The Baltimore Ravens made waves Monday with the announcement that Cam Cameron, the team's offensive coordinator of nearly five years, had been fired. While no one would have blinked an eye if the much-maligned Cameron had been let go at the end of the year, releasing the coach at this point in the season is highly uncharacteristic of the Ravens organization—and nearly unheard of for a team that leads their division in mid-December.
However, the timing of this move is not as strange as it seems. The decision has as much to do with quarterback Joe Flacco as it does with the team's hope to improve their offensive performance this year. Flacco is playing in a contract year, and his up-and-down performances are making it difficult for the Ravens to assess just how much their presumed franchise quarterback is worth. He has not met the expectations set for him at the beginning of the season.
Around Baltimore and across the country, there has been speculation that Cameron and Flacco did not see eye-to-eye, and that Cameron's tendency to micromanage has limited the offense's development. In recent years, the Ravens have drafted with the clear intent of building a more explosive offense. Yet the addition of talented weapons like wide receiver Torrey Smith and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson has not translated to the powerhouse the Ravens envisioned.
This could be attributed to Flacco's lack of development, as many have suggested the quarterback has hit his ceiling. The Ravens hope that Flacco has hit his ceiling under Cam Cameron, and with this move, the organization is looking to raise the roof.
Cameron's replacement, Ravens quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, was quarterbacks coach and head coach for the Indianapolis Colts during Peyton Manning's six most prolific seasons. He brought to Baltimore the up-tempo offense that has so captured Flacco's enthusiasm. In the past few weeks, in fact, Flacco has openly voiced his displeasure with the offense's movement away from the no-huddle.
Flacco, who said he was “stunned” by the move to release Cameron and promote Caldwell, might just get what he's wishing for. The Ravens want to see Flacco unchained, and he has three games to prove that Cameron was holding him back. If he can't prove that, the Ravens may choose to franchise him in the off-season, giving themselves another year to decide if he is the long-term answer at quarterback.