How Long Will Rice and Pierce be the Ravens 1-2 Punch?

Rice Pierce

Heading into the 2001 season the Baltimore Ravens had a Lombardi Trophy in tow and Super Bowl bling on their fingers. But what they didn’t have was a capable backup running back.

Jamal Lewis was heading into his second year as a pro coming off a successful rookie season. Backup Priest Holmes decided to cash in on his team’s success and test the free agent market seeking a job as a starter. He left for Kansas City where he had an extremely successful run as a Chief.

These things happen to Super Bowl winners.

And so do injuries.

On August 8, 2001 Jamal Lewis tore his ACL after a tackle by Kelly Gregg during training camp. With Holmes gone, the Ravens had next to nothing to turn to. The remainder of the season was spent trying to patchwork a running game with a seemingly ancient Terry Allen and an overweight and inexperienced Jason Brookins.

Ozzie Newsome vowed to never again leave the team’s rushing attack so vulnerable.

Fast forward to 2013, the Ravens next adventure as defending champions. This time they find themselves with a 3-time Pro Bowler in starter Ray Rice coupled with a very promising second-year backup in Bernard Pierce who has drawn many comparisons to Arian Foster.

Not a bad one-two punch.

How long might the dynamic pair stay together?

Ray Rice is signed through 2016. Pierce will become an unrestricted free agent after his rookie deal ends in 2015.

That means the Ravens will have both for the next three seasons when it’s likely that they will share the workload, probably to the tune of 60:40 in favor of Rice for 2013. Beyond this coming season, who knows?

Running backs have been known to hit that wall rather abruptly. Splitting carries without a drop off in productivity benefits the team and both players in that it prolongs careers.

What happens between now and the close of 2015 will determine what the Ravens do with the last year of Ray Rice’s deal (to release him then would cost $4.75M in dead cap space) and what they do in the draft.

But for the time being and unlike the last time the Ravens were the defending World Champions, let’s label the seemingly crowded backfield a “good problem.”

The next Jason Brookins won’t be playing in Baltimore.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

8 Raves on “How Long Will Rice and Pierce be the Ravens 1-2 Punch?

  1. JerryB on said:

    Absolutely a “good problem” and, as the passing frenzy continues in the NFL, the running back position will take on a much different “look” in years to come, with more and more emphasis on the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. In fact, the new rookie from Harvard seems to fit that “profile” (with apologies to Brian Billick!) and will be interesting to see how he’s incorporated into the offense this year……..

  2. Josh on said:

    I believe Rice’s cap hits over the length of his contract aren’t too exhaustive for the team to handle, so I agree that we have a great situation on our hands. We could have the best tandem in the league before long.

  3. Ravcolt on said:

    I believe a team needs three healthy running backs. Fortunately they are a dime a dozen. Rice’s shelf life will be revealing after this upcoming year.

    • Josh on said:

      I think the Ravens will keep Rice fresh throughout his contract. Yes, he’ll be our bell-cow, but Pierce is more than capable of handling around 15 carries per game, barring injury. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • fatts on said:

      I hate that dime a dozen saying, so you’re saying that 4th n 29 could of been made by any running back? It’s only 2 or 3 running backs that could of made that play even tho most teams wouldn’t even have a running back on the field during that play.

  4. Anonymous on said:

    Revisionist history blames bringing in Grbac to replace Dilfer is the reason the Ravens didn’t repeat but the RB situation was a much bigger factor. The Ravens hopes died the day Jamal got hurt.

  5. cornell dorsey on said:

    ray is the man ,no doubt about it.but when i watch film on pierce it sends chills .this guy is a pleasure to watch.not arian foster,but adrian peterson in comparison.then you watch rice film and you still get the chills about how good we could be with those two.reasonable comparison to jamal and holmes.but this duo is far more dynamic.both have great speed,both are tough to bring down,both are strong,but the edge on strength goes to pierce. he is bigger.the way he sheds tackles is a sight to see,beautiful runner who will be in demand very soon.matter of fact this new ravens look should bring the house down every game if we play like we rate.other teams of course reloading for this season.but so are we,and cant think of a single team with this array of talent.we are the champs and we have what it takes to defend it.so for al of you ravens haters,and there are a lot of you,watch your mouth

  6. Evolving Situation on said:

    Starting this year and over the next couple of seasons afterwards, we may see Ray become even more of a receiving threat coming out of the backfield. Remember how Roger Craig was the first to get over 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing, during the 49′ers dynasties? Ray Rice could be like that. And letting Pierce get about 15 carries a game is also a good idea.

    If the Ravens play two tight ends, and also get Juice into the offense as a receiver, the entire offense could evolve into a very potent weapon, no matter who plays at wide receiver.

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