OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Cam Cameron was fired Monday as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, who have lost two straight and are still striving for consistency in the running and passing game.
Cameron ran the Baltimore offense since the start of the 2008 season for coach John Harbaugh. Since that time, the Ravens' attack has repeatedly taken a back seat to the team's defense, and this year the offense ranks 18th with 344.4 yards per game.
Jim Caldwell, who was hired as quarterbacks coach before the season, will assume Cameron's duties. Caldwell was head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-11.
Harbaugh didn't give a detailed explanation for the move, which came less than 24 hours after the Ravens lost to the Redskins 31-28 in overtime.
We put 28 points up, so you're not going to say it's a reaction to a down offensive performance. It's not that. I think that's really important to point out, Harbaugh said. It's what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team.
Cam was doing a heck of a job here. He was doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we're going to do.
The move comes with the Ravens stuck in their first losing streak since they dropped three in a row in October 2009. Yet Baltimore (9-4) needs only one win to sew up its fifth straight playoff appearance and holds a two-game lead in the AFC North over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with three games to play.
I don't know that staying pat wouldn't have gotten us there, Harbaugh said. What you try to do is put yourself in the best position possible as you see it to be the best football team you can be and then go compete and go see what you can get accomplished.
Our first goal right now is to secure a playoff berth. Our second goal is to win the AFC North. That's squarely in our sights. Our next goal is to secure as high a playoff seed as we can. The next goal is to win playoff games, get to the Super Bowl and win that thing. I feel like this gives us the best chance to do that.
Caldwell, 57, was quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning at Indianapolis before taking over as head coach. He will make his NFL debut as an offensive coordinator on Sunday against the Manning and Denver Broncos (10-3).
I had an opportunity to talk with (the offense) and really, in a nutshell, I just tried to make them understand that what we're trying to do is get that much better, Caldwell said, holding his index finger and thumb about an inch apart. That's about it. That's a difficult task, obviously, trying to get that done in this league. But that's what we're shooting for. It's not a system change. Obviously the Ravens' offense is the Ravens' offense. It's not a philosophical change. John sets the philosophy here of this team and we follow suit.
Although Harbaugh refused to criticize Cameron, the Ravens' offense has sputtered at times this season. Baltimore scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions against the Redskins but managed only seven points after halftime. Fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 182 yards and committed two turnovers in the third quarter.
The move was made because it gives us a chance to be the best we can be, Harbaugh said. It's just an opportunity to try to get this thing going.
A person familiar with the decision says former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will rule Tuesday afternoon on the latest round of player appeals in the NFL's bounty probe, and that any potential punishment will be delayed by a week.
The person says the delay is designed to give a federal judge in New Orleans the opportunity to rule on pending motions to throw out the suspensions and remove Tagliabue as the appointed arbitrator for these player appeals to the league. The person spoke to The Associated Press Monday on condition of anonymity because no rulings have been announced.
The NFL's decision to delay potential sanctions for four current or former Saints means linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith may play Sunday when New Orleans hosts Tampa Bay.