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  1. #1

    We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year



    Let me preface this post by saying that any sane Ravens fan should be upset that Rice was not more involved in the gameplan last Sunday; however, as Connor Barwin himself said in his post-game presser, they spyed Rice almost every down and prioritized taking him away above all else. And that leads me to the truth that we all need to be reminded of right now: the Ravens are not and cannot be a run-first team.

    In reaction to the poor offensive showing vs. Houston, the one mantra I seem to hear from talk radio and the media seems to be "the Ravens need to go back to being a running team, at least on the road." I firmly believe that isn't happening; not with this team, not with this defense, not with this OC.

    People remember last year that we had success, especially in the latter half of the year, with a run-first attack. We ran the ball down Cleveland's throat twice, put Cincinnati away with a couple of big rushes in the season finale, and had success with run-first gameplans vs. the 49ers. However, in those games, we held the opponent to an average of 12 points a game. The defense is allowing nearly double that now. Sure, we beat KC 9-6, but I don't think you'll see a box score like that again for the rest of the season. If we go back to those old gameplans, sure, we'll hold the ball a long time, move the ball a bit, maybe kick some field goals or even a lucky TD. But the other team will simply respond with a quick score, and we'll lose more and more ground.

    The defense is the first thing that will stop this team from winning with a run-first mentality. The second thing though is perhaps even more threatening: the predictability of our offense. When we took our run-first game plan into Houston and New England in the playoffs, both of those teams COMPLETELY shut down Ray Rice--and New England didn't even have a good defense last year. They knew what was coming, schemed around it to take it away, and we were left flabbergasted--at least, till Flacco caught fire in the 2nd half vs. the Pats.

    If we start running the ball with Ray Rice every 1st and 2nd down like we used to, consistently out of the same I-formation sets, teams will simply take Ray Rice away and ask Flacco to beat them. And then we're back to the problem we started with: we have an inefficient, inconsistent passing offense. You don't solve a problem by ignoring it. The Ravens NEED to fix the passing offense, particularly on the road, in order to be a good football team this year. Running the ball more will not help, at least not long-term without fixing this offense's deeper problems of predictability, rigidity, and lack of modernity.




  2. #2
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    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    While you bring up some good points, it's still not holding water to not be a run first team on the road. We can't pass the ball effectively on the road and haven't been able to for the past 2 years apart from two games against the Steelers and the Patriots in the AFCCG.

    If we are going to get beaten like we did on Sunday passing the ball that may times, that Redskin fury guys prediction will be right, and we'll finish off the year 8-8. I don't even think we should be a run first team, just a balanced team, we have maybe the best RB in the game, so it's stupid to just say we can't revolve the game around Rice because teams will spy him. That's like saying, we should not blitz that much with Suggs back because teams are going to double team him.

    The defense isn't anywhere near what is was last year, so we probably wont be able to get away with running it as much as we did last year down the stretch, but if we can stay on the field longer as an offense and not have as many three and outs, maybe the defense will have a better chance, because right now our defense is almost always on the field. Frankly, I don't really understand how you can defend us being a pass first team on the road with what happened down in Houston, I'd really rather not have that happen again, just because it's been a long time obsession in a lot of fans heads that we should finally become the Green Bay Packers on offense, because we are simply not built for that. I am not willing to go 8-8 just so we can be identitfied as a pass happy team. I don't mind it at home, because clearly it does work with no crowd noise. But with the way our Oline is built, we may aswell pound the ball with our all pro back behind our all pro fullback, because that's what gives us the best chance to win.




  3. #3

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    You think teams didn't "spy" Jamal Lewis when he was the only offensive weapon the team had? And Rice is a lot more versatile than Jamal was. Shiftier and harder to spot behind the linemen too. They could see Jamal coming from a mile away.




  4. #4

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    Quote Originally Posted by leachisabeast View Post
    While you bring up some good points, it's still not holding water to not be a run first team on the road. We can't pass the ball effectively on the road and haven't been able to for the past 2 years apart from two games against the Steelers and the Patriots in the AFCCG.

    If we are going to get beaten like we did on Sunday passing the ball that may times, that Redskin fury guys prediction will be right, and we'll finish off the year 8-8. I don't even think we should be a run first team, just a balanced team, we have maybe the best RB in the game, so it's stupid to just say we can't revolve the game around Rice because teams will spy him. That's like saying, we should not blitz that much with Suggs back because teams are going to double team him.

    The defense isn't anywhere near what is was last year, so we probably wont be able to get away with running it as much as we did last year down the stretch, but if we can stay on the field longer as an offense and not have as many three and outs, maybe the defense will have a better chance, because right now our defense is almost always on the field. Frankly, I don't really understand how you can defend us being a pass first team on the road with what happened down in Houston, I'd really rather not have that happen again, just because it's been a long time obsession in a lot of fans heads that we should finally become the Green Bay Packers on offense, because we are simply not built for that. I am not willing to go 8-8 just so we can be identitfied as a pass happy team. I don't mind it at home, because clearly it does work with no crowd noise. But with the way our Oline is built, we may aswell pound the ball with our all pro back behind our all pro fullback, because that's what gives us the best chance to win.
    If the choice were between "pass the ball and lose" or "run the ball and win" as you say it is, then you're right, that choice would be easy. But it's never that easy and the choice you proposed is not reality.

