A year ago, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti declared that he looked forward to seeing how embattled offensive coordinator Cam Cameron would perform under fire.
Now, Bisciotti proclaimed that he's pleased with the results from last season and going forward with Cameron on the staff despite a chorus of critics.
Since Bisciotti assumed majority ownership of the team from Art Modell eight years ago, last season marked the highest scoring offense and total offense statistically during that span.
The Ravens finished 12th in scoring offense, averaging 23.6 points and 15th in total offense with 338.7 yards per contest
" I'm looking at these trends, and a logical businessman would say that we're making progress," Bisciotti said. "So, I don't know if I have a message for that 10 percent of the fans with that vitriol. I just don't have an answer for them. I just don't. I'm sorry."
Five seasons ago, the Ravens ranked 17th in total offense and 12th in scoring offense with the late quarterback Steve McNair under center.
"We were elated, if you remember," Bisciotti said.
And the Ravens improved markedly from their 2010 campaign when they finished 22nd in total offense and averaged 322.9 yards and 16th in scoring offense when they averaged 22.3 points.
Bisciotti wanted to see improvement from the running game and Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Ravens finished 10th in rushing offense, gaining 124.8 yards per game after finishing 14th in 2010 when they averaged 114.4 yards.
About the only area where there was marginal progress was in the passing game as quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 3,610 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
The Ravens went up one spot in passing offense, climbing to 19th overall and averaged 213.9 passing yards per game after finishing 20th in 2010 with 208.4 passing yards per game.
"We think our numbers are going to continue to go forward," Bisciotti said. "We think Joe and Cam together will get that done in year five rather than scrapping that, getting a new offensive coordinator, trying to install a new system. I think they're getting pretty comfortable with each other."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was adamant that holding onto Cameron was the right move, and he didn't encounter resistance from Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome.
The only major change so far was hiring former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, Peyton Manning's former position coach, as quarterbacks coach.
"It's not as much about retaining Cam as much as it is, are we headed in the right direction in this offense?" Newsome said. "We are headed in the right direction. Are we satisfied with where we are right now? No. But we think the best way to get there is to maintain the continuity of having Cam, bringing in someone like Jim Caldwell to bring in another set of eyes with that."
After seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers not retain offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and watching Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano become the Indianapolis Colts' new head coach, change wasn't what Bisciotti was looking for on the coaching staff.
"This is just a carousel out there," Bisciotti said. "The Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator is let go, and then somebody else wants him. And defensive coordinators are going back and forth and are getting fired and rehired in different spots all the time.
"It's not like we have a Triple-A system where those people are batting .400 and everybody knows that it's time to move them up to the big leagues. To go out and get a position coach and make him an offensive coordinator and find out that he wasn't better than what you had … That's all I'm saying."
The Ravens averaged 23rd in yards per game with 296 yards per contest from 2004 to 2007, exceeding that figure during Flacco's four seasons as starting quarterback.
Flacco has gone 44-20 in the regular season, never missing a start.
And Flacco has passed for 13,816 yards, 80 touchdowns and 46 interceptions for an 86.0 quarterback rating.
"I guess what I'm saying is we want to have a better offense, but if you flip the switch too quick, then you're giving up 27 points per game," Bisciotti said. "So, I'm not going to be trading Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb for [Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry] Fitzgerald because that's the quickest way to get there.
"I think we're making improvement. When you look at 2006, we had a Pro Bowl guy in his 30's and then he got hurt, hurt, hurt in 2007. So, we got one good year out of Steve McNair. We got four good years out of Joe. He's trending up."
Although Flacco outplayed New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC championship game as he passed for 306 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Brady tossed two interceptions with no touchdowns, he was under considerable scrutiny all season.
Flacco was essentially called out by free safety Ed Reed after he had a solid against the Houston Texans where he had two touchdowns and no interceptions while being sacked five times.
Known for his stoic personality, Flacco rarely shows emotion.
And Bisciotti theorizes that might be why Flacco is so often under fire.
"I think that it is perceived as a weakness when you're young, and yet, we had John Unitas here and he didn't scream and yell at people, either," Bisciotti said. "A lot of people take offense that Joe doesn't get mad at wide receivers, like literally, when the camera is on them and they drop balls. And Joe said, ‘I don't expect them to yell at me when I throw at their ankles sometime. That's just part of the game, and they're not going to get over it quicker if I yell at them.'
"That's just not good enough for people. They're like, ‘Bad answer,' and I'm thinking that was a pretty good answer. People want to see fire in their athletes. We know Joe has it, but should we get him a coach and tell him to fake it and be a ‘rah-rah' guy and the next thing, he's focused on something other than what we want him to focus on? I think he is going to be extremely successful, and I think he's going to have rings, and I think he's got 10 years of his prime to show it, and I think that he will be rewarded for his personality in the long run, and hopefully our fans will, too."
Ravens make it official, hire Martindale to coach inside linebackers
John Harbaugh reached back into his connections, hiring former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale as the Baltimore Ravens' new inside linebackers coach.
Martindale's coaching roots with the Harbaugh family includes coaching the linebackers and special teams at Western Kentucky for Harbaugh's father, Jack Harbaugh, when the Hilltoppers won the Division I-AA national championship.
And John Harbaugh and Martindale were on the same University of Cincinnati staff when Martindale coached former Ravens linebacker Brad Jackson.
Martindale, 49, replaces Dean Pees, who was promoted last week to defensive coordinator to fill the vacancy created when Chuck Pagano became the Indianapolis Colts' head coach.
"Don brings extensive pro and college experience to the Ravens, and he has been a defensive coordinator at both levels," Harbaugh said. "He's known for his hard work, intelligence and thorough teaching, and his players have always responded well to his coaching. He'll earn the respect of our players. I'm confident about that."
Martindale was recruited by the Ravens three years ago when he was the Oakland Raiders' linebackers coach and interviewed for the Raiders' head coaching job.
He has previous collegiate experience at Notre Dame, Western Illinois and Defiance College.
"I am excited to be part of a great team and great organization like the Ravens," Martindale said. "When I got the call, it was a no-brainer. There has always been a great defense here, led by tremendously talented players and coaches, and I am thrilled to be a part of a proven system."
NOTE: The Ravens announced that Ted Monachino will oversee the entire linebacking unit and still coach the outside linebackers.
All-Pro outside linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded a career-high 14 sacks last season and led the NFL with seven forced fumbles, setting a new franchise record
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