After three and a half years together, the time for excuses for Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco
has long passed. The time has come to explain why the Ravens
offense is still totally inept at times. The Flacco haters will point to Joe’s poor statistics through six games as vindication of their opinion that Flacco is just not good enough. The Cam bashers will counter with the poor game plans and some truly head scratching calls to explain why things have gone so terribly wrong. Whatever your opinion of Cam and/or Joe, one thing is clear: This offense’s dynamic with Cam as OC and Joe as QB is dysfunctional. And unless it is fixed quickly, this will once again lead to an early exit from the playoffs.
So who is to blame? I offer up some point – counterpoint for discussion.
Cam is terrible at offensive game planning.
He is even worse at adjusting the game plan when the opposing defense is shutting down the Ravens offense. In the games this year, one common thread prevails. The Ravens seem to game plan well against opposing defenses they are familiar with, but have a difficult time with unfamiliar defenses. The plan vs. the Steelers
(all of whom they have played within the past year) seemed to be well planned attacks. The plans against the Titans
were total misfires. You can throw out the Rams
game because you don’t need a good plan to beat them this year. Both the Titans and Jags surprised the Ravens with aggressive, motivated defenses that attacked Flacco and took Rice out of the game. Cam didn’t have any plays in his book to counter this strategy, or he simply didn’t (or couldn’t) make the adjustments mid game.
Joe is terrible at reading defenses.
He is even worse at diagnosing blitzes quick enough to find his hot reads even if the receiver were on fire. Asking Flacco to read the Cover 2 is like asking a 3rd grader to read Beowulf. Someone’s going to end up crying. Joe looks good when the play develops as it’s drawn up. But if the defense is aligned to rotate into the correct coverage, he doesn’t pick that up at the line of scrimmage before (or soon after) the snap and realizes too late he has better options elsewhere. If there’s a decent pass rush, the play is dead. As for his blitz reads, Joe can’t even find Troy and more often than not ends up eating the ball rather than finding the hot receiver to negate the blitz.
Cam won’t take the training wheels off Joe.
Problem is, he doesn’t give Joe the latitude to audible out of a bad play call. Cam is way too much of a micro manager as OC. Even in "hurry-up offense", the team stands around for 15 seconds waiting for Cam to call the play. In normal offense, Joe doesn’t come to the line with the flexibility to survey the defense, realize the call is doomed and change it to counter the defense’s formation. This is why drives stall at the most inopportune times.
Joe has the flexibility to audible.
Problem is, he doesn’t make the call. Cam says Joe can audible on most plays. The evidence from a casual observer is that he actually does audible very infrequently – seemingly far less than other top QBs. So if he can change plays, the problem is he lacks that inherent ability to know when to call the audible or what audible to call.
Cam’s pass offense is unsophisticated.
Comparing the Ravens pass offense against the league’s best, it is obvious there are parts of the route tree and route combos we just don’t run. Everything is predicated on patterns outside the hash marks, primarily outs, comebacks and go routes. Crossing patterns, drag routes, quick slants seem to be missing from the plan. In fact, anything over the middle seems to be "verboten" unless it is a dump off pass to Ray Rice
Joe just flat out isn’t accurate enough to make completions into narrow windows on routes across the middle of the field.
Joe has a strong arm which allows him to throw the deep and the out routes, but when he throws across the middle, his INT rate goes through the roof. Just look at his completion percentage – fact is he is just not consistently accurate enough to throw down the middle unless his man is wide open. And even though he throws a pretty deep ball, it is too often pretty off target.
Cam tries to force players into his scheme.
Successful coaches adjust their scheme to maximize the talent they have. This is why players such as Tandon Doss
or David Reed
seem to languish on the bench. Their strength is running routes that Cam simply doesn’t have in his playbook. Meanwhile Torrey Smith
can replace a Lee Evans
because he fits into Cam’s vertical scheme.
Joe’s abilities limit Cam’s offense, not the receivers
. Either that or the receivers simply can’t create separation, even with a good divorce lawyer.
So who is to blame? Cam? Joe? Cam and Joe? Who has to go?
All I know is that, as Kenan Thompson would say, the solution is FIX IT. FIX IT NOW!
The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!