Articles from around the Web
PDF VERSION NOW AVAILABLE
Click here to buy PDF version.
Click here to buy PDF version
Official Account: @fboutsiders
Scott Kacsmar: @FO_ScottKacsmar
Ben Muth: @FO_WordofMuth
Aaron Schatz: @FO_ASchatz
Vince Verhei: @FO_VVerhei
-- plus --
Bill Connelly: @SBN_BillC
J.J. Cooper: @jjcoop36
Cian Fahey: @Cianaf
Brian Fremeau: @bcfremeau
Tom Gower: @ThomasGower
Rivers McCown: @RiversMcCown
Chad Peltier: @CGPeltier
Matt Waldman: @MattWaldman
Rob Weintraub: @robwein
10 Dec 2012
Cameron finally gets axed for his lack of creative playcalling (and lack of using Ray Rice) but is Jim Caldwell really someone you think of as a creative force?
Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 10 Dec 2012
88 comments, Last at
17 Dec 2012, 9:24am by
Mid-season firing OC while leading division with a magic number of 1 and in the hunt for playoff bye. Yeah, THAT'S a well-reasoned move...
Um, we're a tad past their midway point of the season.
He said "mid-season", not "mid-way point".
That's not what you're doing?
Welcome to the English language, where 'midway' doesn't always mean the exact median.
And "mid-season" definitely is not equivalent to "midway"
And "mid season" definitely doesn't = December 10th. Can't we stop being so anal retentive now and get back to the topic at hand? The main point is that that makes this move come across very panicky/knee jerky.
You're the one who started the anal retentiveness. As if the difference between 'mid season' and 'December 10th' was meaningful in any way.
You don't get to play the 'I get to make the last anal point' card and simultaneously tell people to stop being anal.
Don't make me pull this car over!
Again, I wasn't really disagreeing with the op's main point, that the timing of this makes it seem panicky/knee jerk on the Ravens' part. I probably should've added that to my first post, but I didn't realize that some here had such think skin. Funny, the op didn't seem to have a problem with it, though.
thin skin, that is
It's not thin skin - we're just super pedantic and anal around here. Happens all the time and is half the fun.
So I'll throw my two cents in : In my opinion, the OP's phrase "mid-season" could accurately mean any time during the season - i.e. you have pre-season, mid-season, and post-season. I guess "during the season" might be clearer, but mid-season works.
I just thought it was funny that you were simultaneously being a nit-picker with definitions while demanding that nobody else do the same.
You're the biggest asshole in the milky way galaxy. Just such a goddam prick.
Seconded. Time to get the monkey out of here.
I'm being a little hypocritical here, but who cares? Nitpicking a mundane detail of a comment?
I think you meant to say nit-picking.
HA! You posted twice!!!!!!
Using multiple exclamation marks... I don't know if it's incorrect per se, but it looks bad.
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!
Did you really post a Latin word without using italics? How could you do such a thing?
I love Football Outsiders, and this is why.
Please put your dangling modifier back in your pants.
In that context I tend to read "mid" as "midst", not "middle".
Thankfully this happened the day after the Redskins game...
Am I reading wiki right - has Jim Caldwell never been offensive coordinator before? Hiring a guy who is 57 with no prior experience and only a stint as HC in Wake Forest and a disaster in Indy as non-assistent coaching is weird.
Juan Castillo would be a better hire - he's at least done something on the offensive side of the ball other than pad a HOF QB on the back.
According to every Ravens fan I talk to here in Baltimore, any warm body who knows how to call handoffs and passes to Ray Rice would be an upgrade over Cameron.
There's no guarantee Caldwell fits that description.
As a North Carolinian that lives within spitting distance of Wake Forest University, I can assure you that Jim Caldwell is quite possibly the worst coach in the history of football. When everyone here found out he was "coaching" Peyton Manning as the QB coach in Indy, we thought he had found the perfect job: One that required absolutely nothing from him. How he parlayed that into a head coaching gig (and a miserable failure, at that) and now an OC's job is anyone's best guess.
