Cam Cameron: Ravens' offense can be elite
May, 11, 2010
By James Walker | ESPN.com
George Gojkovich/Getty ImagesBaltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has high expectations for his offense in 2010.The Baltimore Ravens are a proven defensive juggernaut.
But can they be a legitimate offensive juggernaut, too? Thanks to some key additions, Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron believes it's definitely possible.
"If we had our way, we'd like to lead the league in scoring and lead the league in ball security," Cameron said in a telephone interview with ESPN.com's AFC North blog. "I think being in the top five in that this year is realistic."
If Cameron's vision of an elite, high-scoring offense becomes a reality in Baltimore, the rest of the NFL has a major problem on its hands.
Few teams have the potential to be as stout on both sides of the football in 2010 as the Ravens.
The acquisition of three-time Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin and the growth of third-year standouts Ray Rice and Joe Flacco have Baltimore's offensive expectations at an all-time high. And the Ravens' stellar track record on defense is well-documented: They've ranked in the top six defensively for 10 of the past 11 years.
But despite Baltimore's consistent success, the franchise has struggled for years to win offensive shootouts. As recently as last season, teams like the Indianapolis Colts have given the Ravens fits because the opposing offense was good enough to put up points and the Ravens' offense couldn't keep pace.
This offseason, it was the goal of Baltimore's front office to put together a roster that could win in a variety of ways, which includes high-scoring affairs if necessary.
"There are going to be times during a game where the defense has to carry the offense, just because you have those days. And vice versa, when the offense has to carry the defense," Boldin told reporters during minicamp. "For me, I love to play with a great defense, because they get you the ball. As an offense, you want the ball as much as possible."
There has been plenty of debate in Baltimore about whether Cameron can keep everyone happy this season. With the exception of Flacco, every starting offensive skill player for the Ravens has at least one Pro Bowl on his résumé. That means there's plenty of talent but also plenty of egos to massage.
It was challenging enough in recent years to get adequate carries for Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain. Now the coaching staff has to worry about the running backs and an assortment of talented receivers and tight ends in the passing game.
One of the biggest tasks for Cameron this offseason is to determine well-defined roles for Rice, McGahee, McClain, Boldin, Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap and former first-round picks Donte' Stallworth and Mark Clayton. It will take a lot of work to fit all of those players under one scheme. But Cameron knows it's a good problem to have.
"Joe Flacco and I were talking the other day, and he said, 'Cam, we're not going to have any issues because we're going to be winning,'" Cameron said. "I thought that was a great statement by him. Guys just want to win, and they want to be involved in the game plan.
"I think we got an outstanding coaching staff, and we'll make sure every guy knows every week that they got a chance to help us win the game and help determine the outcome of the game."
Cameron added that Baltimore's staff is already discussing this topic with its players. It seems the Ravens are being very proactive with one of the few drawbacks that comes with being loaded with talent.
This offseason was about making sure Flacco has enough weapons to help fully reach his potential in his third season. In addition to adding Boldin and Stallworth, the Ravens also drafted pass-catching tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta to join Heap.
But Boldin is the centerpiece of Baltimore's newfound offensive optimism. Cameron said the receiver looked as good as advertised in minicamp and appears to be a natural fit. The Ravens plan to use Boldin similar to the way the Arizona Cardinals did by allowing him to utilize his ability to run after the catch.
"He's productive on all three downs, he's productive in the scoring zone and he's tough-minded, which is the Raven way," Cameron said. "He's fun to watch in practice. I'm really looking forward it."
There's a lot to look forward to this year if you're Cam Cameron. This is the deepest and most-talented offensive unit he's had in his three seasons in Baltimore.
On paper, the Ravens have the potential to be an elite offense.
If Cameron finds a way to make all of these pieces work together as a unit, it could be a special year in Baltimore.