Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron speaks: Ravens can win championship

January 16, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

In the aftermath of the Ravens' crushing 31-24 loss at Pittsburgh in the divisional playoffs, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said he still believes the Ravens can develop into a championship offense and wants to be here to help it reach that level.

The Ravens offense is taking as many hits from the fan base as it did from the Steelers on Saturday. It turned the ball over three times in the third quarter, dropping two critical passes in the fourth quarter and managing 126 total yards — the fewest in the Ravens' 15-game postseason history and the third-lowest in the team's existence.

Cameron is disappointed in the uncharacteristic mistakes made at Heinz Field, but he also sees the potential in his offense to guide the Ravens from a playoff team to a Super Bowl one.

"I think the foundation we're building offensively continues to grow," he said. "We're not where we want to be, obviously. We've won a lot of games, but we haven't won enough. We're getting better. There's no doubt about it."

The Ravens offense dropped from No. 13 last season to No. 22 this year, which caused some to question Cameron's job security. A league source said Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn't expected to make any changes with his coordinators. There is a possibility that plans regarding the coaching staff could change after Harbaugh speaks with owner Steve Bisciotti. Harbaugh and Bisciotti are expected to talk soon. Harbaugh's season-ending news conference will likely take place this week.

There's also been speculation that Cameron would leave to join one of his best friends, Les Miles, and become LSU's offensive coordinator. The Baton Rouge Advocate had him on a list of potential candidates, but Cameron said he's had "none of those discussions" with Miles.

"We're headed in the right direction," Cameron said of the Ravens, "and I want to be a part of it."

The Ravens offense took a step in the wrong direction against the NFL's No. 2 defense on Saturday. Holding a 14-point lead at halftime, the Ravens had a nightmarish second half: 28 total yards, four sacks and three first downs.

Trent Dilfer, the Ravens' Super Bowl-winning quarterback 10 years ago, called it a "total debacle."

"It's one thing to get beat in a big game. It's another thing to beat yourself," Dilfer said on ESPN after the game. "The second half was just so ugly. They never gave themselves on chance to win the ballgame on offense."

Cameron could only scratch his head over the three turnovers in the third quarter. The Ravens hadn't turned the ball over more than twice in an entire game since Week 2, much less one quarter.

Running back Ray Rice's fumble was his first in his last 405 touches, which had been the longest active streak in the NFL. Flacco's interception was only his sixth in 16 games. And the fumbled quarterback-center exchange is believed to be the first in Cameron's three seasons here.

"Even though we haven't played as well as we've wanted to, we've taken care of the ball all year," Cameron said. "Against Pittsburgh or in any big game, you can't turn the ball over."

Those three turnovers led to 17 points for the Steelers. Pittsburgh's scoring drives off those turnovers were 23, 25 and 6 yards.

"We are good, but to overcome all of that is harsh on my defense," linebacker Ray Lewis said.

The Ravens didn't help the defense by dropping passes late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin had the ball bounce off his chest in the end zone with four minutes remaining, and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped a pass that would have converted a fourth-and-18 on what became the Ravens' final offensive play of the season.

"If you want the ball and whine for the ball and say you're not getting the ball enough, then catch the ball on fourth-and-18 when he hits you in the chest," Dilfer said.

This was another unusual mistake because the Ravens had the fewest drops of any team in the NFL, according to the team.

"We wouldn't have been in that position to win as many games and have a chance to move onto the AFC championship if not for our receivers," Cameron said.

Cameron has a strong reputation for building offenses in the NFL and was the most sought-after offensive coordinator when the Ravens hired him before the 2008 season.

In his last three seasons as the Chargers' offensive coordinator (2004-06), San Diego finished in the NFL's top 5 in scoring. In his three seasons with the Ravens, they've averaged 23.6 points, which ranks No. 9 in that span.

But the Ravens didn't live up to projections, slipping to No. 22 in total yardage and No. 16 in scoring (both lows in Cameron's time here).

An unexpected reshuffling of the offensive line presented difficulties this season. Offensive tackle Jared Gaither never suited up for a game because of a back injury, which caused two linemen ( Michael Oher and Marshal Yanda) to start at different positions than a season ago and pushed a backup into the starting lineup ( Chris Chester)

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