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.
The timing of the move is somewhat surprising because Baltimore remains on course for its second straight AFC North title — and fifth straight playoff appearance — despite being mired in its first losing streak since October 2009.
It's not about fair or unfair, right or wrong. My responsibility is to the whole team and what's best for them right now, Harbaugh said. We need a change. Our plan and our goals are to win games, win our division and get to the playoffs.
Harbaugh believes the move will enable the Ravens to reach those objectives.
With our coaches and players, the solution is in the building, he said. We are going to make the most of our opportunities going forward, and this change gives us a better possibility to achieve our goals.
Baltimore (9-4) scored seven points after halftime Sunday in a 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins. Quarterback Joe Flacco passed for only 182 yards, lost a fumble and was intercepted in the third quarter.
Baltimore's running game ranks 17th in the NFL despite the presence of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who has topped the 100-yard rushing mark only three times (compared to six times last year). Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011.
Flacco, meanwhile, has been erratic while operating the no-huddle attack and has showed little improvement from a year ago.
Flacco has committed pivotal turnovers in the last two games, but those defeats can be attributed heavily to the defense. Two weeks ago, the injury-riddled unit couldn't stop Pittsburgh Steelers third-string quarterback Charlie Batch in a 23-20 loss, and the Redskins moved downfield rather easily during a beat-the-clock touchdown drive in the waning minutes of regulation.
Cameron, 51, went 1-15 as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2007 before being chosen by Harbaugh to run the Baltimore offense. The Ravens made the playoffs in each of his previous four seasons, and under his direction Flacco became the team's career leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.
Harbaugh worked as an assistant coach for Cameron in 1997 at Indiana. After taking over for Brian Billick in Baltimore, one of his first moves was to hire Cameron.
There is a very human side to this. Cam is my friend, he taught me a lot about coaching, and he is an outstanding coach, Harbaugh said. Personally, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do as a coach. Cam has been a significant contributor to all of our successes over the past four, almost five, seasons. Deservedly, he is highly-regarded, and we owe thanks to him for what he did for the Ravens.
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 Denver Broncos (9-4).