Ravens Offense Dialing Up Deceptive Play Calling


After Monday's game, Head Coach John Harbaugh identified the difference-maker in the game.

It was the collaboration in play calling between Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron and quarterback Joe Flacco.

"Cam will be the first one to take the blame and last one to take credit, so I'll be standing up here and giving Cam a little credit tonight," Harbaugh said Monday night. "I thought he did a great job with the play calling."

"And, really, it's a collaboration right now between Cam and Joe with the play calling. I thought they worked really well together all night, obviously, and that's probably what was the difference."

The Ravens offense has drawn acclaim for its no-huddle approach that wore down some preseason opponents and ultimately did the same against the Cincinnati Bengals despite just 58 snaps.

But there's more wrinkles to the offense than just that.

Cameron mixed and matched his personnel and formations throughout the night in order to deceive defenders on multiple occasions – on the same drive.

"I thought Cam called a great game," Flacco said. "I think we were able to keep the guys off balance and stay one step ahead for most of the game. If we can continue to do that, it will be great. It will put us in a lot of advantageous situations."

One advantage the Ravens have is flexible personnel. Both tight ends can line up wide. Baltimore can move running back Ray Rice into the slot. Even fullback Vonta Leach can go outside. They can just as easily run power football out of the same personnel groups.

That allows Baltimore to use its no-substitution, no-huddle attack. With the same players on the field, the Ravens can do a lot.

Without doing much subbing, the Ravens had two-wide sets 21 times Monday night. They went three-wide 19 times and four-wide 11 times, according to Stats LLC. That's not just wide receivers, but tight ends and running backs too.

The Ravens were in the shotgun 17 times and went no-huddle on 32 of their plays. They moved in and out of the no-huddle, speeding up and slowing down the pace of the game.

Cameron said it's key that Baltimore doesn't just line up in a lot of different formations for the sake of giving a different look.

"Just sticking guys in certain places and not using them, people aren't going to defend that," Cameron said. "We have tight ends; we have people that we can move, and running backs outside that they aren't a decoy; it's real. It gets them the ball in space.

"We aren't trying to put any window dressing on anything. We are putting guys in places strategically to give them an advantage, or give us an advantage. It's really that simple."

Cameron talked about how teams can take a player away in the passing game. The Bengals paid a lot of attention to wide receiver Torrey Smith, especially after his 52-yard reception on the first play of the game.

So on Baltimore's second drive, Cameron opened with an end-around to Smith after a fake handoff to Rice. That went for 13 yards. Two plays later, wide receiver Anquan Boldin came around for a reverse. He fumbled the ball, but may have had a big play in the works.

That didn't deter Cameron. He came right back to it three plays later, handing the ball off to Boldin for a 3-yard gain.

But just because he called three end-arounds on one series, Cameron said it doesn't mean he's all-of-a-sudden getting wild.

"I've never been a gimmick guy," Cameron said. "I've never been a trickery guy. It's all been strategic."

Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid, an offensive-minded guru in his own right, has taken notice of the changes in Baltimore.

"I think they are doing some very good stuff," Reid said. "I think [Quarterbacks Coach] Jim Caldwell coming in there added another dimension to an already great offensive coordinator in Cam. I think they've got a good combination of things that they are doing. The most important thing is that the quarterback is playing well."

Flacco also shouldn't be left out of the play-calling credit. He has input in the offense as the week goes on, and said it's his job once the game plan is in to see what things he likes and what he doesn't.

"Obviously, everything that we run I like, and the things that I don't like you guys will never see, because I don't like them," Flacco said, getting a laugh from the media.

"It's Cam's offense; he puts the game plans together for the most part and it's our jobs – assistant coaches and players – to make sure that we get to him and let him know what we like and what we think is going to work that week. Then we see how well we run it in practice and see how it goes."

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