The Ray Rice Factor
I am a fan, I’m not a coach. I possess a lot of football knowledge but I have actually never even played a down of organized football in my life (soccer was my fall sport). My knowledge about this gridiron game should never be even in the same ballpark as that of a professional NFL coach or coordinator. Unfortunately, it seems that with a certain coach in Baltimore, it is.
Once again the Ravens have lost to an inferior opponent and once again Ray Rice was all but eliminated from the equation. The box wasn’t stacked with nine defenders. Rice wasn’t double-teamed on passing routes. No, Ray Rice was eliminated from the game by his own team and more specifically, Cam Cameron.
In every loss this season, the same recipe for disaster has been used and each loss tastes just as horrible as the last. The Ravens were beat more by their own coaching staff and planning than they were by the opposing team. It’s no secret that this 2011 Ravens squad is inconsistent and the same can be said for the play calling. A team which drafted and groomed Rice into a top tier running back in the NFL has only called for the rush a staggering 38% of the time. The blame for this level of mismanagement can be pointed at Cam Cameron and at John Harbaugh for turning a blind eye to his ineffectiveness as a coordinator.
The solution to the Ravens’ problem is simple and can be seen by everyone except the ones wearing Motorola headsets. Keeping a defense honest and guessing is Football Offense 101; this course apparently isn’t on the curriculum at Ball So Hard University. The proof is in the pudding. Ray Rice’s three lowest rush totals of the year all came in the three losses (Ten- 13, Jax- 8, Sea-5).
In yesterday’s NFL action, let’s take a quick look at the winning teams and how often their running backs carried the ball.
OAK- Bush- 30 carries
TEN- Johnson -27 carries
PIT- Mendenhall- 16 carries
STL- Jackson- 27 carries
DAL- Murray 20 carries
JAX- Jones-Drew- 25 carries
DEN- Ball- 30 carries
MIA- Bush- 14 carries Thomas- 17 carries
NO- Thomas- 6 carries Ingram- 8 carries (Drew Brees offense)
ARI- Wells- 23 carries
HOU- Foster- 17 carries Tate- 13 carries
SEA- Lynch- 32 carries
CHI- Forte- 18 carries
SF- Gore Injured
NE- 23 combined carries between 4 RB’s
If these statistics prove anything, it’s pretty obvious that running the ball gives your team the best chance of winning. Ray Rice is arguably better than EVERY ONE of the running backs listed above. The Ravens faced a Seahawks team which finds itself 12th in the league for total rushing defense. Abandoning the run game is necessary when you’re consistently losing yardage; that wasn’t the case on Sunday.
After failing to use the shotgun formation the first few games of the season, Joe Flacco was in it most of the game Sunday. Flacco received a boost in confidence last week after a big win over Pittsburgh but it quickly was diminished after yesterday’s game plan and performance. The Ravens have the luxury of an explosive player who can make things happen if the quarterback can just hand the ball off. Cam Cameron forced Joe to throw and once again can be blamed for another horrific offensive performance.
The big picture here is that Cam Cameron can drive Ray Rice out of town. Rice is a free agent at the end of the year and instead of him simply resigning with Baltimore and not looking at other teams, he should strongly consider testing the market. The results we’ve seen from this offense has far more to do with the people designing plays and dictating game plans than it does the talent on the field. Ravens fans can only wonder if Rice wants to continue to be grounded when he knows he can help the team.
We’ll just have to wait and see, much like we’ll have to wait and see if the team has finally had enough of Cam Cameron.