Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome (left) talks with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (right) during training camp. Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When the Baltimore Ravens fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron 14 weeks into a 9-4 season, reports emerged that team owner Steve Bisciotti stepped in and called for the coordinator to go.
On Friday, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome vehemently denied any urging from him or Bisciotti for coach John Harbaugh to drop Cameron.
Said Newsome: "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no."
(That's nine no's.)
Newsome said Harbaugh brought the topic to him, and they spoke at length about a possible decision during the ride home after a 31-28 overtime loss in Washington Dec. 9, one day before Harbaugh announced Cameron's firing and the promotion of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell.
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"John has to stand before his coaching staff and his players," Newsome said, "and if, at any one point, do they think that he is overly influenced by Steve or I, then he loses his staff and his players. It has to be him."
The Ravens limped into the postseason with two more losses in the remaining three regular-season games, but clicked in the playoffs with consecutive wins over the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, earning a trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII next Sunday.
Cameron told USA TODAY that he understood the move and doesn't hold a grudge, and he has said that, in the end, his firing was a good move for the team because it got the Ravens focused.
"You're always critiquing yourself," Cameron tells USA TODAY Sports. "I've got people in my life who I have critique me all the time. Right now, there's not too many things that I would do differently. Every game, you want a call back here or a call back there. The bottom line is, they felt they needed to make a change."
Caldwell, a former Indianapolis head coach, has since been signed to an extension to remain the team's coordinator, though Newsome said he doesn't expect Caldwell to be around for long. He says another general manager whom he spoke with at the Senior Bowl this week in Alabama said Caldwell would have been interviewed for that team's vacant head-coaching position, if not for the Ravens going deep in the playoffs.
It sure seemed odd last summer for the Ravens to bring in Caldwell, a former head coach with a Super Bowl berth on his resume, to coach a position under Cameron, a coordinator whose only head-coaching experience was a 1-15 season with Miami in 2007. But Newsome says the call was Harbaugh's.
"We used to call it 'The Barbershop,' but now we call it 'The scrimmage': John and I talk about everything," Newsome said. "What I try to do is help John look at the downsides and upside of every decision. And when I have to make a decision, John does the same thing to me.
"It came down to, when he walked into my office and told me he was going to make that decision, he had a peace about himself."
Robert Klemko, USA TODAY Sports