NEW ORLEANS -- Ravens receiver Torrey Smith talked at media day on Tuesday about the impact of replacing former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron with Jim Caldwell -- a major storyline during Super Bowl week -- and he basically said the change had made a minimal impact on Baltimore's offense.
"I can get my baby brother to call the plays and if we're out there blocking and catching and making throws, he might look like a genius,” Smith said. “He might get a head-coaching job.”
While that's a funny image, it's not necessarily true. Caldwell probably is more experienced at running an offense than Smith's baby brother.
Either way, NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci has an interesting theory on why the move was made in the first place. In light of the team's inability to remake the offense that late in the season, Mariucci thinks Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti might have had a role in convincing Harbaugh that Cameron needed to go. And it all relates to quarterback Joe Flacco.
“I think some of it had to do with finding out more about Joe Flacco,” Mariucci said. “They have a huge decision to make about his next contract. This is not like shopping for a new car. This is a $100 million decision. Do you do that? Has [Flacco] warranted that kind of reward? Or does [Bisciotti] say, ‘I'll franchise him and see how next year goes without Cam and with a new coordinator and new playcaller.' I don't know if Steve Bisciotti had something to say about that, but some of it had to do with Joe's future.”
One thing is certain: The Ravens are running the ball more with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce -- particularly interesting because one of the biggest criticisms of the Cameron reign was his seeming disinterest in giving the ball to Rice -- and Flacco is playing some of the best football of his career.
“We haven't changed that much, really,” Caldwell said Tuesday. “We've tweaked a few things here and there, but we haven't made any drastic changes. And you wouldn't anticipate that. It's tough to come in, particularly in mid-stream or toward the end of it, and function and function well. You can't have glitches, you can't be slow, you can't be thinking about what you're doing. You need to be able to go and play. If we changed things, we'd have guys thinking. We adjusted a little bit where we had to, and things have moved in the right direction.”
Some of that credit, despite Smith's assertions, must go to Caldwell and his ability to change jobs late in the season.
“When Jim came up in his first meeting [as offensive coordinator], he said that the plays weren't going to change but that we needed to get better,” Ravens guard Marshal Yanda said. “He was going to tighten up a few things. He puts his twist on it, what he wants to call at certain times. What changed also is us getting a little bit better and him deciding when to call and where to call.”
But Mariucci also doesn't want us to forget about Cameron's contributions -- even if Cameron himself called John Harbaugh's move to replace him a “brilliant” one.
“If you look at Cam Cameron's resume, it's pretty good,” Mariucci said. “How much credit do we give Joe Flacco being a quarterback that has won playoff games in his first five years? Where did the offensive coordinator get lost in that equation -- because he had something to do with it, didn't he? He wasn't in a closet just watching the game. He was calling the offense. He was putting in the offense that accounted for a lot of that success. That late in the year, it was interesting to make that move.”
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