnati Bengals where Joe Flacco earned AFC offensive player of the week honors.
Then, Sunday happened.
After a productive first half against the Philadelphia Eagles, Flacco and the Ravens’ offense got progressively worse as the game waged on. The reason for that can squarely be placed on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
The play-calling from Cameron can be characterized as inexcusable, predictable and stubborn.
First and foremost, Cameron went away from Ray Rice after Rice had a huge first half. Rice ripped off 78 yards on seven carries for an average of 11.1 yards-per-carry in the opening half, and was responsible for the Ravens getting into Philadelphia territory all half. Then, inexplicably, Cameron went away from Rice for basically the entire third quarter. The Ravens held a 17-7 lead at halftime and also had the ball to start the second half. It was the perfect situation to chew up yards and some time to start the second half while also putting up some points.
Not in the eyes of Cameron, as the Ravens came out throwing early and often to start the half. Rice did not get a touch until the Ravens’ fourth offensive drive in the third quarter. Those four drives resulted in an interception, and three three-and-outs. On the opening drive of the half, the Ravens had a third-and-two near midfield when Flacco forced the ball into triple coverage which resulted in an interception and also led to an Eagles’ touchdown. When Cameron finally came to his senses and gave the ball to Rice, it was very forced and predictable, as the Eagles’ defense was ready for it and stacked up the Ravens’ rushing attack in the second half.
The Ravens threw the ball 42 times, while only rushing 21 times.Through two weeks the Ravens have passed the ball on 63 percent of their offensive plays. Rice is twentieth in the league with 26 carries through two weeks, and has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game.
The truly damning trend was the play-calling on short-yardage downs. The Ravens had six occasions of either third-and-two, third-and-one or fourth-and-one. Cameron recklessly called pass plays on all six attempts, as the Ravens went 0-for-6 on those plays. Those drive-killing calls where a major reason why so many promising drives ended in zero points and enabled the Eagles to climb back in the game. In all, the Ravens went a pathetic 4-for-14 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down. Cameron’s repeated neglecting of such a premier running back on short-yardage downs while Rice was having a great day is simply inexcusable and it proved to be costly.
Besides going pass-happy to a fault, Cameron also inexplicably went away from the no-huddle offense. The Ravens had major success with the no-huddle against the Bengals in week 1, and they were again moving the ball well using it against the Eagles. The no-huddle was keeping the Philadelphia defense off-balance and disoriented. The offense was at its best when in the no-huddle for Baltimore, yet Cameron went away from it in the second half. After the aforementioned putrid start to the second half, you could feel the momentum going to the Eagles, yet Cameron stubbornly stood idly by and did nothing to stem the tide. The pass protection was getting worse as the game went on and Flacco looked uncomfortable, while Cameron did nothing to help his tiring offensive line or his happy-footed quarterback.
The unit that felt the brunt of Cameron’s wrath was the defense. They battled all game and did their job for the most part, as they forced four Philadelphia turnovers. It wasn’t the defense’s fault that their offensive only produced 10 points off those four turnovers. They were on the field for just under 35 minutes of the game, with long stretches of that time occurring while the Eagles took control of the game in the second half.
It all comes back to the offense though. Could Flacco have played better? Absolutely. Could the offensive line have done a better job giving Flacco more time? Sure. However, by putting both those units in tenuous spots while going away from the offense’s best player in Rice, Cameron did all he could to blow this game, and that is exactly what he did.