Dear Cam: Use the Shotgun…in One Way or Another
Everyone that has watched the Ravens play this year has noticed one very obvious fact about the offense: Joe Flacco performs much better when he sets up in the shotgun, as opposed to under center. Joe’s footwork leaves something to be desired at this point in his development, and his slow dropbacks seem to hinder his ability to get the ball out on time. In the no-huddle offense though, and especially in shotgun, Joe just looks more comfortable, and as a result the offense is much more effective.
We can all agree that Joe is best in shotgun, yes?
Of course, our good buddy Cam Cameron seems to be either oddly oblivious to (unlikely) or blatantly ignoring (that’s the one) this fact. I get it, we’re trying to “develop” Joe into a more complete QB, yadda, yadda, yadda. This is the postseason now though. Time to play as much as possible to your players’ strengths. Shotgun is what Joe ran in college, and it’s what he’s had the most success with in the NFL so far.
Again, I look back to the terrible offensive day the Ravens had Sunday against the Bengals. In the first half, prior to taking possession with 2:27 remaining in the second quarter for what would be their only “hurry-up” attempt of the day, the Ravens put Flacco in shotgun for five plays.
However, ALL of these plays were on 3rd downs, and 4/5 were on extremely obvious 3rd-and-long passing downs:
- 3rd and goal from CIN 7: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete short left to 27-R.Rice. Penalty on BLT-27-R.Rice, Offensive Pass Interference, declined.
- 3rd and 15 from BAL 29: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short middle to 81-A.Boldin to BLT 37 for 8 yards (57-D.Jones).
- 3rd and 17 from BAL 23: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco sacked at BLT 20 for -3 yards (31-R.Williams).
- 3rd and 4 from BAL 39: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete deep right to 27-R.Rice. PENALTY on CIN-59-B.Johnson, Defensive Pass Interference, 24 yards, enforced at BLT 39 – No Play.
- 3rd and 3 from CIN 30: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short left to 81-A.Boldin to CIN 29 for 1 yard (34-K.Ratliff) [93-M.Johnson].
In the 2nd half, it was more of the same – 5 shotgun formations, 5 3rd-and-long situations:
- 3rd and 5 from BAL 45: (Shotgun) PENALTY on BLT-84-T.Houshmandzadeh, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 45 – No Play.
- 3rd and 10 from BAL 40: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco sacked at BLT 34 for -6 yards (93-M.Johnson).
- 3rd and 6 from CIN 48: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco sacked at BLT 44 for -8 yards (96-C.Dunlap).
- 3rd and 5 from BAL 37: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete short left to 84-T.Houshmandzadeh [97-G.Atkins].
- 3rd and 14 from BAL 22: (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco scrambles up the middle to BLT 25 for 3 yards (97-G.Atkins).
So to sum up, not including the “hurry up” offense at the end of the first half, the Ravens ran 10 plays from shotgun against Cincinnati, and 9/10 of them were on 3rd-down and 4 or more. The 10th was on 3rd-and-3.
Just like in today’s earlier post, I have to pause here to admire the creative genius of Cam Cameron.
Also, like in the earlier post, I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that it was again just Cam not wanting to tip his hand to Kansas City.
Maybe not though. I went back and started to look at the previous week’s game against Cleveland – 5 shotgun formations in the first half, all on 3rd-and-long. On the first drive of the 3rd quarter, Joe finally lined up in shotgun on 2nd-and-7. After that?
- 3rd and 1
- 3rd and 6
- 3rd and 4
Nine shotgun formations, coming on 7 3rd-and-longs, one 2nd-and-7, and one 3rd-and-1.
Against New Orleans: 12 shotgun formations, 10 3rd-and-longs, one 2nd-and-8, one 2nd-and-11.
Incredibly – unless I missed something in my research – the last time the Ravens lined up in shotgun on 1st down in a non-hurry-up situation was…Week 12 against Tampa.
Admittedly, I had started this post thinking that I was going to be begging Cam to “go back” to mixing up the offense with more early-down shotgun formations. After further review though, it’s obvious that hasn’t been part of the game plan in quite some time, so it seems very unlikely that it would suddenly reappear in Kansas City on Sunday.
Three of Flacco’s last four touchdown passes (both against New Orleans, 1/2 in Cleveland) came on 3rd-and-long shotgun formations. I’d still like to see some of those plays called on earlier downs, but at this point I’m not holding my breath. With the expected decibel level at Arrowhead, any no-huddle hurry-up – unless absolutely necessary – is unlikely.
Looks like we’ll have to find another use for Cam’s shotgun…