Clearly, the Ravens need to run the ball with Ray Rice more, but Sunday’s game against the Redskins may be an exception.
Many times this season, Rice has disappeared in the Ravens pass-happy offense. Even though Rice isn’t to blame for his number not being called in the huddle, whether the Ravens win or lose often comes down to his level of involvement in the game.
Last Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was just the latest in a handful of games over the past two seasons where the underutilization of Rice could directly be linked to the Ravens heading to the loss column. For further examples see: Houston (2012), Jacksonville (2011), Seattle (2011), and San Diego (2011)
Typically, the Ravens are quick to rebound, giving Rice anywhere from 18-27 rushes the following game. An increased workload is always good for Rice, but matching up against the Redskins, fans shouldn’t be disappointed if the Ravens chose to pass more often than rush.
Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense should smell blood in the water at FedEx Field and have a great day through the air.
The Redskins have issues with pressuring the quarterback – even more so than the Ravens – and their passing defense is ranked 31st in the league.
They could be even worse now. Starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall was on crutches earlier this week with an ankle injury and reserve cornerback Cedrick Griffin was suspended for violating the NFl’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
While Griffin is definitely out, Hall has started to practice and was limited on Thursday.
If Flacco ever needed a confidence booster, now is the time, facing a team giving up an average of 299 yards per game through the air. Simply put, this is a quarterback’s dream.
Cam Cameron talks about getting Ray Rice the ball
Even though the Redskins have the fourth best rush defense in the league, Rice still must be part of the game plan. He is dynamic enough that he’ll still find success against the Redskins, even if it means he becomes a receiver out of the backfield.
There is a positive spin that can be placed on Rice having reduced touches- he hasn’t been hit much. Rice’s underutilization should mean that he’s fresh, especially during a time when most running backs are playing through injuries. I asked him about it on Wednesday.
“This is one of the best [seasons] I’ve ever felt going into December football, just being honest,” Rice said. “I think that has something to do with, obviously, being smart with my touches, but also having to do with how I take care of my body.”
“The weight room has been my temple,” exclaimed Mr. Hey-Diddle-Diddle.
It’s obvious that Rice is feeling healthy and can withstand a heavier-than-normal workload if called upon. There is no reason for him to have under 20 touches, no matter who he’s playing – but against the Redskins, the Ravens shouldn’t be faulted if they plan to attack through the air.