Ravens in turmoil as they prepare for Broncos

Cam Cameron fired by Baltimore Ravens as offensive coordinator
www.baltimoresun.com

Tired with the offense’s inconsistency and the lack of significant progression from quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens today let go much-maligned offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, according to team sources.

Clearly not an ideal way to head into the stretch run of a season, and while preparing for a game the magnitude of Sunday's looming visit from the Broncos.

The Sun's writers offer their reactions; Kevin Cowherd calls it a panic move, while Peter Schmuck says it was time for a change.

Jason Cole says the inability of Cameron and QB Joe Flacco to coexist necessitated the switch, while Jamison Hensley says the firing of Cameron - who had been on a one-year deal - is sure to please Baltimore's offensive players.

Updated 2:01pm ET

Bring on the Ravens Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's upcoming trip to Baltimore has loomed as a big game since the moment the 2012 schedule was released, but the showdown has become more crucial by the day.

Although the matchup will likely go a long way to determining who the AFC's number-two seed is, things have suddenly gotten desperate for the Ravens (9-4), who remain stuck on nine wins after yesterday's 31-28 loss to Washington (7-6). It was Baltimore's second consecutive loss, and things won't get any easier for them; after the Broncos, they'll host the Giants and then head to Cincinnati to close out the regular season.

Adding to the pain of having lost two straight nailbiters, the already banged-up Ravens lost two more of their best players to injury yesterday - an ankle sprain left Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda on crutches after the game, and Jeff Legwold says it could be a season-ending injury for the Pro Bowler. LB Jameel McClain suffered a neck injury that had him in serious pain, although X-rays were negative.

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Open Thread: Sunday Week 14

Here are the day's inactive lists. Enjoy the games - Washington knocked off Baltimore in overtime, handing the Ravens their fourth loss of the season, and putting them a full game behind Denver in the AFC playoff race. Thank you, Shanny!

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How good are the 2012 Broncos in short yardage?

Readers of this site are well aware that we collectively favor aggression on fourth down.

One or two yards to gain, anywhere from near midfield to the opposing goal line? Go for it.

Third-and-short from within that same area? Call your play with the intent to go for it on fourth if you fail, barring a loss of yardage on third.

Peyton Manning scores touchdowns--that's all he does. Putting the ball in the hands of your punter, or at the foot of your placekicker, provides said touchdown-scorer with fewer opportunities with which to score touchdowns.

It really is that simple.

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Broncos seeking assists from Shanny, Kubes Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Sadly, tragedy has struck the NFL for the second weekend in a row.

25-year-old Dallas practice squad LB Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident early Saturday morning, and his teammate Josh Brent, the Cowboys' starting nose tackle, has been charged with intoxicated manslaughter.

According to reports, Brent was speeding on a service road and hit a curb, causing the car to flip and skid on its roof approximatedly 900 feet. Police arrived to find the car afire, with Brent attempting to pull his roommate, college (Illinois) and pro teammate from the wreckage.

The players had apparently been out with a group of about a dozen teammates on Friday night; Brent had pleaded guilty to DWI while a sophomore at Illinois, and was suspended from the football team as a result. Obviously, he didn't learn his lesson, and we're again forced by football to ponder an important societal issue, even if so many like to think sports and life are so easy separated.

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Outside Denver, AFCW is Nepotism Central Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Many Broncos fans are disappointed that Chargers owner Dean Spanos has reportedly decided to can A.J. Smith and Norv Turner once this season's done with.

This is an understandable sentiment, what with the team's recent descent to and below mediocrity, and Smith's construction of one of the worst offensive lines you'll see.

Who wouldn't want Smith and his legendary hubris to continue running things? The presence in the division of Peyton Manning, whose family Smith openly despises (also understandably, what with Archie and Eli's Elway-like power move of 2004), only figured to cloud A.J.'s judgment even more.

But here's the thing - do you know who Spanos has been grooming to run his team's football operations for several years?

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It really is all about Peyton Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Ten wins doesn't sound like that much. Broncos fans are rather accustomed to their team reaching that plateau, as they've now done so 18 times since 1977, the year of Denver's first SB team.

But since the last double-digit campaign of 2005, there had been five seasons of mediocrity, and one of pure ineptitude.

This time, it's only taken 13 games to reach that mark.

After a 2-3 start.

As expected, the Broncos (10-3) dispatched the host Raiders (3-10) with relative ease last night in a 26-13 road win (Game Book, ANS box score) that places them one half-game ahead of New England and Baltimore, and alone as the AFC's #2 seed, pending those team's Week 14 games.

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Gut Reaction: Week 14 - Broncos @ Raiders

Raise your hand if you thought the Broncos were in danger with a halftime lead of only six points.

That's exactly two hands, including John Madden's.

I guess pirates just aren't that frightening anymore--if they ever were in Oakland.

Either that, or this Broncos team is that good.  Even when they play sloppy and sluggish in the red zone, they adjust.  A one-score game quickly turnes into a three-score game. 

By the fourth quarter, the Broncos' opponents might as well put on their pirate shirts.

As least then, the attire would keep it interesting.

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Open Thread: Broncos @ Raiders, plus Norv & A.J. on their way out

Denver's inactives are RG Chris Kuper, LB Wesley Woodyard, CB Tracy Porter, TE Julius Thomas, FB Jacob Hester, DT Sealver Siliga, and QB Caleb Hanie. Manny Ramirez and D.J. Williams figure to start in place of Kuper and Woodyard, respectively, with C.J. Davis as Ramirez's backup.

Brandon Stokley, who had been a game-time decision, will dress - as will Andre Caldwell and Matthew Willis - so Denver will have five wideouts suited up, even while the punditry suggested the Broncos would focus on a run-heavy approach tonight. Tracy Porter, who did not appear on the week's injury report, is a healthy scratch.

Not dressing for Oakland are DE Jack Crawford, DT Richard Seymour, RB Jeremy Stewart, WR Derek Hagan, T Willie Smith, OL Lucas Nix, and RB/FB Jamize Olawale.

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STDL: Broncos checking off goals by the week

Division title? Check.

Home playoff game? Got that.

First-round bye? That's what remains for the Broncos as far as regular-season ambitions go. Home field throughout would be a nice bonus, but it's an outside possibility at this point, and of course, going undefeated within the AFCW would also be nice.

Denver can get another step closer to attaining those goals tonight at Oakland, with what would be their eighth consecutive win, on a short turnaround for both teams.

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