Late for Work 2/3: Saunders: Baltimore Should Appreciate Cam

Plus no deal’s imminent after meeting with Gaither, who’s now dubbed Baltimore’s savior. ¬†

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 at 9:10 am | Categories: 2011 NFL Draft, Sarah Ellison

Saunders: Baltimore Should Appreciate Cam

Al Saunders has already left Baltimore to begin his new journey as offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.

But as the Ravens’ former senior offensive assistant last season, Saunders had a front row seat to the inner-workings of the Ravens’ 2010 offense and the oft-criticized Cam Cameron.

With 40 years of coaching experience (nearly 30 in the NFL), Saunders has formulated his opinion on Cameron and how he should be perceived in Ravens land.

Baltimore should appreciate [Cameron's] job there,” Saunders said on FOX 1370 Sports Radio yesterday. “Because the grass is always greener on the other side.

“And I guarantee there is not a better guy for that job in that situation than Cam. And I say that in all earnest and all honesty.”

Saunders explained that one of the main reasons he came to Baltimore last season was because of his relationship with Cameron. The two men battled for the top NFL offensive ranking when Cameron was the offensive coordinator in San Diego and Saunders led the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense.

Saunders’ offensive squad topped the league in 2004 and 2005. After Saunders left Kansas City, Cameron’s unit led the league in scoring in 2006.

So if both men were accustomed to leading explosive offenses, why didn’t the Ravens’ statistics soar, or at least not dip from 2009 to 2010?

According to Saunders, Cameron’s decisions were always in line with the direction of the overall Ravens’ program, which featured a strong, and often times, dominate defense.

“The thing that Cam brings to the staff that is so unique in the offensive coordinator position, is he is so much a team-oriented coach,” Saunders explained. “He calls plays and he directs and devises the offense so that it works in harmony with the defense.”

He added, “That’s probably one of the reasons I have so much respect for him, is that he allows the football team to function as a team. And he really structures and calls games to win that game in relation to playing to a strong defense. And that’s very, very hard to do as a coordinator.”

Saunders said often times there is a “great division” in staffs between offensive and defensive coordinators. It’s tempting for each coach to be statistically-oriented and want his unit to lead the league. He said all offenses want to be explosive, throw the ball down the field and be more imaginative.

But in close games, when you have a defense like the Ravens’, sometimes ball control and running the ball in “a very conservative fashion is the best way to give your team an opportunity to win.”

With quarterback Joe Flacco’s discontent with the release of Jim Zorn as the quarterbacks coach, many have been worried about the relationship between Cameron and Flacco moving forward.

Saunders said that as far as he was aware, their relationship was “outstanding.”

No Imminent Deal After Gaither Meeting

The meeting between the Ravens and offensive tackle Jared Gaither “apparently went fine” yesterday, but no deal for the pending free agent is imminent, reported Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times.

"Nothing cooking yet," a person with knowledge of the situation told Wilson.

The report added Gaither and Ravens brass will continue to talk, which isn’t surprising since both sides have said they would like to see Gaither stay in Baltimore.

 Once Scorned, Now Baltimore’s Savior

John Eisenberg hit the nail on the head when he explained the difference in Gaither’s reputation from training camp to the end of the season.

Seldom has a player’s reputation gotten so much better without stepping onto the field; initially scorned on radio talk shows and Internet bulletin boards when he went down, Gaither was being hailed as the savior by the end of the season,”¬† wrote Eisenberg.

I couldn’t help but look back at some of the comments on The Flock’s message boards to see how accurate Eisenberg’s assertion was. It’s certainly amusing.

After missing practices and games with controversial back pain and losing 30 pounds before training camp, many were ready to see if the Ravens could live without Gaither. Then, seeing the effect his absence had on the offensive line and running game, many wanted the 24 year old back.

I should say there were plenty of posts that aren’t as extreme as the ones below, but it’s fun to see the change in opinion. Thanks to all who post on the message boards.

Below are a few comments from Oct. 23, when Gaither was heading to Injured Reserve.

birdman20: “He is faking his injury trust me I know this for a fact, he is done being a raven thank goodness bye bye”

bmoregoonie: “good… he’ll never make no LT money with that bad back…. see gaither jokes on you.. u tried to play the ravens and ended up gettin hurt for real.. now no one will pay u!!!!! well if we dont give u a show n prove minimum deal which we wont cus Harbs is done with you!! have fun making a team!!”

Davecross04: “What he is suffering from is a common injury known and Fakeitus.. It’s usually caused by a unwilling movement from LEFT to RIGHT, and symptoms usually include a smaller contract, and lack of team concept.”

Here are few comments from yesterday’s Late for Work when fullback Le’Ron McClain defended Gaither’s toughness.

The Negotiator: “will be the first to say that I was wrong on Gaither. We need him back big time, he makes this line a great one. If Gaither is healthy I say sign him and let’s get the offence [sic]rolling. Ravens Football Baby WOOOOOOOOOOO! Fired UP”

Brwils: “The Ravens braintrust really hasn’t paid any attention to the fans, so far. But, please, guys, get over the ego issues and re-sign Gaither. He is 24. He is massive and he’s got skills. Save the draft pick for some other weakness.”

BirdsofPrey: “I see them signing him to a 1 or 2 yr deal to see how it goes. He is a stud, but is riddled with injuries so far. Let him play a season, then lock him down to a long term deal. We definately [sic] need him, and we definately [sic] need to strengthen the O-line. Joe needs as much time as humanly possible back there to go through his progressions.”

Defensive Lineman Dominate Kiper’s Top 25

ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s Big Board list of the top 25 draft prospects is dominated by a deep class of defensive linemen.

That could be good news for the Ravens if they are looking to beef up their pass-rushing efforts opposite outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. Defensive ends and outside linebackers gobbled up nine of Kiper’s top 25 spots.

“With so much talent at the position, you have to think some teams with that need, but holding onto early picks, will pursue the option to trade down,” said Kiper.

Other Ravens potential positional needs weren’t as deep on Kiper’s Big Board, including receiver (three), corner (two) and offensive tackle (four).

Kiper’s top receivers: Georgia’s A.J. Green, Alabama’s Julio Jones, Maryland’s Torrey Smith
Top corners: LSU’s Patrick Peterson, Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara
Top offensive tackles: Colorado’s Nate Solder, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi, USC’s Tyron Smith, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo


Quick Hits

  • RavensInsider: Billy Cundiff $14.7 million deal annual salaries are $1.5 million, $2.2 million, $2.3 million¬† $2.7 million and $3 million $3 million bonus [Twitter]

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