As the Ravens look for ways to improve their offense over the next few months, they at least know they already have a good foundation in place at running back.
“Those two guys really proved themselves,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said last week. “To me, Terrance West and Kenny Dixon made a name for themselves at running back.”
West impressed the Ravens enough in training camp and early in the season that they were willing to part ways with veteran Justin Forsett, and he took over as the full-time starter in Week 4. The hard-nosed runner showed he was up to the challenge of being a starter, and finished the season with 774 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 193 carries.
Dixon took a while to get into a groove because he missed the first four games with a knee injury, and then the Ravens eased him back into the rotation. He came on strong the second half of the season and finished with 88 carries for 382 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also added 30 catches for 162 yards and a score.
“The number of broken tackles that [Dixon] had, how hard and physical he plays [is impressive],” Harbaugh said. “Terrance West [is a] downhill, lower-his-pads runner. Both guys are good out of the backfield.”
Harbaugh liked what he saw in West and Dixon, but the overall production from the ground game wasn’t what the Ravens wanted this season. Baltimore finished with the league’s fifth-worst rushing offense, averaging 91.4 yards per game.
The play calling too often strayed from the run, and Harbaugh stressed that finding the running game will be a point of emphasis for the second season under Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
“Marty believes in running the football, and I believe in running the football,” Harbaugh said. “We have not run the football well enough or enough, really, for the last two years. That has to change. I think it goes hand in hand [with] being good at it and doing it a lot more than we do it.”
While the Ravens plan to lean heavily on West and Dixon next season, Harbaugh also acknowledged that they’ll still be on the lookout for a playmaking running back. They’ve drafted a running back in the fourth round in three-straight years, and they are in the market for a game breaker.
Harbaugh stressed multiple times during his press conference last week that the Ravens need more big plays to be an effective offense, and the Ravens could use a draft pick on another back if they like what they see when they are on the clock.
“We need another back. What type of back that is? I think we’re talking about it. We have a pretty good idea of the type of back we want to add,” Harbaugh said. “Those two guys and another one is what we need.”