    Once again, no team in the league is winning because they're REALLY GOOD at running the ball and nothing else. The best rushing teams in the league last year were the Panthers, Vikings, Eagles, Saints, and Bills, in that order--only the Saints even MADE the playoffs. Of the 4 championship teams in the league last year, the Ravens were the best rushing team at #14 overall (which was league average.)

    Do we really believe that with this OL we can run the ball BETTER this year than last year? After all, we were dead average last year anyway! Even more important than that, we don't have the defense that we had last year to back the run game up.

    I think your argument is relying on a lot of assumptions that aren't even close to being true: 1) that we're more effective running the ball than passing the ball generally, 2) that we'd convert more 3rd downs if we ran more, 3) that our defense is doing badly in part because they're on the field more often. I don't know if any of those are definitely true. The defense is definitely hurting from being on the field so much, but they've been bad even when they've had the chance to rest--case in point, Houston moved the ball at will and held it almost the ENTIRE 3RD QUARTER because the defense couldn't stop a nosebleed even coming out of halftime.

    I'm not suggesting that we DON'T run the ball, the core of my argument is simply this: we are not going to fix our offensive problems simply by running the ball more. We NEED to fix the passing offense and develop it into a game-winning unit. That will improve the run game; the two should complement one another. But in today's NFL, you simply cannot win with only a run game and nothing else--you NEED an elite, top-5 defensive unit, and we don't have that this year.




  5. #5

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    Jamal could run over them and physically intimidate them to the point of not wanting to tackle him. Ray Rice cannot do that.

    I think there is a hang up here, but I am glad that this thread was made. It is probably the best thread I've seen on the issue all week.

    The hang is in a 'Run first' offense, compared to an offense that 'might need to run the ball a little more'.

    My stance is not that the offense should be a run first offense, but that they may need to mix it in a little more when the passing offense struggles to gain a rhythm.

    I happen to agree with the OP, that the 'run first' approach will be ineffective. Teams key in on Rice and we've seen that in the playoffs the past three games. You don't want to put yourself in yet another situation where you abandon the issues of the passing offense, while trying to take that regular season approach of success, into territory where there's plenty of evidence the results will not be the same, all the while suddenly asking your passing offense to get off of the cooler and save you again.

    Ray Rice is a great back and I don't want to go too far into this, derailing the thread, but he can be homerun or miss sometimes. Plus, Rice is not going to pound defenses the way that Jamal did, wearing them down by the fourth quarter. Defenses barely wanted to tackle Jamal in the third quarter. By the fourth quarter, they didn't want a piece of him at all.

    The solution, in my opinion, is to get Bernard Pierce more involved.

    However, at the end of the day, this passing offense needs to be fixed or the Ravens will not win the Super Bowl. The potential is there, but the consistency is lacking.
    "When questioned, the Elders explained that they were in search of magical powers. However, they're actually searching for the whereabouts of a certain ring. This ring is a legendary treasure that long ago was known to exist"




  6. #6
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    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    I'm tired of debating this endless pass vs run offense, especially with you two who are the biggest anti Rice and RB guys on this forum (no offense intended). So I'll just leave it at that, but this team is not going to win on the road by being a pass first team, that's just how it is, and so far with the way things have gone you cannot argue with that. What did we do in KC to win the game in the end after the pass offense was clearly failing all day? We pounded the ball with Rice to finish the game off.




  7. #7

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevlar View Post
    You think teams didn't "spy" Jamal Lewis when he was the only offensive weapon the team had? And Rice is a lot more versatile than Jamal was. Shiftier and harder to spot behind the linemen too. They could see Jamal coming from a mile away.
    They used to stack the box against Jamaal. There was no spying there. Furthermore Ray Rice is not the only weapon we have on offense so teams can't stack the box against him when the Ravens are in I formation or 2 back sets.




  8. #8

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    What we are both trying to explain to you, Leachisabeast, is that we understand the success that could bring in the regular season. However, the last three playoff games have made it clear that the success will not translate. The last three playoff games have shown that the Ravens will be forced to throw the ball and have struggled in doing so.
    "When questioned, the Elders explained that they were in search of magical powers. However, they're actually searching for the whereabouts of a certain ring. This ring is a legendary treasure that long ago was known to exist"




  9. #9

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    While I pretty much agree with everything the OP said, I also think the passing game, on the road especially, appears not to have what it takes to score consistently. And worse, it sometimes can't get even a few first downs, which puts our defense back on the field before they can get a drink.

