During Cam Cameron’s tenure as the Ravens offensive coordinator, one of the most hotly-debated issues was how he used Pro Bowl running back
The Ravens offense had a tendency to move away from Rice at times, which often resulted in criticism of Cameron’s play calling.
While Rice’s touches were often a hot topic, he was never outspoken about needing the ball more or criticizing Cameron’s decision making. Rice said he never got involved in advocating for a coordinator change and doesn’t expect a drastic change with the offense or run-pass balance under new Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell.
“It’s a tough business and whatever decisions had to be made, I’m definitely not one of the guys who gets involved in personnel, play calling and all that,” Rice said. “Like I said, I’ve never been one to complain about my touches. I’ve always just understood my role as a playmaker on this team and try to put myself in the best position to make plays.
“I don’t think much is going to change right now. You can’t change much. He’s not going to re-invent the wheel. He knows how to win football games. He’s won a lot over his career.”
Cameron is the only offensive coordinator that Rice has had since coming into the NFL in 2008, and Rice blossomed into one of the game’s premier running backs under him. While his involvement in the offense sometimes became a subject of controversy, Rice had the second most touches (1,339) and most yards from scrimmage (7,302) since becoming a starter in 2009.
“I thought he was a great coach and he’s done a lot for me the last few years,” Rice said. “I don’t know the pressure of being an offensive coordinator, but I do know the pressure to win, and we’ve done a lot of winning over the last few years with him. I’m sure he’ll get a job elsewhere. I definitely wish the guy the best in his career.”
Caldwell has been the Ravens quarterbacks coach since the offseason, and previously worked in Indianapolis as the head coach and quarterbacks coach for future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. The reputation that he brought to Baltimore from his time with the Colts has won over the Ravens players and has them excited about working in his offense.
“I think he’ll be a great fit for us,” Rice said. “He has the respect of the players. Obviously we know what he did with Peyton Manning, and obviously we respect that. At the same time, we got some talent on this team. Coach Caldwell brought in some creative ideas that we’ve already adapted and we’ll just continue to work on the fundamentals right now and get better.”
One of the philosophies that Caldwell has supported is the use of the up-tempo, no-huddle offense, which the Ravens have used at times this year. Caldwell said that he will not institute any kind of system change within the offense, but it’s unknown whether he will look to use more of the no-huddle.
Rice doesn't foresee a big transition.
“We don’t have to re-write the script,” Rice said. “We’re a growing offense and we’re going to continue to get better. We’re going to pound the fundamentals right now.”
Rather than a change in play calling or the offensive system, Rice said the pressure falls on the players to step up their performance and level of execution.
“At the end of the day, the guys who have to go win games is us,” Rice said. “It’s time for us to take over. We could sit out there and say, ‘Cam this, Cam that.’ Cam don’t put on shoulder pads and a helmet. That’s one thing he don’t do. At the end of the day, it’s us against the next team.
“To shoot a square straight, Cam called a pretty decent game last week,” Rice said. “We ran the ball well. We marched up and down the field. We just had to execute a little bit better and that’s what us as players have to do. We have to realize that these guys are going to put us in the positions. We eventually have to go and make the plays.”
With the Ravens making the coaching change late in the season in the midst of a playoff push, Rice expects more pressure to fall on the offensive leaders to keep the team unified and move the offense in the right direction.
“I think it’s just more confirmation that my leadership role has to take its precedence right now,” Rice said. “Myself, Anquan, Joe, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, it’s time. It’s time for us to get with Coach Caldwell, whatever he wants us to do, and let him dial it up."