On Now
Coming Up
  • Sat., Aug. 27, 2016 6:30 PM EDT Live Pregame Show Gerry Sandusky, Stan White and Qadry Ismail preview the Ravens' preseason matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
  • Sat., Aug. 27, 2016 7:00 PM EDT Live Game Audio Broadcast Listen to the live WBAL broadcast of the Lions vs. Ravens on BaltimoreRavens.com or in the Ravens mobile app.
  • Tue., Sep. 06, 2016 8:00 AM EDT Paint The Town Purple Help us paint the town purple! Visit M&T Bank Stadium on Tuesday morning or the Maryland State Fairgrounds in the afternoon to have your car stenciled with the official Ravens logo.
  • Wed., Sep. 07, 2016 8:00 AM EDT #FindTheFlock Scavenger Hunt Locate one of the six LED Ravens letters spread around Baltimore on Wednesday, Sept. 7 and you could win great prizes by using the hashtag #FindTheFlock! Clues will be provided Wednesday morning via the Ravens Snapchat account, so stay tuned and make sure to follow BLTRavens on Snapchat!
  • Fri., Sep. 09, 2016 5:00 PM EDT Countdown To Kickoff Party Presented By Miller Lite Grammy Award®-nominated rock band 3 DOORS DOWN will perform at the Ravens Countdown to Kickoff Party Presented by Miller Lite on Friday, Sept. 9 at Maryland State Fairgrounds. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. Open to all ages.
  • Sat., Sep. 10, 2016 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM EDT Ravens Report Hosted by WUSA-TV's Kristen Berset, Ravens Report, the flagship program of the Baltimore Ravens that showcases life in the NFL. Created by Ravens Productions, this magazine-style show features behind-the-scenes access to Ravens players and coaches as they prepare for each week's opponent.
  • Sat., Sep. 10, 2016 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM EDT Ravens Wired See the plays, hear the sideline conversations and feel the hits on Ravens Wired, the only behind-the-scenes show featuring a Ravens player wired for sound during each week's game. Go behind the Ravens bench for in-game adjustments and inside the locker room for Head Coach John Harbaugh's post-game speech. Produced by Ravens Productions, Ravens Wired is hosted by Comcast Sportsnet's Brent Harris.
  • Sun., Sep. 11, 2016 1:00 AM - 1:30 AM EDT Ravens Unscripted Ravens beat writers Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing join our host to tackle the latest Ravens headlines and hottest topics. Each week's show, brought to you by Ravens Productions, also features a special guest, including prominent sports media, front office staff, players or other Ravens insiders.
  • Sat., Sep. 17, 2016 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM EDT Ravens Report Hosted by WUSA-TV's Kristen Berset, Ravens Report, the flagship program of the Baltimore Ravens that showcases life in the NFL. Created by Ravens Productions, this magazine-style show features behind-the-scenes access to Ravens players and coaches as they prepare for each week's opponent.
  • Sun., Sep. 18, 2016 1:00 AM - 1:30 AM EDT Ravens Unscripted Ravens beat writers Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing join our host to tackle the latest Ravens headlines and hottest topics. Each week's show, brought to you by Ravens Productions, also features a special guest, including prominent sports media, front office staff, players or other Ravens insiders.

News

Print
RSS

Eisenberg: No Doubt Ravens Hitching Wagon To Ray Rice

Posted Feb 15, 2014

While some backs' trail off after five years, there are examples of others continuing to flourish.


The Ravens are hitching their offensive wagon to Ray Rice in 2014. There’s no doubt about it.

“As he goes, we’ll go,” Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak told Garrett Downing in a BaltimoreRavens.com interview earlier this week.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Ravens have consistently hitched their wagon to Rice in recent years and come away with plenty to show for it. Rice has rolled up more than 9,000 rushing and receiving yards in six seasons, scored 43 touchdowns and earned three Pro Bowl selections. He’s a top playmaker, and just turned 27. The Ravens want him in the middle of what they do.

For the first time, though, there’s some uncertainty about that blueprint. Rice wasn’t nearly as effective in 2013 as he was in his first five seasons. He averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, couldn’t break tackles, couldn’t deliver big plays. An unsettling question, unthinkable a year ago, suddenly began to circulate: Has he played his best football?

It’s a fair question because Rice has carried a heavy load, and some backs with similar histories have hit a wall of sorts around this point in their careers, becoming less productive.

Before he was the Ravens’ running backs coach from 2008-2012, Wilbert Montgomery was an excellent back for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1977-1985. He produced 7,503 yards on 1,432 touches in his first six seasons, carrying the Eagles. But he was never as productive after that.

Another back from that era, Larry Brown, also had more than 1,400 touches and earned four Pro Bowl invitations in his first five seasons with the Washington Redskins, but he had little left after that.

With 1,799 touches in his first six seasons, Rice has seen the ball even more than Montgomery or Brown.

Among today’s backs, Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew, 28, hasn’t been as dangerous since the end of his sixth season; he reportedly could be a salary cap casualty this year. Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, 28, dropped off enough in 2013 that he also could be a cap casualty.

The Ravens have no choice but to proceed with Rice, as they would clear little cap space by cutting him. He is due to make almost $9 million in 2014. But financial considerations aren’t even involved in their decision-making. The Ravens still want Rice as their lead back, and have expressed faith in his ability to bounce back and produce.

Their rationale is a combination of factors led to his falloff in 2013. He dealt with a hip flexor injury early in the season, a hamstring injury late. His blockers opened few holes. After bulking up to gain strength, he wasn’t as elusive.

Those are all correctable issues, the Ravens believe.

“I’m very confident that when he says he’s going to come back in the best shape of his life and be better than ever, I’m confident that he’s going to do exactly that,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said in late December.

It should be noted that many backs have NOT followed Wilbert Montgomery’s career arc, sustaining their production beyond a half-dozen years of carrying heavy loads. Barry Sanders had almost 2,000 touches in his first six seasons, and if anything, got better. O.J. Simpson had a pair of great seasons in his late 20s. So did Marshall Faulk.

After getting a ridiculous 2,763 touches in his first six seasons in San Diego, LaDanian Tomlinson produced almost 3,500 yards of offense in the next two seasons.

It’s not a stretch to say the success of the Ravens’ 2014 offense depends on Rice following those latter arcs rather than Montgomery’s or Brown’s. In Kubiak’s system, a strong running game sets up the passing game via play-action fakes. Although Rice is more of a darting runner than the one-cut backs such as Arian Foster who have thrived under Kubiak, there’s little doubt he can also flourish. “We’ve got to get Ray going, doing what he does best,” Kubiak said.

The Ravens’ faith in that happening is rooted in knowing that Rice is a workout warrior with a lot of pride; that it will be an upset if he isn’t driven to right what went wrong in 2013; that the smart move is betting he has another strong year in him.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Related News

Recent Videos

Recent Photos