And it’s not, as many Ravens fans will argue, because he is “too conservative.”
As a matter of fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers have came out and said that the reason they were able to so easily and effectively harass Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense in the second half Saturday was because they knew all too well that Cam would NOT be conservative.
Safety Ryan Clark said that the Steelers knew that the Ravens would come out throwing the ball on first down in the second half, likely off of a play-action fake. One can imagine the defensive line being explicitly told to go full bore after Flacco, and to not fall for the play action.
“We played this team tons of times,” said safety Ryan Clark, who created both turnovers that helped the Steelers tie the score. “We know this team. We kind of knew what Cam Cameron was going to come out and do to us. We knew he wasn’t going to shut it down totally. He was going to try to get some yards on first down with the pass, and then run and protect [Ravens quarterback Joe] Flacco. We really guarded the pass on first down.”
Result? Sacks on the Ravens’ first two first downs (of two separate possessions) in the third quarter.
This was a situation where, leading 21-7, and with the defense playing lights out, the only way Pittsburgh could get back into the game was likely with turnovers. “Run the ball, run some clock, punt it away” should have been the Ravens’ MO to start the second half. Instead, Cameron was aggressive when he should have been conservative.
Later, it was just the opposite.
After Lardarius Webb’s 55-yard punt return touchdown was nullified by penalty (this is me zipping my lips about that particular call), Flacco connected with Todd Heap for 21 yards to set up 1st-and-goal from the Steelers’ 8 yard line, with the Ravens trailing 24-21.
What does Cam Cameron call? Perhaps another wonderfully designed pick play like the one that resulted in Heap’s 4-yard score in the second quarter? Or a spread draw like the one that Ray Rice was able to turn into the team’s first touchdown of the day? Maybe something else equally creative and potentially effective?
No. Cameron calls back-to-back runs – from running formations – right into the teeth of the Steelers defense. Even after being completely shut down on those types of plays ALL DAY to that point, that’s what Cam went with. Willis McGahee got two yards on first down and Rice was stopped for no gain on second.
Then, of course, Anquan Boldin dropped what should have been the go-ahead touchdown (a topic for another day).
I will argue that Cameron’s problems are much more complicated than the blanket issue of “being too conservative.” Instead, Cam just has absolutely no feel for the game, and for when it is appropriate to be conservative compared to when it is time to attack.
Of course, there are also reasons why Cam should NOT be fired, and those are being discussed all around town today as well. It’s an argument that seems very likely to be taking place at the Castle in Owings Mills as well. Much to the dismay of many Ravens fans, early indications are that Cam will return in 2011. Some have suggested that may change though, after John Harbaugh meets with owner Steve Bisciotti later in the week.