Ever since I moved to Baltimore in 2010, I have heard nothing but endless criticism of Cam Cameron and his play calling abilities. There was no doubt Cameron was successful with previous teams, and the Ravens fans weren’t scared to admit this fact, but he was not utilizing Baltimore’s weapons the way the fan base wanted.
As the seasons wore on, the fan base agreed that Cam Cameron was focusing on the wrong part of Baltimore’s offense: the passing game. Many believed in Joe Flacco, and others doubted, but there was an overall understanding that he was not going to lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco was not the answer, but everyone knew one man that was: Ray Rice.
After being selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft, Ray Rice had no ceiling. He was electric. The Baltimore area was excited about him, and in 2009 he was named the starter. During that year, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry, rushed for over 1,000 yards, and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. The fans still wanted more Ray Rice.
2010 was another successful year for Rice as the featured back, amassing over 1,200 rushing yards. The Ravens only lost 4 games that season. He was clearly one of the primary reasons for the success. Fans were satisfied, but there were two frustrating games against the Pittsburgh Steelers in which Rice only got single-digit carries. Those games would resonate with fans.
As 2011 came and went, the Ravens posted another 12-win season. This was the season where Ravens Nation really understood Ray Rice’s value. In 3 of their 4 losses, Ray Rice carried the ball 10 times or less. They lost only 1 game when he had over 10 touches.
Even though 2012 brought about similar frustrations, it seemed as if Cam Cameron’s firing occurred at an unusual time. Coordinators aren’t often fired mid-season when they are leading their teams to a first-place division finish. It appeared Cameron was on a short leash, however. I stand by the idea that the Ravens’ management, and fans, believed that Cam Cameron just didn’t get it. He could not see what he had right in front of him.
When researching this topic, the most startling statistic that jumped out was the difference in the Baltimore Ravens’ record when handing the ball to Rice 19 or more times.
Since 2009, including this season, the Ravens are 26-4 when Ray Rice has 19 or more attempts. That is a defining statistic that Cameron chose not to acknowledge. Ray rice needs to get the ball more, period.
The Ravens’ front office would not have made a move like they did, if they were not on the same page as the coaching staff. With that said, I expect to see Jim Caldwell and John Harbaugh make Ray Rice the centerpiece of this offense each and every Sunday. If they don’t, they will find someone who will. The coaching staff knows what wins games, the management knows what wins games, and most importantly, the fans know what wins games. Ray Rice.