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Ravens Will be Fine if Served Without Rice

Lombardi's Way Ravens Will be Fine if Served Without Rice

Posted in Lombardi's Way
8+ Comments Tony Lombardi says A legend you are JWS. I'll look for your bust next time I go to Canton, OH. Is it near Uncle Vince's?
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Since Ray Rice’s arrest back in February following a fight with then fiancée Janay Palmer that took place at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, the Baltimore Ravens star running back has fallen off the grid.

We’ve heard about his reconciling with Palmer who he has since married and the counseling program in which the couple has participated.

Earlier this week we learned that Rice has been accepted into a pretrial intervention program which allows Rice to avoid a trial, potential jail time and the negative publicity that comes with such a high profile case.

The couple and the case are healing yet a complete recovery will still take some time.

Rice and his teammates will have to deal with a likely suspension and what will probably be a season-long distraction when visiting hostile opponents on their turf.

Circumstances like this can galvanize a team. We’ve seen this before during the 2000 season when confronted by fan vitriol stemming from the Ray Lewis murder trial. We could see it again with Rice.

The team is comfortable with the progress the couple has made and they appear confident that the newlyweds are on the road to recovery. What they aren’t as comfortable with is how the team will respond on the field should they miss Rice to start the season, as expected.

The Ravens will more than likely operate the opening two games against the Bengals and Steelers, two important division games, with a running-back-by-committee approach, which could actually work in their favor.

Divisional foes are dialed in to each other’s tendencies and the way in which they use their personnel. There are generally few surprises and games are won and lost on execution or the lack thereof.

But the Ravens will look a bit different to the Bengals and Steelers. No longer will they show the same humdrum personnel groupings and the same predictable pistol formations, which by the way are more suited for running quarterbacks.

There’s a new offensive coordinator in town.

Adding to the unfamiliarity will be running backs Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Pierce has often been compared to Arian Foster, who flourished with Kubiak in Houston. Forsett also has a fine track record with Kubes as a change-of-pace back, possessing a burst and strong change of direction skills. Taliaferro, the versatile rookie from Coastal Carolina has a nose for the end zone and was an accomplished blocker and pass catcher at the collegiate level.

And then there’s Kyle Juszczyk, a heady player with great hands who can be a receiving threat out of the backfield.

Who knows how Kubiak will utilize his backfield weapons if Roger Goodell forces Rice to the sidelines?

Who knows how he’ll distribute the workload amongst the backfield options?

Yet the uncertainty will weigh on new Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and Steelers DC Dick LeBeau. It will affect the players. The uncertainty will slow them down and in the process leave opportunities on the field for the Ravens.

A full season without Ray Rice given the uncertainties in the Ravens backfield would be concerning.

But a couple of games against divisional foes that depend on familiarity and tendencies isn’t such a bad thing.

It might even help.

After which Rice can get back on the grid and the gridiron.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. Follow Tony's new Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

Tony always drinks much too much kool aid provided by Decosta and Byrnes! Really with Pierce and his rehab injurede shoulder and his often injury history who is not even close to Foster's production, ocess,a 3rd down back and a rookie will never compare with Rice before his injury? No doubt Flacco and this passing offense will be counted on to win the first two games if Tony does not predict wins!

John P
John P

Tony, I think you may have swallowed the Kool-Aid factory this time! Seriously - the Ravens are better with Rice ON the field. Even if your argument has merit (and at some level, it does) the Ravens could always opt to use him less or in different packages anyway.


Furstenberg and Juszczyk were/are rookies. They really didn't get a chance to play their fill. We had an offensive coach who was stale as a bag of chips. Much like Cam Cameron he didn't like changes. With that said, those players didn't get a chance to play. Thousands of people saw untapped potential. The NFL is a business of hopes and dreams played.. The Ravens will be fine without RR.


Not only will the Ravens be fine, they can begin the process of moving forward from the contract they gave Rice, believing him to be the exception to the rule about the shelf life of NFL running backs. With his crazy cap hit ($24M + over 2014, 15, 16), 2015 is the time for the Ravens to move on even if he was a model citizen who didnt knock out his fiancee. On the field, he will add little that the other RBs on the roster can't in a stretch zone scheme while adding PR nightmares and distractions. We cant cut him this year because of the cap hit (5.5 M) but cutting him after the season will only cost 1.75 for 2015 and actually save $ 3M cap in 2016.


Juszczyk is much like Furstenburg, a WHOLE lot of msg board love, but no production. With the pick of Gilmore, he's not going to be a FB that will flex to TE like so many forum peeps always rave about. It doesn't matter who is in the backfield as much as what production we get out of our Oline. If our oline improves our RB will be good. If they suck again like last year ( The worst offensive line I have ever seen ) Barry Sanders wouldn't be able to gut out 1,000 yards.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

A legend you are JWS. I'll look for your bust next time I go to Canton, OH. Is it near Uncle Vince's?

D Rock
D Rock

Juszczyk was a 4th rounder while Furstenburg was an UDFA, big difference. I really believe that the reason Juice didn't have production was because he wasn't on the ;) field...... Leach was our FB, Juice took a year to learn. In my opinion the idea that Juice would flex out to TE or even wider was mostly just silly fan talk. He is a blocker and a pass catcher out of the backfield only. He will be our only FB. I never once believed he would play close to the position Pitta played. Look for Juice to really contribute this year. And yes our oline is the key.


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