When the Baltimore Ravens didn’t give the ball to Ray Rice once in the team’s 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 2, the fan calls for the head of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron intensified. And when the Ravens followed that loss with a 31-28 overtime stunner at the hands of the Washington Redskins last Sunday, the team felt that a move needed to be made. Now 9-4 after those two losses, the Ravens have fired Cameron and will replace him with quarterbacks coach (and former Indianapolis Colts head coach) Jim Caldwell. Cameron, the former Miami Dolphins head coach and San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator, was in his fifth season with Baltimore. He was named the team’s offensive coordinator in 2008, as part of the coaching shakeup that saw Brian Billick get the boot and John Harbaugh step in as Billick’s replacement. The Ravens have been successful through that time, never losing more than seven games and amassing a 53-24 regular-season record, but Cameron’s offenses never placed higher than ninth in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted DVOA metrics in overall offensive efficiency. This despite several high draft picks to buttress the offense, such as Rice, quarterback Joe Flacco, receiver Torrey Smith, and offensive tackle Michael Oher. At times, Cameron seemed to be living in a long-gone time when receiver distribution and location (to use a favorite phrase of our friend Greg Cosell) wasn’t as important as it is now. In 2011, the Ravens ranked 30th in offensive formations of three receivers, setting up that way just 28 percent of the time. Cameron’s insistence on sending his receivers on isolation routes, essentially forcing his players to beat coverage without the advantages provided by formation diversity, gave the Ravens’ offense a handicap. Cameron seemed to try and switch things up in 2012, going with more wide and multiple sets, and setting Flacco up in more no-huddle sets that seemed to play well to the quarterback’s strengths. However, the Ravens regressed to type as the season went on, and even Flacco was quoted as saying that he didn’t understand why there wasn’t as much no-huddle.
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