Cam Cameron has been removed as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator and former Quarterbacks Coach Jim Caldwell has been promoted into his position.
The team officially announced the news Monday afternoon following a 31-28 loss to the Washington Redskins, handing the Ravens a second straight loss.
“It’s not about fair or unfair, right or wrong,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
“My responsibility is to the whole team and what’s best for them right now. We need a change. Our plan and our goals are to win games, win our division and get to the playoffs.”
Caldwell mentored quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and was the Colts’ head coach for three years. However, he has never been an offensive play caller during his 12 NFL seasons or in college.
Cameron had been the Ravens’ offensive coordinator since 2008, the start of the Harbaugh era.
During that time, the highest the Ravens offense has ranked in terms of yards per game is 13th in 2009, when Baltimore posted 351.2 yards per game.
Baltimore’s offense has added weapons over the past several years, but has not made much overall improvement. It currently ranks 18th in the league with 344.4 yards per game. The Ravens are in the top 10 in points per game this year.
Cameron has largely been in charge of overseeing quarterback
But Flacco also hasn’t seen a dramatic improvement in his statistics during his five seasons, and is in the final year of his rookie contract with an extension expected.
The Ravens, pundits and fans had high expectations for Flacco entering the year after he looked strong in training camp and the preseason, and in Week 1 against Cincinnati.
After Sunday’s 182-passing yard performance with three touchdowns, one interception and one fumble, Flacco is on pace for 3,963 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. That’s a career high in passing yards, but short of his 2010 touchdowns (25) and about on pace in interceptions.
Flacco told The Baltimore Sun last week that he’s “frustrated” with the offense’s lack of improvement this year. Flacco said it “comes back to the quarterback,” but he also said it’s a little frustrating that the Ravens aren’t using more no-huddle.
Cameron has been under fire in Baltimore for the past couple years, criticized by fans and media for not giving running back
Baltimore’s front office doesn’t generally have a track record of making major midseason shake-ups.
But it did fire Jim Fassel as offensive coordinator in mid-October of 2006. Then head coach Brian Billick took over play calling and the team went on to win its first AFC North title.
The Ravens made this year’s move the day after the offense scored the most points it has all season on the road in Washington.
But it also stumbled in key situations with two turnovers, an interception deep in Redskins territory and a fumble for the second straight week.
The Ravens offense struggled on the road in Kansas City, Houston, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Flacco and the unit have been plagued by inconsistency, particularly on third down this year and recently with turnovers.
Baltimore has three games remaining in the regular season and is once again on the cusp of a playoff berth.
Harbaugh brought up the team’s motto of W.I.N. “What’s Important Now” in talking about why he made the decision.
"My charge – our responsibility as a coaching staff – is to maximize the opportunities for our team to win, and we can still reach all of our goals for this season," Harbaugh said.
"With our coaches and players, the solution is in the building. We are going to make the most of our opportunities going forward, and this change gives us a better possibility to achieve our goals."
Caldwell’s first game will be against his former quarterback and the Denver Broncos this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The laid-back Caldwell and Flacco seem to have built a good relationship during their time together in Baltimore, and the coach speaks highly of his quarterback.
"We're getting a feel for one another,” Caldwell said in June. “We get along and those kinds of things. It's a great working relationship at this point.”
Harbaugh said the decision to let go of Cameron is the “hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a coach.”
“There is a very human side to this,” Harbaugh said. “Cam is my friend, he taught me a lot about coaching, and he is an outstanding coach.
“Cam has been a significant contributor to all of our successes over the past four, almost five, seasons. Deservedly, he is highly-regarded, and we owe thanks to him for what he did for the Ravens.”