This Sunday, two men that are under extreme pressure to perform well for the Baltimore Ravens to advance past the New England Patriots are Quarterback Joe Flacco and his Offensive Coordinator, Cam Cameron.
Flacco has been under local and national scrutiny since the start of this season and with one year left on his contract many wonder if he will be signed to an extension to remain the Ravens signal caller in 2013 and beyond. The criticism only increased after the Ravens 20-13 victory over the Houston Texans last week in the Divisional Round where the team had almost as many First Downs (11) as it it Punts (9).
I thought the Ravens poor offensive showing last week was more about the right side of the Offensive line putting in a poor showing and not Joe Flacco. In fact, I thought he played fairly well as he threw two touchdowns, didn’t turn the ball over, and made some tough tosses in man on man coverage. In fact I got some support from Film Study over at Ravens 24 x 7 who recently posted his game analysis. Flacco wasn’t flawless but he did play fairly well all things considered.
Cam Cameron has had another uneven season as the Ravens Offensive guru. At times he has sparkled, think Week One against Pittsburgh while others he has looked out of touch and slow to adjust, such as that painful loss to the Jaguars.
Finally though it seems that the “experts” have caught on to a point that I’ve brought up for years about Cameron’s system. It limits Joe Flacco. It’s the reason why you won’t see the gaudy stats from him. Greg Cosell from NFL Films called it a “1960′s offense” filled with two receivers sets with none of the more recent trends in offense such as stack and bunch concepts.
I tend to believe that the only thing that might allow Cam to re-sign another contract here would be a championship ring. Then he would have all the proof necessary to show that his system works.
Last weekend, Cameron has to take some blame for the Offense’s poor showing. The game plan seemed fairly predictable, with the running game going Off Guard or Tackle while most of the passes were deep one on one Go routes. It all seems fairly vanilla and “conservative” in that the throws were usually safe and the mindset appears to be one of control the ball and limit turnovers.
That shouldn’t seem like such a bad thing. Let’s not forget that the Ravens have been incredibly successful using this formula as they’ve averaged double digits wins over the last four seasons, have appeared in the playoffs in as many seasons and have won at least one playoff game as well. They’re in the AFC Championship game for the second time in four seasons. Shouldn’t we just enjoy it? Shouldn’t that be enough? Isn’t winning the name of the game?
Yeah, it beats losing.
But as the great Ricky Bobby once said, “if you ain’t first, you’re last”. The Ravens have been to the playoffs, it’s time to take the next step.
Let’s be honest. If the team loses this Sunday due to offensive ineptitude the meltdown among the fan-base may be epic. It would be yet another chapter of ‘Little Brother” being unable to match the greatness of the Defense. This team has been loaded with plenty of talent over the years and while it’s tough to get to a Super Bowl you’d think the Ravens would have had enough to represent the AFC more than once in eleven years.
If the Ravens are to advance it will be because both Flacco and Cameron did their jobs exceedingly well against the Patriots defense.