Rice, Pierce and a Player to be Named

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins
Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Ozzie Newsome has said it, Steve Bisciotti has said it, John Harbaugh has said it and so has Dennis Pitta.

It’s important for the Ravens to improve their running game.

Talk about a statement of the obvious!

Let’s not belabor the painfully woeful stats from the 2013 season. Instead let’s borrow a line from John Lennon in The Beatles’ Getting Better…

“It can’t get any worse.”

We all know that the coaching staff is hell bent on fixing the offense’s groundless attack. But whom will the Ravens employ to get it done.

It looks like Eugene Monroe will be back. That’s a plus. Marshal Yanda will be healthier. That’s a plus. And word is that Kelechi Osemele is recovering well from back surgery. Another plus!

But who will be the right tackle? Who will be the center?

Ozzie Newsome doesn’t casually toss around team goals and objectives yet he made it very clear at the State of the Ravens presser that the team needs to get bigger and stronger in the middle of the offensive line. I doubt he was talking about KO or Yanda.

However that could mean that KO might bump back out to right tackle and the team could go with a new left guard who may be more economical than a new right tackle.

Still, even after the Ravens reconfigure their offensive line, do they have reliable talent in the backfield to carry the rock?

Ray Rice is seemingly in the witness protection program these days and it’s quite possible that he’ll be looking at a 2 game suspension at some point during the 2014 season. And let’s face it, there are no guarantees that he will return to the Ray Rice form from 2010-2012.

Rice’s backup Bernard Pierce seems to be better as a 10-12 carries per game kind of back instead of a workhorse. His durability has to be a concern particularly after undergoing rotator cuff surgery this offseason.

It is generally assumed that the Ravens will spend a draft pick on a running back sometime during day 2 or 3 of the 2014 NFL Draft. But Ozzie Newsome doesn’t like having need dictated to him during the draft and that could mean that he’ll look to the free agent market for a running back, a position that is quite bearish for players.

Perhaps the most intriguing name among free agents for the Ravens is Ben Tate, an Eastern Shore native who offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is very familiar with. But even in a bearish market Tate might be a little too expensive to be slotted into a part-time role.

Others to keep an eye on could be Donald Brown (Colts) and LaGarrette Blount (Patriots), although you have to wonder if Blount might be out of bounds for the Ravens given their recent rash of off-the-field incidents. Let’s not forget that Bill Belichick had to give Blount a friendly warning when the Patriots traveled to Denver for the AFC Championship Game.

The warning was about Colorado’s tolerance of recreational blunts.

Today should be fun.

Happy New Year NFL!

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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

7 Raves on “Rice, Pierce and a Player to be Named

  1. JerryB on said:

    Prior to last year, both Rice and Pierce were solid performers, the former a Pro Bowl caliber back. However, they both sustained injuries and were forced to run behind an inferior OL with a different blocking scheme and virtually no lead blocking. So, before giving up on either, let’s see what happens this year. That being said, they do need a third RB. Without doubt, though, the numero uno priority for this team is a major overhaul of the OL, because we’ve now seen what happens when there’s inadequate run blocking and pass protection……..

  2. JJ on said:

    Thanks Tony.

    I believe the O Line is the key to fixing the run game. Starting most importantly with Center. I don’t want to beast on Gino but Yanda had to smack him on his backside when Flacco was ready for the ball. He may develop into a good Center but last year he was pretty bad and another year of on the job training wouldn’t be cool.

    How about an O line like this:

    Monroe, KO, (sign a veteran Center like Brian De La Puente), Yanda, Wagner or draft a Right Tackle. I’m really not opposed to bringing back Oher either. I don’t understand all the vitriol over Oher. Except for the false starts he’s been decent and he sure seems to be a good locker room guy.

    As far as running backs, I think we need to see what Rice and Pierce can do behind a better O line. Having said that, depth is the name of the game and while I like Cierre Wood bringing in another veteran sure makes sense especially if Rice is found guilty of wrongdoing and has to miss time.

  3. Mark on said:

    Tony, The Ravens also have a former Houston Texan ZBS/one cut runner on the roster: Cierre Wood.
    He was cut by Houston after a weed incident. Is he better than Pierce or Rice in Kubiak’s scheme? I dont know but he can’t be any worse and I hope they give him a chance. Also, I bet they draft one in the usual zone runner rounds (4-7)

  4. Joshua on said:

    How about the player-to-be-named be Isaiah Crowell? We could grab him in the later rounds of the draft. He was kicked out of Georgia, finished up at Alabama State, and would be a solid complement to “Sugar” Ray Rice and Pierce.

  5. jws on said:

    Hey TL good stuff for fans to think about. It all starts with a solid offensive line that should have never started with Harbaugh’s friend Castillo being the coach. With todays exclusive rights players signed which by the way for many years do not include ANY offensive lineman and McFarland reporting other cap hits the true amount for cap spending is going down quickly. If Monroe is signed by the free agent start date at 4PM or soon after after subtracting his annual cap hit the amount remaining will be much less with best guess being under 13 million when all is said and done including rookie contract allowances. My sources say LB D Smith is likely not re-signing here. Panthers Steve Smith althogh small and 35 years old is a Mason type addition that will be a better fit than Jacoby Jones ata chaeaper price tag. Where a running back comes from and which if any Texan players are signed in free agency like TE Daniels are interesting thoughts to ponder.As for now….. let us all sit back and see what Ozzie will do in free agency since we have NO control of any Raven decisions.

  6. Nick on said:

    I think the running game is going to get fixed. The whole offense might be fixed and rank among the top of the entire league by the end of the year. Think about the new OC we got. Gary Kubiak is the only offensive mastermind any of our offensive players have ever been coached by. I think our players are a lot better than we think we’ve just never had someone like Kubiak before. Also, we have Engram at WR coach, Hammock at RB coach, Dennison (Best friends with Kubiak) at QBs coach, and Pariani at TEs coach. Those are all new coaches and if you consider last years name tag, Juan Castillo was technically the OL coach but this year he’s actually designated as the OL coach instead of Moeller. That’s an entire new offensive coaching staff, all new blood, all new offensive philosophy. If these fresh faces have a healthy offensive line, a quarterback with a cannon for an arm and chemistry with a pretty good TE, good WRs and good RBs, there’s no reason we can’t take off next year right?

    The only bad thing I can think of is we’re still waiting to see if we’re going to let Gino Gradkowski handle the Center position again or if we’re going to try and sign a veteran and we don’t know if someone like Ricky Wagner can handle RT or if we have to address that from the draft or free agency as well. Also, now that I think of it, new coaches are going to have to get on the same page quick.

    If we draft that guy from Towson, I’d be happy, I like when we sign local products but if someone says that we can get someone better then let’s do that instead.

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