On Now
Coming Up
  • Sat., Oct. 01, 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., Oct. 01, 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 WBAL-TV's Keith Mills.
  • Sun., Oct. 02, 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.
  • Sun., Oct. 02, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Live Game Audio Broadcast Listen to the live WBAL broadcast of the Ravens vs. Raiders on BaltimoreRavens.com or in the Ravens mobile app.
  • Sun., Oct. 02, 2016 4:15 PM EDT Live Post Game Presser John Harbaugh and key players will address the media following the game.
  • Mon., Oct. 03, 2016 4:00 PM EDT Live John Harbaugh Presser Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will address the media.
  • Mon., Oct. 03, 2016 5:00 PM EDT A Purple Evening A Purple Evening is back! Join Purple on Monday, October 3rd for on-field drills, player appearances and autographs, giveaways, and much more! Tickets will go on sale soon. Check Purple-Just for Women on Facebook for the latest club and event information.
  • Wed., Oct. 05, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Live Press Conference Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and key players will address the media following practice.
  • Thu., Oct. 06, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Live Coordinators Presser Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, defensive coordinator Dean Pees and special team coordinator Jerry Rosburg will address the media.
  • Sat., Oct. 08, 2016 1:00 PM - 1:30 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.

News

Print
RSS

Eisenberg: Ravens Are Better With Vonta Leach On The Field

Posted Nov 3, 2012

Keep an eye on the Pro Bowl fullback. He’s a pivotal figure in the run-pass debate.


Whether the Ravens win or lose, fullback Vonta Leach is almost always an amiable, stand-up interview subject, so it was surprising to see him hurriedly exiting the locker room shortly after the Ravens' loss in Houston two weeks ago.

With his bag over his shoulder as he strode purposefully for the bus, he gave quick replies to a couple of questions, put his head down and disappeared.

His sour mood was easily explained. Not only had Leach, formerly of the Texans, lost badly in his return to Houston, but according to the participation statistics, he was on the field for just 14 of the Ravens' 61 offensive snaps. He had barely played.

Ray Rice's too-low count of 14 touches that day was the number that has ignited a heated debate about what the Ravens should do to fix their up-and-down offense, but Leach's 14 snaps was even more startling. He is the NFL's top blocking back, a first-team All-Pro in 2011, seemingly still at his peak, and he can't get on the field?

The unfolding philosophical debate has centered on how much the Ravens should hand the ball to Rice in an increasingly pass-happy league, with most opinions falling into a rather obvious category: Yes, he needs more than the nine carries he totaled in Houston. No secret there. Even Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said as much Thursday in his weekly session with reporters, while adding he believes the offense fares best when multiple go-to guys are functioning, not just Rice.

Fans will be closely monitoring Rice's carries, touches and the overall run-pass balance when the Ravens play the Browns Sunday, and that's understandable, especially given Rice's impressive track record against the Browns. But keep an eye on Leach. In many respects, he is the pivotal figure in this conversation.

A fierce blocker who sets a rugged tone, he was signed last year to a reported three-year, $11 million contract for a reason ... and not his pass-catching ability. He loves contact, levels defenders, opens holes. It's a physical game and few play it more physically.

Problems can arise in an organization when the front office and the coaches aren't on the same page, an issue the Ravens seemingly have avoided. But here is a case where the front office has brought in an elite player who fits the organization's hardnosed philosophy, yet he isn't getting his usual playing time, making it onto the field for just 37.6 percent of the offensive snaps this season as the coaches seek a faster tempo.

Cameron's true challenge is to keep Leach more in the loop while also keeping the passing game charged -- not a simple task. Leach's presence naturally leads to a greater emphasis on the running game. And more snaps for him means fewer for the tight ends and receivers who rotate in and out, potentially leading to more predictability and a bottled-up passing game. The Ravens do need to run more, but without forsaking the pass and its explosive potential – a must-have for any contender these days.

They struggled with this issue a year ago, experiencing some rough games until they found the right balance down the stretch, the right blend of Flacco and Rice. The offense was consistent, productive and almost made it to the Super Bowl, with Leach a key contributor.

This year has been different for him, but Leach is a team guy who doesn't complain about how he is used, so there have been no headlines, not that he needs to say a word when his teammates continually sing the chorus of what he brings to the unit as “the best fullback in the league” according to Rice.

While Cameron pointed out Thursday that the play-calling load is more shared this season because Flacco has more authority to audible – an important point – it is Cameron who generally picks the personnel packages. A heavier diet of Leach sounds less palatable than a heavier diet of Rice, but it could make all the difference, providing grounding and ballast for an offense trying to find a rhythm.

My hunch is the more he is out here, the better the Ravens are.


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