The Next Ravens Offensive Coordinator

According to my anonymous source who prefers to remain nameless (cough … vlad755) the odds on Cam remaining OC next year are looking slim. To quote this very reliable but unnamed (Jeff aka vlad) source,

I asked several folks "in the know" that if the Ravens win the Super Bowl, does Cam stay? It seems to be breaking 50-50 opinion that Cam keeps his job. For the ones in the Cam is Gone Camp No Matter What, mostly they say that the Ravens have/will have invested too much money in Flacco, and that they can get any OC to perform at least as well as Cam, so there is not much risk and if they happen to hire someone who maybe can get to Flacco (hint hint Jim Zorn), they honestly believe the sky is the limit with Joe. So in their minds: jettisoning a Super Bowl winning OC carries little risk vs. the potential reward.

Given this insider information, and the almost universal opinion amongst Ravens fans that Cam Cameron needs to go, I started wondering who would be the potential candidates to replace him. Scouring the internet for "top NFL Offensive Coordinator candidates", the returns were less than satisfying. But after some exhausting research (Ok – maybe an hour) I did come up with five intriguing possibilities.

Here is my list of the top 5 candidates to replace Cam Cameron. The backgrounds of each are liberally lifted from their team bio’s.

Note: I did not consider any current NFL OC as a potential candidate.

1. Back to the Future. Jim Zorn, former Ravens QB coach. Zorn is a former NFL QB and has 23-years coaching experience. He has worked with quarterbacks his entire professional career and received positive reviews from each of the quarterbacks that he’s tutored along the way. We know Zorn and Flacco had a good relationship, but Zorn lost out in the struggle with Cam to develop Flacco. Zorn is a proponent of the West Coast offense and comes from the Mike Holmgren coaching tree. The main hindrance to Zorn getting the job might be the Ravens FO having to admit they made a mistake in choosing Cam over him last year.

2. Back the Packers. Tom Clements, entering his 19th season in the coaching profession, is in his sixth year as Green Bay’s quarterbacks coach. Prior to Green Bay, he spent 10 seasons coaching quarterbacks under some of the game’s most successful coaches, including Bill Cowher, Mike Ditka and Lou Holtz. Clements had two seasons (2004-05) as an offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Under Clements, the Bills’ offense increased its scoring output by 152 and Willis McGahee registered back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. In addition, QB Kelly Holcomb set a club record in 2005 with a 67.39 completion percentage.

3. Steal from the Steelers: Randy Fichtner is in his second season coaching the Steelers’ quarterbacks after spending three seasons as the team’s wide receivers coach. He joined the Steelers after serving the previous six seasons at the University of Memphis. Fichtner instituted the spread offense at Memphis and his offense re-wrote the Memphis record book during his six seasons there. Under Fichtner at Memphis, DeAngelo Williams led an offense that finished the year ranked ninth nationally in total offense and 10th in the nation in scoring. Fichtner worked with quarterback Cleo Lemon, who set virtually every Arkansas State passing and total offense record. Fichtner was a part of unprecedented offensive success at Memphis that also contributed to the Tigers playing in three straight bowl games from 2003-05.

4. Seriously - San Diego (again). John Ramsdell, Chargers quarterbacks coach, has a history of developing quarterbacks. In San Diego, he's been coaching Phil Rivers since Phil's first season as a starter. Before that, he turned Marc Bulger from a low pedigree castoff into a Pro Bowl caliber Quarterback. Before that, he turned Kurt Warner from a grocery store stockboy into a Super Bowl MVP and future Hall of Famer. Bulger has said that Mike Martz used to stay up all night with Ramsdell formulating the game plans and then he'd come down and try and communicate the plan to the offensive players. It would leave the players' heads spinning. So Ramsdell would stick around after and then re-explain it to people in a way that they all understood. And thus, the Rams offense was able to sustain success for so long. When Ramsdell went to San Diego, Rivers talked about how he didn't completely change everything that Rivers had been doing previously under Bryan Schottenheimer, but he adapted and fine tuned things in a way that worked for him. He's a Coryall/Zampese guy, so this would be the least impactful change to the current Ravens players. Ramsdell can probably best adapt and fine tune rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

5. Back to School: Gus Malzahn, Auburn. In some quarters, Malzahn is considered the best collegiate offensive mind. Malzahn’s arrival at Auburn in 2009 and his style of offense marked a drastic turnaround from the 2008 season when Auburn struggled offensively. In a two-year period, the Tigers improved from a tie for 110th to 7th in the nation in scoring offense (from 17.3 to 41.2), from 104th to 7th in total offense. It also took Auburn just six games in 2009 to score more points than it did in all 12 games in 2008. The striking numbers shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as during Malzahn’s two seasons at Tulsa, his offenses there were also among the nation’s finest, ranking first nationally in total offense in 2007 and 2008. Here’s what makes this ranking even more remarkable: Malzahn used quarterbacks running his system for the first time (Cam Newton and Chris Todd at Auburn, Paul Smith, David Johnson and Mitch Mustain at Tulsa). So that should ease some minds for how the transition could affect Joe Flacco. But can an NCAA OC go straight to the NFL and run a pro offense?

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!

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