Cameron: 'I take full responsibility'

OWINGS MILLS -- It was an especially bitter divorce from the Miami Dolphins for Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and that painful experience has been compounded by his former players airing dirty laundry following one of the worst seasons in NFL history.

The emotions from being fired by Bill Parcells after a 1-15 campaign last year in Cameron's lone season as the Dolphins' coach are bubbling right under the surface, but the veteran coach bit his tongue Thursday as he prepares for his return to Miami.

It's an unwanted position of intense scrutiny for a low-key, deeply religious Indiana native who prefers to work behind the scenes.

"I take full responsibility for what took place down there, and I've never put it anywhere else," Cameron said during a 20-minute interview with Baltimore reporters. "I put it square on my own shoulders. With that being said, I think things happen for a reason and I'm thrilled to be here in Baltimore. It's a tough business, but if you can take responsibility for your actions and what you do, you can go and still do great things.

"I think the more times you can look in the mirror and say, 'Could I have done a better job?' you take accountability, take responsibility and you continue to grow no matter what the circumstances hold. I take full responsibility for what happened there. End of story. Now, this game is about the team. For me personally, it's about this offense getting better."

Cameron drew heavy criticism from Dolphins players this week when Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended his friend's coaching ability, a supportive comment that inadvertently set off a locker room that doesn't seem to have gotten over last season.

''He was an effective coach down in Miami last year, even though the results weren't what people were hoping for,'' Harbaugh said during a conference call with Miami reporters. ``He did a great job there with what he had to work with.''

That remark angered Miami wide receiver Greg Camarillo, who called it a personal insult.

And Dolphins defensive captain Vonnie Holliday chimed in with this cutting response to South Florida reporters.

"With what he had to work with? That's the key, huh?" Holliday said. "What did we have to work with as players? It's clear this year we have a direction.

"We have a plan in place, and that's largely attributed to coach Parcells and coach Tony Sparano. That's a big difference in leadership and who is out front."

One of the few players who declined to take a shot at Cameron was outspoken outside linebacker Joey Porter

However, it was Porter who profanely confronted Cameron during a team meeting prior to the season finale last year.

Defensive tackle Keith Traylor got into a fight last year on the team plane with offensive linemen Vernon Carey and Rex Hadnot following a late-season loss to the New England Patriots. Although Cameron didn't discipline Traylor immediately, he suspended him a day later.

"That's when he lost me," said Holliday, adding that Cameron's slow-burning feud with former star defensive end Jason Taylor was another major issue. "There were various times over the season, incidents, where this coaching staff started losing this team.

"Slowly but surely, he ended up losing everybody, maybe except for one or two guys. At the end, the whole situation that transpired with the Keith Traylor incident, that was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Holliday said that a series of disputes between Cameron and veteran players led to players-only meetings with Taylor and former Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas.

"As ugly as it got last year, it could have gotten uglier," Holliday said. "I think guys tried to hang in there right up until the end. It was tough. But going into that last game, after everything that had transpired with Keith Traylor, I think that was really when the pulse of the team was gone."

Added safety Yeremiah Bell: "I feel like he lost the team a little bit as it was going on. Somewhere along the line that him being the head coach and the team, it kind of got separated a little bit. You could see guys weren't into it."

Holliday also took exception to Cameron's motivational message, saying it didn't resonate with the players.

"He definitely just missed the mark," Holliday said. "You get mired in the muck and you can't see the forest for the trees and that happened last year. Football is about winning and losing and what's your approach to get there. And we didn't have it."

For Cameron, being in Baltimore represents a new situation and a fresh start as he works diligently to try to overhaul the Ravens' traditionally stagnant offense while developing strong-armed rookie quarterback Joe Flacco.

So far, the results haven't been what Cameron has wanted with Baltimore ranked 25th in total offense and relying heavily on the seventh-ranked running game as Flacco has thrown seven interceptions with one touchdown pass. Nonetheless, there's a sense around town that the play-calling is improving over the Brian Billick regime.

Asked repeatedly about what transpired in Miami, Cameron kept changing the subject back to the task at hand: preparing for Sunday.

When asked if he thought it was unfair that he only got one season to put his imprint on the Dolphins franchise, Cameron replied: "I appreciate that question, I do, but we've got some work that we've got to do offensively.

"Yesterday is gone, and I think more often than not you can survive in this business if you can focus. Learn from the past and focus on today becau se that's what we're going to demand of our players. If I'm not doing that, then how in the world can I demand our guys do that?"

When asked what lessons he gleaned from a 1-15 season, Cameron ducked again.

"Another great question," Cameron said. 'I really appreciate these questions. I've made it really clear where my focus is. Maybe there is a time and place for that. In our situation right now, with what we're trying to do as a team, it's about us."

Cameron declined to point out that Parcells has gotten rid of nearly half of last year's roster, a telling maneuver that speaks louder than words that the inadequate personnel on last year's Dolphins squad had a lot to do with the shortcomings.

At one point, Cameron acknowledged that he may have a bit of extra motivation and emotion heading into Sunday's kickoff. Although he initially said it wouldn't matter to him if this game were being played in Nome, Alaska, that doesn't seem to capture how he really feels.

"I think that would just make sense, I think that would make sense for all of us," Cameron said. "It was emotional. All of our games are emotional to a degree. Those competitive juices get flowing. I would say there's something to that."

Standing inside the Ravens' indoor practice field with several reporters crowded around him, Cameron paused for a long time before pausing again in mid-answer when asked whether he wanted to be a head coach again.

Despite the chaos of last year in South Florida as the plans Cameron tried to implement went awry and several injuries further exacerbated a bad situation, it sounds like he hasn't soured completely on the idea of running his own football team again some day.

"I've always approached that with a sole focus of what I'm asked to do," Cameron said. "I'm going to do the best job I can as a Baltimore Raven to help the Baltimore Ravens win a championship, if not more. That is my focus. That being said, I understand now more than ever why so many guys have left here and gone on to be head coaches because of the experience that they're afforded here with our owner, our general manager and the people in this organization.

"It prepares guys to be head coaches like no place I've been. So, you can look at that how you would like, but I'm a guy that's going to be learning from everything that's being done here. At the same time, I know why I'm here. I've got a great friend that I'm working for. I'm going to do everything I can to help this man and this organization win a championship."

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