For years the Baltimore Ravens have struggled to take that final step to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Other than that magical season of 2000-01, when the defense carried the offense to Super Bowl 35 and victory, the Ravens have searched high and far for the right combination of coaches, coordinators and quarterbacks, the three positions on a team that have the most influence on the offense's success.
Before you try to determine who to blame, try putting all three of the Ravens current guys into different scenarios and bring other coaches, coordinators and players into this current one. What would have if we switched out in different combinations, head coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and QB Joe Flacco.
Let's start with the QB. If Joe Flacco were traded today for Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, would the team be better and how good would Cam Cameron look with Rodgers at the helm? Not fair you say, as Rodgers is like a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees and would make any OC look great? Then how about a more "second-tier" QB such as Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan or even New York Giants QB Eli Manning?
Where would the Ravens have been over the past three seasons and where would they stand now with either of those guys at QB? Better, or worse than what Flacco has accomplished under both Harbaugh and Cameron? Conversely, how good would another team be with Joe Flacco starting for them. Would Patriots coach Bill Belichick still be the "genius" if Flacco were his starter? Would even the Falcons be as good (better or worse?) if Joe played for Atlanta?
Let's move on to Cam Cameron. What if the OC from the Packers, Patriots or Saints were brought into the Ravens trio to work with Joe under Harbaugh? How much better (or to be fair, worse) would Flacco's and the team's performance be in place of Cameron as the OC? How good (or bad) would Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees or even Matt Ryan or Eli Manning be on their current teams if Cameron were there as OC?
Finally, take head coach John Harbaugh out of the picture here in Baltimore and bring in one of the other coaches from those aforementioned QB's teams and how do you think it would have changed the past or the present if they oversaw Cameron and Flacco with the Ravens offense?
Understand, this is all to generate debate, as there is no way to quantify my or your opinions on these conjectures, just food for thought. My point in all of these different scenarios is that the combination of the three are as much of an issue as any one of them. Most of us believe we could coach or be the offensive coordinator of any team with Rodgers, Brady or Brees under center. Some might think that Cameron would look great if they were here.
Same goes for head coach John Harbaugh. Do you really think another NFL head coach could come in here and do significantly better and if Harbaugh were coach at some of the other teams instead of Baltimore, would they truly be any different today?
Some may think the Ravens would be better off with another QB in place of Flacco, be it Eli Manning or Matt Ryan. With or without Flacco, the Ravens will be a good team, if only because of their amazing defense. Everyone says "defense wins championships," but in the current NFL, an offense has to contribute in order to win it all.
So before you look to pin the tail on the "donkey" of your choice, look at who that target should be by taking a look at who else that target could possibly be.