Being a poor head coach does not preclude one from being a good OC. Caldwell wasn't a very good college coach (.292) though his Wake Forest teams did have some strong passing attacks. And that had more to do with Wake Forest than anything else.
College coaching records:
Chuck Mills at Wake (.209) everywhere else (.564)
Al Groh at Wake (.394) everywhere else (.522)
Bill Dooley (.446) everywhere else (.594)
John Mackovic at Wake (.412) everywhere else (.588)
Jim Grobe at Wake (.497) everywhere else (.500)
Take a look at Cameron. He was 18-37 (.327) at Indiana. Norv Turner is a really good OC but a lousy head coach.
Yes, totally a disaster in Indy, what with his AFC Championship ring and all...
Caldwell gets credit for standing on the sideline staring blankly into space for 20 weeks while Peyton Manning carried the entire team on his back? I guess the third string QB got an AFC Championship game ring too, didn't he?
Aside from the fact that Indy never carried a 3rd QB, I agree and most Colts fans I know online would agree as well. Caldwell got high marks for not screwing up the Colts and continuing Dungy's tenure more or less. But he was no Siefert and was pretty timid and overly conservative as a HC. Was that him or the OC? Well, the buck stops with him, so as an OC I assume he'd bring the same shortcomings. Give him a smooth-running machine with Manning at the helm and he'll more or less keep it going. Give him a chance to make a statement on the field, and he'll be sitting in the corner, reading Jane Eyre.
He always struck me as more of a Waiting for Godot type.
Yeah, but without the angst. I don't he'd care much one way or the other if Godot showed up. Come to think of it, I'm not sure he'd even realize. He certainly wouldn't change his expression.
What does that imply about Dungy and Fox?
Any team with P. Manning doesn't need a HC? Or that their accomplishments with him don't count?
I'm a Panthers fan that thinks John Fox is a great coach that got a crappy deal in his last two years in Carolina due to Richardson's lack of spending before the lockout. However, no matter what happens in Denver, I won't be giving Coach Fox or OC Mike McCoy much of any credit for the Broncos' offensive production with Peyton Manning, unless it's crediting them for being smart enough to stay out of his way and let him do his thing. The Broncos defense, however, has been excellent, and I'm more than OK with crediting the coaching staff for keeping the defense sharp and executing at a high level.
It's pretty clear at this point that Caldwell coasted on the team Polian, Dungy, and Manning built, and between his invisible coaching and Polian's losing it, the team fell apart pretty quickly-- but still, of course, quickest when Manning was knocked out.
Why is Caldwell coasting, and Dungy not?
Dungy was a defensive coach, and the Colts defense was awful the entire time he was there (aside from 1 year). Sounds like he was just staring off into space while Peyton was running the offense.
This had to happen. The offense was totally dysfunctional and never had any sort of identity. I was staring to miss Cavanaugh! Say what you will about the tenets of Matt Cavanaugh's offenses (mediocre comes to mind), at least it was an ethos.
But did it have to happen now?
Forget it, Donny, you're out of your element.
Ha! Excellent timing, sir - I just watched that flim (yes, I said 'flim', as would the Swedish Chef) last night!
As to the matter at hand - having seen the stat lines for the Ravens, I would tentatively agree that there is really only one direction to go, given the talent available on that offense.
This Steeler fan says "good move!" Cam might not have been great, and maybe even deserved to see the door, but going into week 15 isn't the time for that. Chaos in the office and locker room for the playoff run is bad.
And it seems particularly bad coming off a game where they led by 8 late and the defense allowed a rookie backup to tie the game. I have no idea if the players cared whatsoever about Cam, but it's easy to see them thinking about the D "You guys don't get the job done and now we have to pay for it."
