It’s something everybody wants, all the way from Ravens fans to Ravens coaches.
But it’s not a statistic that ensures victory, nor should it be judged on a game-by-game basis, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said Tuesday. Balance should be looked at when the season is over.
“We’re always wanting to be as balanced as we can be, but it’s not going to be the same every week,” Cameron said Tuesday. “Balance isn’t as big of a priority for us as it is for everybody else, I can just tell you that.”
Cameron formulates the game plan each week based on what he feels will work best against the opposing defenses’ weaknesses and tendencies. It’s not about trying to get a 50/50 split.
“It’s about attacking the defense we’re playing,” he said. “We may throw it every down some games. If we think that’s what we need to do to win the game, that’s what we’re going to do.
“We want to be balanced over the course of time, but every given week, in all likelihood, we’re not going to be balanced.”
Here’s the Ravens’ track record of balance over the past four years:
2008 – 433 passes, 592 rushes (most rushes in the NFL)
2009 – 510 passes, 468 rushes
2010 – 491 passes, 487 rushes
2011 – 544 passes, 459 rushes
Of the four seasons, the Ravens offense posted its lowest offensive ranking (22nd in average yards per game) in 2010 when they were the most balanced. The unit’s two best statistical years were in 2009 (13th) and 2011 (15th) when it passed the most.
Cameron also pointed to his track record in regards to giving the ball to running back
Rice has touched the ball more than any non-quarterback in the NFL over the past two seasons.
Last year, he led the league in touches with 367 (291 rushes, 76 receptions). In 2010, he was second to Houston’s Arian Foster with 370 touches. He ran a career-high 307 times. In 2009, Rice had 332 touches, finishing fifth in the league. He wasn’t a full-time starter in 2008.
“If we as a staff gave Ray Rice the ball as much as everybody wants us to, he would wind up like the rest of the backs in this league,” Cameron said, making a reference to tailbacks who break down early in their careers.
“We’re not going to let that happen.”
While Baltimore isn’t going to be over-protective of Rice, Cameron made it clear that he’s also mindful of the load he puts on his franchise running back, who signed a five-year contract extension this offseason.
“I think there’s a sweet spot on how much you can use a three-down back in this business over a 20-game-plus season,” Cameron said. “We think we’ve found that sweet spot for him.”
Against New England, Rice ran the ball 20 times for 101 yards. He caught five passes for 49 yards. In a loss to Philadelphia the week prior, Rice ran 16 times for 99 yards and caught six passes for 53. He had his fewest touches (13) in Baltimore’s Week 1 offensive explosion and blowout win.
Last year, Rice ran all over the Browns. He rushed 29 times for 204 yards and a touchdown in Week 13, then followed that up with 23 carries for 87 yards and three catches for 48 yards (including a 42-yard touchdown) three weeks later.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a heavy serving of Rice this week, however.“This is a different [Browns] team, different year,” Cameron said. “I think everybody knows, every week in this league takes on, almost, a life of its own.”