|After a fast start, the Ravens' offense was inconsistent Sunday. (Getty Images)|
Seven days ago, the Ravens' no-huddle offense systematically dismantled the Bengals defense. By the time it was over, Joe Flacco was an efficient 21-of-29 for 299 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. We were talking about his game with the hyperbole usually reserved for the Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings of the NFL quarterbacking world. But much like last season, the biggest obstacle between Flacco and the truly elite quarterbacks in the league continues to be consistency.
Which brings us to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Following the Ravens' 24-23 loss on Sunday to the Eagles, coach John Harbaugh admitted that it was "fair" to question the playcalling. Flacco put the ball up 25 times in the second half (and 42 times overall), and Ray Rice had only nine carries over that same period. And it's fair to question the playcalling,especially on Baltimore's last drive that saw back-to-back pass plays in third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 situations.
“We thought about running the ball, yeah, but we thought we had some good calls,” Harbaugh said afterward the game according to USAToday.com's Robert Klemko. “I think that’s fair. You could have called a draw or something there, but you know they were bringing some heat, and they were hugging the backs, too. It would have been hit or miss. I think that’s a fair thing to talk about."
Rice, who got his new, well-earned contract before the season, didn't think Baltimore gave up on the rushing game in the second half.
"Not necessarily did I think we completely abandoned it, but we had to do what we needed to move down the field," he said. "In this new tempo offense, I will never whine that I do not get the ball. I will get my touches when my name is called."
Concerns about Cameron's scheme are nothing new, but neither are the weekly ups and downs of this offense.
Also not helping: the distractions beyond their control that seem to consume the Ravens.
Flacco complained about the officiating after the game, particularly an offensive pass interference call on Jacoby Jones late in the fourth quarter that negated a touchdown.
"I might sound like a baby, but for them to make that call [offensive interference in the end zone] I think was a little bit crazy," he said. "He didn't even throw a flag -- he threw a blue beanie. … I mean, come on.”
Linebacker Ray Lewis echoed similar sentiments and went so far as to say it's time for the regular officials to get back on the field.
“[T]he game is played the way the game is played, but there’s some serious calls the refs missed,” Lewis said after the game according to WNST.net (by way of PFT). “And that’s just the way it is, man, all around the league. And that, for our league to be what it is, we have to correct that. Because these games are critical. And guys are giving everything they got all across the league, but there are calls that the regular refs, if they were here, we know the way calls would be made. For the conversations to be had the way they had on the sidelines saying, ‘If the real refs were here, that could would have been made.’ That shouldn’t happen. That shouldn’t be the case around the league. But it is, and we have to deal with it.”
And, as reported by the Baltimore Sun, fullback Vonta Leach called the Eagles "dirty."
"They take a couple of shots; that's just how they're coached," he said. "They play dirty. They take shots after the play, a lot of dirty stuff after plays. We weren't going to back down. We weren't going to take that. Anytime someone thinks they're a bully, you got to step up or they'll keep doing it."
Maybe Flacco, Lewis and Leach are right -- but it doesn't do any good to complain about it now, particularly after the way this offense played in the second half. No rest for the weary, though: Baltimore hosts New England next Sunday night.
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