I doubt the players are thinking that. They see the training room and the injured reserved list. (Ray Lewis, Ladarius Webb, Terrell Suggs, Jimmy Smith, Pernell McPhee, Danell Ellerbe) When Jameel McClain when out the two ILBS were Brendan Ayanbadejo and Josh Bynes. Josh Bynes!
The offense on the other hand has been exceptionally healthy.
The defense is hurting from a lot of injuries. Also, the Redskins have one of the best offenses in the league. It was reasonable to expect the Redskins to be able to move the ball.
OTOH, the Redskins have a terrible secondary. The previous week, Victor Cruz was repeatedly sent deep against d-backs who couldn't keep up with him.
Torrey Smith is very fast. But the Ravens really didn't try the same tactic, in spite of this vulnerability.
After several weeks during which the Ravens refused to use Ray Rice enough, the Ravens turned around and used 35 running plays and 21 passing plays against a team whose rush defense is considerably stronger than its passing defense.
That's just dumb.
Reasonable to expect them to move the ball with RG3, yes. But I doubt many Baltimore fans were thinking "Crap, Griffen's hurt so now we've got to try and contain Kirk Cousins."
And I'm not defending Cameron, just saying this is an awfully strange time to make the move. You've clearly showed how there were issues long before now. I think there's a point where you give up major changes until the offseason to avoid creating a mess on the eve of the playoffs.
Well, I do notice the Ravens scored 28 on the Skins and the Giants got 16. Sure, they settled for field goals a couple of times, but still. They didn't constantly go deep but they surely did have success passing the ball. They were 50% for third downs too.
And if the complaint is they didn't get the ball to Rice enough, he had 20 carries, his sub had 8 (for 63) and the team had 35 runs (5 for Flacco, don't know how many were called) and 21 pass attempts, so that doesn't appear to be a valid concern, at least this week.
To me this is a dumb move. They were a flawed team, unlikely to win the Super Bowl, but mid-season firings are never good.
Ravens' D wasn't looking that hot even before all the injuries. They miss Chuck Pagano.
And Rex Ryan. And Greg Mattison. And Mike Nolan.
I attribute more to missing the DMVP of the league for almost the entire season. Players play, coaches don't.
Reminds me much of Philly firing Castillo earlier this year. When there's trouble, fire the guy on the side of the ball that's actually producing? Mind you, the O was pretty awful against Pittsburgh a week ago, but again, Charlie Batch was walking all over the D in the same game. It's like the NFL is taking management tips from Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss.
But the problem with the Ravens' defense is not the coaching. The defense is missing Ray Lewis, Ladarius Webb, and Terrell Suggs. That's a personnel issue, not a coaching issue. And this defense was #1 in the NFL last season (according to DVOA).
The timing on this is pretty bad, but most people who follow the Ravens on a regular basis seem to agree that Cameron really did need to go.
Can't say I'm surprised that he's fired, just surprised it took so long. He had his WRs run isolation routes and they aren't fast enough/strong enough to beat man coverage. Cameron didn't help out QB or WR with playcalling. No bunch formations, no shifts or motion, no formation changes, etc. in short, no adjustments. Very Air Coryell-esque, but without the talent or genius.
The other thing I'm surprised is the Ravens offense looked TOTALLY different from the offense he called in San Diego with Brees and Rivers. Talk about shifts, motions, and audibles. Makes me think Marty Schottenheimer had a bigger hand in the offense than I thought.
Could be poor timing by the Chargers putting up some points on the Steelers. If I pretend I know what I'm talking about, I believe the offense Cam runs is very similar to what SD runs. The Ravens can't seem to score much against the Steelers.
If it isn't the sytem, it must be the play caller.
Yes, you are correct. Both Cameron and Turner run the Air Coryell-style of offense. Turner was the O-coordinator years ago in SD, Cameron kept the same system, and Turner was brought in as HC to "maintain continuity".
The main difference between the two teams is that San Diego found a receiver that can win those isolation routes one-on-one, while the Ravens did not.
