It has been a season of ups and downs for the 9-4 Baltimore Ravens in 2012. Between injuries, inconsistent performances, the death of Art Modell, miraculous victories and crushing defeats, it has been a roller coaster of a season.
That rollercoaster took another huge turn Monday morning, as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired.
Cameron was in his fifth year as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator and was a big part of Joe Flacco evolving as a quarterback.
There was the notion that this was the season that the Ravens’ offense would carry the defense for the first time in franchise history.
However, both Flacco and the offense as a whole have taken a big step backwards this season as the offense had become stale, predictable and insanely inconsistent.
Coming into yesterday’s game, the Ravens’ offense ranked a very disappointing 19th in the NFL.
After big performances from Flacco in three of the first four games, his play has tapered off dramatically.
Flacco has been a model of inconsistency, which in turn has hurt the anemic rushing attack. Ray Rice and the rushing attack have also taken a step backwards this season under Cameron’s play calling.
With the playoffs approaching and a sense of malaise on the offensive side of the ball, general manager Ozzie Newsome thought it was time to shake things up. Despite the 9-4 record, the Ravens have been basically treading water the last four weeks, while other AFC heavyweights have looked much stronger.
Thus, Cameron was fired and will be replaced with former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach and current quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell.
It was a big year for both Cameron and Flacco coming into the season, as they were both in the last year of their respective contracts. Many people wanted to label Flacco as elite this season, as much of his progression as a quarterback was attributed to Cameron’s tutelage over the last four seasons.
Flacco started out the season looking like he was ready to become one of the league’s top quarterbacks. Flacco averaged just over 317 yards passing in those first four games, as he outduled the likes of Tom Brady and Andy Dalton en route to a 3-1 record.
However, since Week 4 Flacco is averaging just over 216 yards passing per game, and has looked anything but elite.
That low passing average has come in a very inconsistent manner as Flacco has thrown for less than 190 yards six times, and thrown for more than 340 yards twice.
Thus, with Flacco either going feast or famine in the last nine games, his inconsistency was wreaking havoc on the offense as a whole.
Flacco’s struggles have been obvious, yet Cameron still felt the need to continuously air the ball out despite his quarterback’s struggles. Coming into yesterday’s game, Flacco was statistically the worst quarterback on passes of 11-plus yards downfield. That stat was another damning strike against Cameron as Flacco has severely regressed in that department.
After the hot start, Flacco and the Ravens’ passing attack are now in the bottom half of the league.
The rushing game meanwhile has also regressed immensely.
Entering Week 14, the Ravens owned the league’s 23rd-ranked rushing attack, which is pathetic considering they have Rice and Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach at the helm of that attack.
The rushing ranking has not been indicative of Rice’s season though, as he is still on track for over 1,200 rushing yards. However, it’s the fact that Rice is 12th in the league in attempts that has condemned Cameron and his pass-happy play calling.
Rice has had 18 or less carries in eight of the Ravens’ 13 games. Entering Week 14, Rice only had two 100-plus yards rushing efforts, and his game-high in rushing yards was only 102.
Rice is projected to have his lowest rushing total for an entire season since his rookie year, so that was another strike against Cameron.
All things considered, Cameron’s pass-happy playing calling neglected Rice and the rushing attack’s full potential, which in turn put a porous defense on the field for long periods of time. The unwillingness of Cameron to run the ball created an imbalance in the offense, which hindered Flacco, the offense and the defense.
With so many condemning stats, ranks and numbers working against him, Cameron sealed his fate, as the Ravens’ season appears to be slipping away. Thus, with the sinking feeling currently surrounding the Ravens, a change was made, and it was definitely necessary.