week, the Baltimore Ravens will face the Miami Dolphins at Dolphin Stadium
(1:00pm ET, CBS). Few will ever forget the last time the Ravens visited the
those living in an alternate reality, the Ravens represented the Dolphins’ only
victory in 2007. “Scat-Left-Ernie” has since gone down in team history as the
play that saved the Dolphins from everlasting 0-16 infamy.
man who called that play was former head coach Cam Cameron. As you know,
Cameron was a casualty of Bill Parcells’ season-ending purge which was expected
given Cam’s 1-15 record and little tangible evidence
of progress towards a winning future.
am dredging this up because Cameron is now the offensive coordinator of the
aforementioned Ravens. His job this weekend is to bring more pain and
aggravation to the faithful. Unfortunately, his return also brings back the bad
memories from last season’s 1-15 debacle.
a personal level, Cameron is a good guy and, as Dolphin coach, I believe his heart
was in the right place. He inherited the smoldering pieces left in the wake of
Nick Saban’s unsavory departure, and did what he thought was best to move the
team forward. He professed his family’s happiness in being in South
Florida. He was patient with the press and fans, despite withering
criticism. And he defended his players from that criticism for the most part,
even when they deserved to get the full broadside.
an offensive guru in San Diego,
he built a stellar reputation which caught the eye of NFL insiders and convinced
Wayne Huizenga to offer him the Dolphin job. In hindsight, Huizenga’s failure
was in failing to recognize that Cameron was simply not ready to be a head
coach. Team president Bryan Wiedmeier and former general manager Randy Mueller
misjudged him, too.
not being ready isn’t a sin. There are a lot of guys like that in the NFL, some
of which are current head coaches. Some guys are just born to be coordinators.
Cameron and last year’s defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, are perfect
Cameron’s case, his lack of readiness was evident from the beginning as he was
overwhelmed with issues and under-responded to them. He was also overly
stubborn on some things, which only served to alienate players and coaches. Not
surprisingly, trouble was sown right away.
program: It was too soft, made worse by the fact that players were lax in
taking ownership of their own proper conditioning. In general, the players
weren’t worked hard enough. This extended into training camp, and the
preseason. The consequences manifested immediately with an embarrassing season-opening
loss in the heat to the Washington Redskins. Not surprisingly, a spate
of devastating injuries to his best players soon followed as poorly conditioned
athletes are more susceptible to injury.
The decision to eschew the hiring of a dedicated offensive coordinator to
oversee the installation of a new system, and the decision to cede broad authority
to Capers, who made inexplicable changes to the defensive system that Saban
installed, was a leadership disaster.
Cameron and Mueller’s lone draft together was widely panned from start when the
QB-starved team passed on Brady Quinn and instead drafted Ted Ginn, Jr. The final
verdict on that decision is still pending, but the early returns don’t look
good. That’s not to say that they should have drafted Quinn, who really doesn’t
look any better than John Beck. Indeed, we’ve seen enough of Ginn to know that
the guy can be explosive. Nevertheless, it does seem clear that Ginn was
overvalued with the 9th overall pick.
Quarterback Situation: On the heels of the draft, the QB situation was further
exacerbated with the mishandling of the Daunte Culpepper/Trent Green
transition. The issue was compounded early on with criticism from Jason Taylor,
who foretold Green’s season-ending concussion with his now infamous “scrambled
eggs” prediction that made perfect sense at the time, but only annoyed Cameron.
An embarrassing training camp ban on Culpepper distracted the team further.
the fallout from all of the above began to pop, Cameron lost his locker room
strained to show a positive public face through it all, though no one doubted
that he and Cameron just didn’t see eye-to-eye on things. Taylor, arguably the
greatest defender in team history, lost faith in the Dolphins as a result and
subsequently quit on them this year.
of these facts are well known, and strike a sharp contrast with the current
regime. No doubt Cameron feels that he did the best he could given the
circumstances at the time, and probably would change some things had Parcells and
GM Jeff Ireland given him the chance at a second season. Still, we can fully
expect that Cameron would like nothing more than to stick it to Parcells and Ireland by
having his Ravens post a strong offensive performance and getting the W.
his prerogative, even though any objective observer would quickly conclude that
Cam’s Dolphins were a mess, a reflection of poor
leadership at the top.
frankly, Cameron owes the Dolphins, and the fans, an apology for the pain of
last season. Maybe one day he’ll give one. For now, a Dolphin win over his
Ravens would be just fine.