Maybe he doesn't trust the qb.
Makes me think Marty Schottenheimer had a bigger hand in the offense than I thought.
Or Harbaugh does.
This might be needed to quell chaos; I'd have to believe the offensive mess of the past few weeks couldn't have caused a good atmosphere.
And to all the "he was a lousy head coach, so why make him a coordinator" crowd, here's a name a few folks might remember when they're not guzzling Yuengling -- Dick LeBeau. Anyone want to dredge up his head coaching performance in Cincinnati?
Except LeBeau was already a renowned coordinator before he got his HC job - in fact, it was why he got the HC job. Caldwell, as far as I know, has no such record of accomplishment. As far as I know, he's never been the primary play-caller before.
Dick LeBeau was a DC before he became a head coach. For quite a while.
Not really comparable to Caldwell.
This would be a legitimate line of reasoning if Caldwell had 14 years as an excellent NFL coordinator prior to his disastrous head coaching stint, rather than zero experience as a coordinator on any level, ever.
I can't wait to start making "The Ravens' offense is as lifeless as their offensive coordinator" jokes. Okay, I just started.
Don't forget to dust off the "An unblinking robot could call better plays than the Ravens OC...oh wait, they already have one calling the plays" jokes.
As this colts fan will tell you...trust me, Caldwell brought absolutely NOTHING to the table. Absolutely nothing. Peyton Manning ran those practices.
In some ways that was best--if he was an egomaniac intent on putting his stamp on things it would have been worse. But in terms of contribution, you are right--gave nothing. Somewhere between sad and funny watching Manning on the field wildly taking charge while Caldwell stood on the sideline, looking like a confused child, not quite deer in headlights, but not quite inspiring.
Coming from a Colts fan, we can assume that you also saw Peyton feed a multitude with a fishwich and a grape Nehi. Having looked in on the Indy Star sports comment threads over the last several years, I can say with confidence that the worst people to judge anything St Peyton touches would be Colts fans.
Is this supposed to be funny?
Maybe the ravens are hoping for a similar thing, but with ray rice being in charge?
Well I feel better about that Baltimore game next week.
At least three references in this thread to Caldwell's head coaching tenure in Indy as a disaster...Colts DVOA under Caldwell: 16.5%, 1.3%, -32%. That's including a conference championship and an obvious asterisk in the last year. Indy this year: -19.6%. I'm not saying the guy is the next Bill Walsh but the data does not support a "disastrous" label. Mediocre may be more appropriate.
And in Dungy's last six years, the DVOA of the Colts was 22.4%, 25.9%, 32.1%, 16.3%, 28.3%, and 15.0%. Caldwell's 1.3% looks very much out of place compared to the rest of the Peyton Manning years in Indy.
One could argue that in the first year without the previous head coach, a great team is able to coast on good talent and simply doing what was working before. See Barry Switzer's Cowboys and Bill Calahan's Raiders for other semi-recent examples.
Siefert's first year SB in SF after Walsh left, too.
And Ray Handley's first year with the post-SB Giants...oh, yeah.
Switzer's first three years exceeded Johnson's last year in DVOA before a fall to 4.9% (but 6-10). They didn't improve all that much in the rest of Aikman's tenure despite coaching changes. By DVOA Switzer had one mediocre season. Seems to me Switzer is being blamed for an overall decline in team talent/age.
Callahan had one good season better than Gruden's last, then one bad season. But the year following, the Raiders only improve a couple points of DVOA, and stayed the same the year after that. Maybe Gruden could have glued things together for another playoff season, maybe not, but there is little reason to believe he could have. After all, the post-Super Bowl DVOAs of Tampa under Gruden observed a steep fall too.
Agree. Aging and injuries combined with a disappointing contribution from the draft account for the decrease, none of which had to do with Caldwell.
