Cameron blames struggles on poor third-down offense

Cameron blames struggles on poor third-down offense
December 6, 2012, 3:45 pm
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Cam Cameron knows getting Ray Rice his touches is important

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has a simple answer for why Ray Rice didn’t get the ball in the fourth quarter in last week’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers – and only 12 times total.

The Ravens were atrocious on third downs, converting just 3 of 11, as quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown an average of 39 times in his last three games. 

"For us to be at the lowest we have been in five years in terms of time of possession is strictly on our offense," Cameron said Thursday. "We need to convert on third down better and we need to stay on the field longer. We can’t keep putting our defense back out there in critical situations."

The Ravens converted 42% of third downs last season, when they went 12-4 and to the AFC title game. They’ve dipped to 36%.

Time of possession, a category where they were last in the NFL at the midpoint of the season, is up slightly to 27 minutes per game. That’s still only 30th in the league.

In the Ravens’ three losses this season, Rice averages only 12 carries per game. Last season in their losses, he averaged only 9 per game.

If Rice is getting his touches it is a significant indicator of how the offense is performing as a whole. He had 78 yards rushing, including a 34-yard touchdown run, in the 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh a week ago. Backup Bernard Pierce had 34 yards on 8 carries.

Rice had a chance to criticize his lack of carries in the offense, but he downplayed it as an issue earlier in the week. Rice has 872 yards on 198 carries and 8 rushing TDs.

That’s translates to just one fewer TD, 10 fewer carries and 54 less yards.

In the passing game is where Rice's production takes a more significant decline. He has 49 catches for 409 yards but not touchdowns. Last year, he had 56 catches for 547 yards for 2 TDs through 12 games.  

Cameron wasn’t surprised that Rice took the high road.

"The key for us is making sure when we don’t give the ball to him we are executing with other guys," Cameron said. "You see Bernard getting the ball a little bit more. The one thing that we know on offense is there is only one football, and only one guy is going to get it. … The key is getting more snaps. How do you get more snaps? Convert more on third down."