    What Barwin said is exactly what I have been saying for a while, including about last year's AFCCG where we passed the ball pretty well. People when looking at that game kept saying things like Rice isn't worth X money, did you see him disappear in the AFCCG, etc, etc. But people constantly ignore the fact that any well-coached and remotely-competent team defense can make a RB "disappear" IF they are willing to sell out massively to stop the RB. But when they do this, it means the passing game should have it as easy as it ever will (against that team). So, to summarize, if Rice finishes the game with pedestrian stats but forced the other team to play 8 and 9 in and around the box all night and gave our receivers single coverage most of the time, then he did contribute mightily to our effort. That the passing game cannot carry the vast majority of the load, facing the easiest situation they will ever face, is a problem with our passing game (Cam more than anyone, imo, but I understand a lot of people disagree).

    Of course, Barwin and Houston and even New England would have been forced to change their scheme (away from one that spends so much effort stopping Rice) if our passing game was able to consistently take advantage of run-defenses (on 1st and 2nd down especially).

    In terms of the Houston game though, I also agree with the OP that we didn't use Rice enough, even stipulating that he likely was the focus of the defense's attention. We basically were still doing well enough with early runs to keep at it until the results got a lot worse than they did before shifting to almost entirely passes.
    Last edited by Haloti92; 10-23-2012 at 10:14 AM.




  10. #10
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    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    I expect less no huddle after the bye week and more Rice, especially on the road against the Browns. They can use more no huddle at home games where the crowd noise won't be a factor. Either way, Rice still needs more carries. You can say the pass happy offense is working by looking at Atlanta, but for the most part, they don't really have any running game what-so-ever. Even Green Bay and New England are struggling this year with the pass happy approach. I'd rather see a balanced offense after the bye and get away from the "sugar no huddle" stuff that really only worked in Week 1!




  11. #11

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    Quote Originally Posted by leachisabeast View Post
    I'm tired of debating this endless pass vs run offense, especially with you two who are the biggest anti Rice and RB guys on this forum (no offense intended). So I'll just leave it at that, but this team is not going to win on the road by being a pass first team, that's just how it is, and so far with the way things have gone you cannot argue with that. What did we do in KC to win the game in the end after the pass offense was clearly failing all day? We pounded the ball with Rice to finish the game off.
    I am not anti-Rice or anti-RB. You can accuse me of being whatever you want, but you're not addressing my points while I've addressed yours. You can say "that's just how it is," but that doesn't mean anything.

    Ray Rice is a great player; he's our most consistent offensive player. But in today's NFL, with the team that we have, this team isn't going to hand the ball off 40 times a game, pass it 20 times, and win. I'm sorry, but I've made my argument why that won't happen and you've not addressed it. We don't have the defense and we don't even have a world-class running game anyway.

    What I WILL concede you readily is that if we continue to be pass-first but don't improve in any way on the road, then yes, we will lose a lot. The difference between us is that you think simply running the ball more on the road will produce more wins. I do not think that is the case, not without a corresponding improvement in the passing game.

    I WOULD like to see Rice more involved in the passing game, and that's one way we'll get better in that respect. The Texans spied him out of the backfield to take him away, and that SHOULD have opened things up in the middle of the field, but Cam didn't use the middle of the field and Flacco wasn't accurate when he went there anyway. You have to understand, Ray Rice is always going to be among the keys to this offense, even in a pass-first mode; no sane Ravens fan is ever going to be "anti-Rice" or whatever nonsense terms you want to use. We all understand that.

    The IDEAL formulation of this Ravens offense (and we're nowhere close to ideal, but this is what it would be) is the '99 Rams' Greatest Shown on Turf. They ran a Coryell offense with two speed burners on the outside, a sure-handed, physical veteran in the slot, a shifty, every-down RB who caught passes out of the backfield like no one else and demanded the respect of the defense, and a QB who liked to throw the ball downfield (over 9 YPA average from 99-01.) There are differences, but that's what this offense can look like at its very best.




  12. #12

    Re: We need to let go of the notion that the Ravens can be a run-first team; not this year

    Quote Originally Posted by bmorecareful View Post
    The IDEAL formulation of this Ravens offense (and we're nowhere close to ideal, but this is what it would be) is the '99 Rams' Greatest Shown on Turf. They ran a Coryell offense with two speed burners on the outside, a sure-handed, physical veteran in the slot, a shifty, every-down RB who caught passes out of the backfield like no one else and demanded the respect of the defense, and a QB who liked to throw the ball downfield (over 9 YPA average from 99-01.) There are differences, but that's what this offense can look like at its very best.
    That's actually what this offense does look like at M&T. From my other post,

    Flacco home: 143 att, 96 comp, 67.13%, 1301 yds, 9.1 y/a, 7 TD, 2 INT, 106.4 rating

    The inability to even get close to this in other stadiums is... kind of frustrating.




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