By Samuel Njoku
With the Ravens holding the second best record in the AFC, 2012 looks to be another strong season for the purple and black. But after another poor performance from the Ravens’ offense on the road, Cam Cameron once again finds himself in the hot seat. There hasn’t been an offensive coordinator under more scrutiny in the past 4 years than Cam Cameron. And while most of the criticism against him is valid, some of the blame placed on Cameron is simply unfair.
Cam Cameron is criticized mainly for his questionable play-calling. His pass happy style of offense doesn’t sit well with fans that are accustomed to the ground-and-pound mentality of years past. When you have one of the best running backs in the league carrying the ball 9 times a game, it’s hard to argue against them. Cameron believes that as long as Ray Rice is touching the football, he can be an asset to the team. But the problem with the offense boils down to one key component – the play-action pass.
The Ravens made a living off of the play action pass last season. With Ray Rice running for well over 1,000 yards last year, Flacco was able to take advantage with a plethora of play-action plays to suck the defense in. This season, teams have not bit on the play-action fake nearly as much. This is primarily because the Ravens throw the ball an inordinate amount of times. The play-action pass is the most dangerous play in the NFL. The Ravens found that out for themselves last Sunday.
Matt Schaub’s biggest plays came from the play-action pass. The plays worked so well because Arian Foster was running the ball effectively. Did Foster run for huge chunks of yards on every play? No. But he kept the defense honest, and the Texans took advantage. Cameron must get back to this style of play or his job could be in jeopardy. The Ravens have already hinted at returning to a more run-oriented offense after Sunday’s loss.
“We could have stayed with the run a little more patiently,” Harbaugh told reporters. “We probably all saw we could have been a little more patient with the run. Whether it’s Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce or whoever it is.”
Harbaugh is right. It doesn’t matter who it is. Just run the ball. It’s that simple. At least for everyone not named Cam Cameron. The Ravens offensive coordinator is known to be quite stubborn. He likes to do things his way, which is not a bad thing when you’re doing well. But when you’re performing the way the offense has, you have to be open for change. It took Cameron five seasons to give Flacco some control of the offense, but at least for now it appears that he’s taking it back.
It should be noted that the struggles on offense aren’t all on Cam Cameron. The offensive line isn’t playing good football right now. An above average defensive front can dominate the line of scrimmage on any given Sunday. The receivers are still having trouble breaking away from press coverage. And Flacco can’t seem to play a decent game on the road. But the issues on offense can at least be masked with an effective run game. Ray Rice, who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, has been playing well this year. If Baltimore can get Rice more involved on Sunday’s, it may turn their season around.
This can only occur if Cam Cameron calls his number on a consistent basis. If he can’t, the Ravens “Next Man Up” mantra may apply for coaches as well.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.