The Baltimore Ravens have been a playoff caliber team each of John Harbaugh’s five seasons with the club. Over that time, the Ravens have used the draft to stock-pile the offensive side of the ball. Due to this strategy, the offense has gotten much better, while the defense has slowly deteriorated, mostly due to injuries and the team’s lack of quality depth.
The Ravens have been a frustrating team to watch these last few seasons. You see games where the Ravens blow-out the Oakland Raiders by 30 points one week, then they struggle to beat a similarly (or less) talented team like the Kansas City Chiefs the next time out. There has been no consistency on the offensive side of the ball (especially on the road) these last few seasons.
Heck, forget week-to-week, Baltimore looks like a different team from one quarter to the next. They played great first halves against both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins the last two weeks, only to cough up the lead (in both games) and look miserable moving the ball in the second half. It’s like they play aggressive football in the first half and then change their way of attacking once they have the lead.
Maybe it was the coordinator, or the scheme….or maybe it was the player personal on the field, but the offense has sputtered all season long. Make no mistake about it, Cam Cameron wanted the guys that were drafted on offense. Some have worked out (Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torey Smith, Dennis Pitta) and other draft picks have not payed the dividends that the club expected when they were drafted (at least not yet anyway). Players like Ed Dickson, Tandon Doss, Tommy Streeter, Anthony Allen, David Reed, and Gino Gradkowski, etc. have been relegated to backup rolls and special teams for the most part.
Granted, Cam Cameron is not the ONLY guy at fault in regards to the personnel side of the equation; but, he was the one who wrote up the game plan on how to use the talent at his disposal. Ultimately, it comes down to him getting his offense ready to play and to get them ready to play four solid quarters of football. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened enough this season, as the Ravens offense is just not getting the job done. It’s much easier to fire one guy then eleven and that’s why the Ravens chose to make the change now.
Hopefully, Jim Caldwell gets the job done. If he can turn the offense around, he should be rewarded with the job at the start of next season. If he can’t get it done, then the Ravens may determine that the players on the field need tweaking. Joe Flacco is in a contract year and has not been consistent enough to be given a huge payday. This change with three games left may determine if Flacco is resigned or if someone else is brought in to play quarterback next season.
The other option is for Baltimore to find a high-power offensive coordinator who is known as an offensive “genius” (Mike Martz comes to mind); someone who can get the maximum out of all the players and can put points on the board at will. The key is consistency, not just from game to game, but quarter by quarter. The Ravens have weapons, but they need a coordinator who can make this unit jell and maximize their efforts.
There are still three regular season games left. The Ravens may still win the AFC North and be successful in the playoffs, but these next eight weeks (including the playoffs) may decidedly cause a roster shake-up this off-season (for better or for worse) and those potential changes will have ripple effects that will felt by this team for many seasons to come. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope the Ravens right the ship and lock-up a playoff spot this week against the Denver Broncos.