Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ravens-Dolphins Preview: Cam Cameron returns to Miami

Many of us all remember last year's Ravens loss to the Miami Dolphins, which would turn out to be Miami's only win that season. Cam Cameron was head coach of the Dolphins and now as the Ravens offensive coordinator will return today. John Harbaugh has some interesting things to say in defense of Cameron's time in Miami:

"He was an effective coach last year. Even though the results weren't what people were hoping for, he did a great job there with what he had to work with." (from Yahoo Sports)

Now of course, the Miami players won't take kindly to this and probably will tack that comment right onto the board. But I like Harbaugh saying that. Stand up for your coach, who's been doing a great job helping your offense this year, especially Joe Flacco. After Cameron passed on Brady Quinn for Ted Ginn in the Draft, which in retrospect hasn't looked like a bad thing, Cameron was never treated with respect in Miami again. Here, Cameron is treated like who he is, a solid offensive mind who has trained quarterbacks to greatness.

On the NFL Today, Steve Beuerlein talked to John Harbaugh, and Coach Harbaugh told him that he and Cameron forgot to bring their helmets today, and they won't be on the field. I love this coach........

Now, to the game: the Ravens (2-3) have lost three straight and suffered their worst loss of the year last week when the Colts beat them down 31-3. Worse, the injuries are continuing to pile up. The Dolphins (2-3) are a wacky team that employs a pretty nuts offense, but has been effective at times. They have won two of their last three games; that one loss to Houston by one point.

Things We're Wondering:
-Joe Flacco has really started to look like a rookie the past two games, and the Ravens lack of success is reflecting that. Not that we didn't expect this from Flacco, since he is still adjusting to the NFL from I-AA play, but first two Ravens game all gave us a lot of hope. Teams are starting to blitz him more and force him out of the pocket more. Miami has a solid running defense, but they are 29th in the league in passing yardage allowed. Flacco needs to have a solid day in the air. No doubt Cameron will stick with the conservative play of primarily running the football, but Flacco will need to keep the defense honest.

-What Miami are we going to see? The Miami that can put up 28+ points, or less than 14? Chad Pennington has new life in Miami, though not flashy he has done a decent job through the air. Six players have double digit catches. The good thing for the Ravens is that Fabian Washington should be able to play, which will put him at the 2nd-CB position over Frank Walker. We saw last week when Corey Ivy was put at nickel back, the Cots threw the ball his direction all day. Miami's passing game vs. the Ravens secondary will be interesting to watch today.

The Analysis:
-Ravens offense vs. Miami defense: Even
Miami's defense matches up well against the Ravens offense. The Ravens like to run very often, and Miami has a solid run defense. The Ravens have had trouble throwing the ball, but Miami has a bad secondary. This might all land on Flacco's shoulders. If he has a good day, everything will be put into place. If he has a bad day, the entire offense will. Willis McGahee will have a lot of his shoulders as well for obvious reasons.

On the defensive side for Miami, former Steeler/cheapshot Joey Porter already has 6.5 sacks on the year, and Channing Crowder has 38 tackles from the corps. So far Miami has forced seven turnovers. Overall, an average defense with more prevalence on the running game.

-Miami offense vs. Ravens defense: Ravens
The Ravens continue to be first in the league in yards allowed per game in both rushing and passing, even though Miami's upstart offense is in many top-15 categories. Ronnie Brown finally has had his breakout year, averaging 4.7 yards a carry plus Ricky Williams can provide solid backup. Not any huge receivers to mention, but Pennington has had a decent season.

With the injury to Kelly Gregg, the line weakens some and will put more pressure on Trevor Price to do well. But after a game where the defense can hit hard by Peyton Manning, they'll be looking for some payback. Fabian Washington returning will get some much needed help to the secondary.

Intangibles- Miami
The Dolphins are at home, and probably upset about Harbaugh's comments. The Ravens are probably trying to recover after a bad loss to Indy, but Miami lost a heartbreaker to Houston. Both teams have first year head coaches, but I give the advantage to Miami.

This is going to be a very close game, period. Miami right now has the better offense, and the Ravens have the better defense. I'm giving the nod slightly to the Ravens today, just because the return of Fabian Washington frees up the secondary and I believe they'll come back after the loss to Indy and prevail.

--Ravens 20, Dolphins 17

(Photo credits: Gail Burton (Harbaugh & Cameron), Baltimore Ravens (Flacco))

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