Why is it an asterisk in the last year? Because Manning wasn't playing? That's one of the main points of the narrative -- that Caldwell's only coaching "skill" was the ability to stay out of Peyton Manning's way, and that he was useless without Manning. The data agrees with that narrative.
Couldn't the same be said about Dungy? Its not like the colts defense was ever good?
He just had the great fortune of Peyton being healthy.
As most of my fellow Raven supporters will tell you, this had to happen.
The logic is simple: Flacco is trying to get paid alot of money this offseason. Our offense looks as inconsistent with moments of brilliance as it did last year. The ravens cant afford to risk 16M a year on Flacco if they dont know what they have. he's not developing more than last year so we'll see what the next 3 games + playoffs brings. Flacco is probably going to be franchised unless he accepts the team's offer on the table (my guess its around 13-15M)
The team was regressing. The PIT and WAS game demonstrated that. Hell, the SD and first PIT game demonstrated that. Our D is decimated by injury. The logic is that the offense has to carry the team. its not. So you have to do something to shake it up. Sure its weird timing, but lets face it, we looked like we were going to get hammered in a divisional round game (or heck maybe upset in a wild card round). Despite being 9-2, 9-3, 9-4 something felt off with us. Our horrible possession in overtime is a great example of that.
Main problem for the Ravens is that Ray Rice remains their best offensive player and it's near impossible to win it all (even getting to a SB is pretty difficult) in today's NFL if your best offensive player isn't your qb. It's was pretty improbable when they Ravens did what they did twelve years ago and the 2012 Ravens' D wasn't exactly the 2000 D even before the injuries. Swapping out Cameron for Caldwell isn't likely to change that and, as others have pointed out, it could actually makes things worse.
The reality is that last season is likely as close as the Ravens are going to get to the SB with Flacco as their qb. He played well overall (against a very weak secondary, but still) and the Ravens had NE beat, but Evans couldn't hang on to that pass. And then, to twist the knife in further, Cundiff misses a 32-yarder and they don't even get overtime.
I'm a little late to the party and haven't read all the other posts, so please excuse both of those factors when reading:
I think anyone who watches the Ravens every week thought that Cam had to go. Is the line shaky? Does Flacco still not have good awareness/pocket presence and inconsistency? Yes to both. However, there was no denying the predictability of the Ravens' offense with Cam (see FO's write-up of the Ravens in the 2012 almanac).
I most people wanted this move, though yes, the timing is kind of weird. Like someone said above, they need to see if the offense isn't really working or if it can be attributed to either the OC or the QB. They seem to think one or the other might be holding them back, so it's obviously easier to get rid of Cameron, give Flacco a shot without him (probably the rest of this year plus a franchise tag next year) and see what happens.
I agree, fwiw. I wrote a whole article for an audience of no one comparing Flacco and Drew Brees' development/stats with Cameron as an OC. Yes, Baltimore is this invested in finally having a QB we can get behind.
This is very peculiar. Here's why:
Many people in Indianapolis know that "Jim Caldwell" was actually a wax dummy of Tony Dungy which was intended for a display in the Hall of Fame. It melted in shipment and so was christened "Jim," and set up on the Colts sideline after Dungy retired(since Manning was running the team anyway.)
After Manning left, the Colts knew they needed to save money for a new quarterback, so some people from Disney were hired to equip "Jim" with a few lifelike coaching behaviors, such as calling for time-outs and punts.
Once the 2011-12 season was over and Andrew Luck and a proper coaching staff were signed, "Jim" was supposed to be melted down into souvenir cups and/or mouth guards. I'm shocked that they shipped him to Baltimore. Maybe the Ravens have similar plans. Watch for big changes in Baltimore next year. Also lots of souvenir cups.
As a Ravens fan who wants them to have a Super Bowl chance, I am ecstatic with this move!!!
Is Johnson capable of NFL brilliance? Burst will ultimately tell the tale.
See All XP | NFL XP | College XP
© Football Outsiders, Inc. // Site powered by Stein-Wein // Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties