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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Overtime Oversight

At 4th and 29, I will aim to be a positive source concerning all things Ravens football.  I have too much respect for athletes to berate them for something that I could not and can not pull off myself.  I will point out weaknesses that I can see in our opponents, and positively promote areas where I believe that we can excel.

With the recent firing of Cam Cameron, offensive coordinator, I have read from a number of sources about the sentiment that players now have no excuses and will have to step up.  This has especially been said of Joe Flacco.  And while I am in strong support of Coach Harbaugh's decision to release Cameron, I will admit that Flacco has his own challenges that were not the direct fault of Cameron.  One that stuck out in this last game was the final pass attempt of overtime, where Joe had the infamous "phantom 360" while looking for a defender.  On this play, we could have at least gotten the first down, and at most scored a touchdown, had Joe remained true to his "Joe Cool" moniker and looked downfield instead of locking in on the idea of running.

I apologize for the quality of these photos; Coaches Film does not tend to major in quality.

Here is the initial look: one safety over the top, a man look, strong safety approaching the line.  3rd down and 6 from the 32.

Once Joe gave a false cadence, the defense totally revealed their intentions.  They must've been tired.  The corner scooted in to blitz alongside the strong safety, who had run up to the line; the inside backer prepared to slide out to cover the slot.  Joe saw this and helped the line make the blocking adjustments.

Now, THIS is Cam Cameron's fault: after max-protecting for this formation, the patterns for the play were completely vanilla and no one was remotely open.  The arrows represent their patterns.  I do not understand why an all-fly is a supposed answer on a 3rd and 6.  Was Pitta's hook supposed to come open?

This next pic is the part where Joe did not have his best reaction.  He avoided the rush and did the 360.  At that point, he locked in on the idea of running and focused on trying to fake the linebacker, 17 yards downfield but closing on a beeline, out.  I wonder if Joe realized where the line of scrimmage was at this point.  He was still far behind it, and could have  continued to think throw.

This is the point where two Ravens became wide open.  Joe is the starred player.  Notice how he had a lot of space between him and any defender.  The rear pursuit had just come off block a split second earlier.  Joe could have reset himself to throw.  Ray Rice peeled off of his block to Joe's left and had about 20 yards between him and a defender.  Who knows what he could have turned this reception into if Joe had flipped it his way; at least a first down.  The more compelling development was Anquan Boldin's adjustment.  He began crossing the field, in his trail the safety and linebacker.  He had a good two steps on them, raised his hand to call for it, but Joe was tunnel-visioned.  Had Joe set himself about a half second before this photo, his look would have fooled the underneath corner, Joe would have stepped into delivering a strike to Boldin, and Q could very well have taken it to the house.  I see him getting at least 20 more yards here--at the very least.

 Perhaps one thing that Cameron's departure will do is free Joe to make decisions on the fly in situations like these.  Perhaps he felt too restrained and would be ridiculed for making bad decisions or non-Cameron decisions.  Now that he is free and will have the true support of the coaching staff to do his thing, we'll look to Joe to be more creative in these instances and deliver a great play.  He has it in him.  Now he will be free to let it out.