Harbaugh addresses decision to change offensive coordinators

One overtime loss and two tight defeats in a row weren’t what precipitated the Ravens’ decision to part ways with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Monday morning.

Coach John Harbaugh made sure to get that message across when meeting with the media this afternoon. Harbaugh spent more time praising Cameron than he did providing specifics about why the change was made, with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell taking over the position.

But Harbaugh went out of his way to say this wasn’t a reactionary move.

“We put 28 points up (Sunday), so you’re not going to say it’s a reaction to a down offensive performance. It’s not that,” Harbaugh said. “I think that’s really important to point out. It would be really easy to go the route that it’s the result of something and somebody is taking the blame for something. It is not that.

“People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. Cam was doing a heck of a job here. He was doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”

The Ravens rank 18th in the NFL in total offense and ninth in points per game. The highest the team ranked in yards under Cameron was 13th.

Specifics were few and far between, if not non-existent, when Harbaugh fielded questions about altering Baltimore’s coaching staff.

Harbaugh’s comments about the fired Cameron sounded more like a job reference than anything else.

“I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last almost five years as an offensive coordinator. I think the record proves that,” Harbaugh said. “When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense over the last four years, the games that have been one, the points that have been scored and really by every measurement, Cam is a very good football coach.

“He’s a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously it’s a difficult thing personally to make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years and Cam’s been right in there battling. He’s been a member of this team and I’m proud of what he’s accomplished here.”

Harbaugh was also pretty vague in his reasons for choosing Caldwell as Cameron’s replacement.

Caldwell has never served as an offensive coordinator in 35 years of coaching at the professional and collegiate levels.

He is an accomplished quarterbacks coach, having worked with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Brad Johnson in Tampa Bay before coming to work with Joe Flacco in Baltimore. He has been a head coach in college and in the pros - with Wake Forest University and from 2009-11 with the Colts.

But Caldwell now takes over an offense for the first time, assuming play-calling duties in addition to remaining the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach.

“Jim is qualified. Jim is a heck of a coach,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got a heck of a staff and they’ll do a great job, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

“He brings a lot to the table. Guys are excited about it.”

Harbaugh was least forthcoming about how and why the team made the decision.

Asked whether Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti suggested the move, Harbaugh said, “I’m not getting into any of that. We do a great job in this organization of communicating and talking, and we’ve got great leadership here all across the board, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

Caldwell also took a turn at the podium, but only to make a statement in front of the cameras.

“I certainly agreed to take on the challenge,” Caldwell said. “We have a real fine unit and certainly great coaches and a great system.

“I had an opportunity to talk with (the players) and really, in a nutshell, I just tried to make them understand that really what we’re trying to do is get that much better,” he said, holding his right index finger and thumb about an inch apart. “That’s about it. That’s a difficult task, obviously, trying to get that done in this league. But that’s what we’re shooting for.

“It’s not a system change. Obviously, the Ravens’ offense is the Ravens’ offense. It’s not a philosophical change. John sets the philosophy here of this team and we follow suit. We have a bunch of willing young men that are certainly going to do a tremendous job of trying to push us forward.”