Gary Kubiak knows how to build a running game.
During his 17 seasons as a play caller in the NFL, Kubiak’s offenses have consistently featured some of the best running games in the NFL. His offense is predicated on establishing the run, and a focus during the next few months will be rebuilding the Ravens’ rushing attack after an uncharacteristically poor 2013 season.
“I have tremendous expectations for them,” Kubiak said Monday when asked about the ground game.
“Everything is going to start when we walk in our offensive meeting rooms with being physical, regardless of which position you play. And if we do that, we’re going to throw the ball well off our play-action and those types of things.”
The Ravens finished the 2013 campaign ranked last in the NFL by averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Injuries to running backs
Head Coach John Harbaugh called those struggles the team’s “biggest disappointment,” and he has stressed since the end of the season that the Ravens want to get back to being a team that can wear down defenses with an effective rushing attack.
“We philosophically believe – in being a rough, tough, physical offense that can run the football,” Harbaugh said Dec. 31.
Bringing Kubiak to Baltimore could provide a perfect spark for the running game. He is known for his stretch-zone blocking schemes with the Houston Texans and from his days as a coordinator with the Denver Broncos.
Kubiak’s method of running the ball is proven, and his offenses have produced 1,000-yard rushers in 14 of his 19 seasons as a head coach or coordinator. During that time, the Broncos and Texans had success by plugging a variety of backs into the system.
Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns, Steve Slaton and Arian Foster have all topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark under Kubiak. Of that group, Portis was the highest draft as the No. 51 overall selection. None of the other backs were selected before the third round.
Davis, a sixth-round pick, went on to become an NFL MVP and three-time All-Pro selection. Foster, an undrafted free agent, is a three-time All-Pro selection and averaged 1,900 yards from scrimmage from 2010-2012.
Now Kubiak will get to work with a three-time Pro Bowler in Rice, and a talented young back in Pierce. He was complimentary of them during his introductory press conference and will get to work establishing his system with them in the next few months.
“If they’ll get downhill, we’ll do fine,” Kubiak said. “[They’ve had] some great running backs here that have been very successful. We told John we think they fit what we do very well. It’s our job now to go teach our system and get them comfortable with it.”