After the Ravens won the Super Bowl XXXV there was a ton of debate surrounding the team’s decision to replace quarterback Trent Dilfer with Elvis Grbac. Many will point to that decision and conclude that it cost the Ravens a chance to repeat as World Champions.
To this day, that debate rages on with no conclusive argument – no clear consensus.
What most can agree on is that the Ravens’ season was nearly doomed from the start the moment Kelly Gregg hit Jamal Lewis’ knee during training camp at McDaniel College during the summer of 2001, ending the sophomore back’s season.
You may recall that following Lewis’ successful rookie campaign, the Ravens parted ways with the very capable Priest Holmes who wanted a chance to start. Clearly that wasn’t going to happen in Baltimore so Holmes, packed his bags and said, “I’m going to Kansas City.”
With no Priest to turn to, the Ravens prayed that they might somehow get production from a scrap heap collection of backs, the “best” of which were a battered Terry Allen and an overweight Jason Brookins. After this unimpressive one-two punch averaged just 3.8 yards per carry Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome vowed to never leave his running game that vulnerable to injury.
Fast forward to 2012…
Today the Ravens feature one of the most dynamic players in the league in the form of RB Ray Rice. But behind Rice there are four backs (Bernard Pierce, Damien Berry, Bobby Rainey and Anthony Allen) who collectively have 3 carries for 8 yards in the NFL.
Pierce is said to be that one-cut type of back in the mold of Arian Foster but he’s beginning to develop an unwanted distinction that reads “Injury Prone”. Berry at times shows a burst but there’s probably a reason why a tailback from the University of Miami goes undrafted. Bobby Rainey has been one of the talks of training camp and looks a bit like a poor man’s Ray Rice. But is a cheap Rice knockoff really a desirable change-of-pace back? Allen just looks lost as a runner, blocker and pass catcher.
Are the Ravens one knee twist away from repeating 2001?
No one wants to say it. No one wants to think it. But the possibility does exist that the Ravens could find themselves starting a tailback whose resume at best contains only 8 yards of rushing. That’s 3 inches beyond an NBA 3-point shot.
For a team that was one dropped pass removed from Super Bowl XLVI and has its collective sights set on New Orleans in February 2013, they better start thinking about an insurance policy that pays a little more than 8 yards.