Cam Cameron rated league's best offensive coordinator
In The Sporting News' ongoing series of rankings for the NFL's best at every position, the Ravens' Cam Cameron was ranked the no. 1 overall offensive coordinator in the league. Cameron's offensive prowess was well noted in 2008, when he helped bring production to an offense that had ranked 22nd in yards per game the year before. Wrote The Sporting News:
"Being innovative is only part of the job. Putting your best players in a position to be successful is another. Cameron, despite his reputation taking a beating in his one year in Miami, is a great coach who took a Division I-AA quarterback and turned him into a productive NFL starter as a rookie."
Aside from his success in Flacco, Cameron has also been commended for his use of 'the Suggs package.' Expectations will be higher in 2009, as the offense has had a year to learn the system and grow under Cameron's tutelage.
Cameron beat out the likes of the New York Giants' Kevin Gilbride (no. 4), the Dallas Cowboy's Jason Garrett (no. 7) and the New York Jets' Brian Schottenheimer (13).
Ray Lewis named Defensive Player of the Decade
The accolades continue to pile up for linebacker Ray Lewis, even as he enters his 14th season. In his 'Goal-Line Stand' blog for theScore.com, Brad Gagnon ranked Lewis as the defensive player of the decade.
Gagnon used a very specific set of criteria to determine which players best represented the first 10 years of the 21st century. Players had to have won Super Bowls, been either offensive or defensive player of the year at some point in their careers or been MVP.
Nine players fit those criteria, so career statistics were then used to determine who would be named this decade's most dominant player. Lewis, Michael Strahan and Derrick Brooks were the final three:
"Brooks actually hangs in there -- the only spot in which he really trails Lewis is sacks. Lewis also has won an extra defensive player of the year award and has made the All-Pro team five times, to Brooks' four. Lewis takes the crown."
Because Strahan retired after the 2007 season, Lewis gained the edge over him as well. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tied for offensive player of the decade, respectively.
Ravens/Steelers named hottest rivalry in NFL... again
It seems everyone is catching on to how fierce the rivalry between Baltimore and Pittsburgh has come, as their seasonal conflict has again been rated the best in the league, this time by FoxSports.com.
The article relates how this rivalry has two of the most hard-hitting defenses, how each game is so close and so physical. The Steelers may have won all three last season, but as FoxSports.com's Adrian Hasenmayer notes, "Don't think [Ray] Lewis has forgotten."
The Patriots/Colts rivalry, which has been the premier match-up the last several seasons, came in at no. 2. It also beat out Giants/Eagles (no. 3), Vikings/Packers (no. 5) and Broncos/Chargers (no. 8).
Harbaugh ranked no. 10 head coach in the league
Going back to The Sporting News' lists, John Harbaugh was recently listed as no. 10 on their head coach rankings. Not a bad standing considering he will only be entering his sophomore year as a head coach.
"Unlike most coaches, [Harbaugh] has no ego but still is effective in front of the team. He gets the most out of every player and coach."**
Heading into 2008, not much was expected from a team with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. An 11-5 season and berth in the AFC Championship game can certainly change that.
Bill Belichick of the Patriots, who recommend Harbaugh to Ravens' owner Steve Bisciotti, was ranked no.1 overall. He was followed by Tom Coughlin of the Giants (no. 2), Harbaugh's former boss Andy Reid from the Eagles (no. 3), the Titans' Jeff Fisher (no. 4) and the Super Bowl champion Steelers' Mike Tomlin (no. 5). Harbaugh's fellow second-year coach Mike Smith of the Falcons was ranked one notch ahead of him at no. 9.
Teams of the Decade: Ravens no. 6
With all the rankings around the web these days, SI.com's Don Banks decided to take it up a few notches and rank each team on its accomplishments in the first part of the 21st century. Despite only existing for 13 years, the Baltimore Ravens came in no. 6, a true testament to all the decisions the organization has made to become one of the cream-of-the-crop of the NFL. The rankings were based on how the teams fared from 2000 - 2008. 2000 was a good starting point, considering it was the Ravens' championship year:
"The Ravens have undoubtedly ridden the roller coaster this decade, only once putting together back-to-back double-digit win seasons (2000 and 2001). But when you total it all up, they've been in the playoffs five times, won seven postseason games, a Super Bowl trophy, and posted three seasons with 11 or more victories. That's not too shabby for a once-vilified franchise that won only 24 games in its first four seasons after relocating from Cleveland."
New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and the New York Giants were rated higher, all teams with longer histories and stronger foundations than the one the Ravens had entering 2000.