November 25, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) watches from the sidelines during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Normally, when an individual is forgotten, it appears that they are not important or not needed. But in the time of need here comes the, ‘oh yeah,’ do not forget about such and such – factor.
The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best playmakers in the NFL in running back Ray Rice, but he appears to be more of an ‘oh yeah’ factor than a – factor.
One of the things that a NFL coach does not want to be called out on is their play calling, which is understandable because no one outside of them know their situation better than they do.
However, for Ravens’ offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to only use Rice, one of the most electrifying backs in the league, 13 times, including just 12 carries for 78 yards, in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was totally disgusting.
The arrogance of Cameron is truly unbelievable.
Is Cameron is good coach, absolutely. Does he use common sense most of the time, no?
Rice was on fire against the big bad Steelers Sunday, and after his 34-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, one would think that with a seven point lead the Ravens would stick to the ground game in the fourth quarter to control the clock and take their shots down the field when the chances were there, especially in a contest where quarterback Joe Flacco struggled.
It was as if the coaching staff told Rice that, ‘oh yeah, you played well after your 12 touches and you will not be needed in the fourth quarter.’
“I don’t know how many touches,” said Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh after Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, 23-20. “Yes, you can write that story if you want, but that’s not the factor in the game. We got the ball to guys, and Bernard Pierce looked pretty good. I thought our guys … We did fine.”
In perhaps the play of the 2012 NFL season where Rice picked up the first down on fourth and 29 against the San Diego Chargers, the dump off pass to Rice appeared to be an, ‘oh yeah, there he is,’ play.
Nov 25, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) is tackled by San Diego Chargers linebacker Andrew Gachkar (59) and defensive end Corey Liuget (94) during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
It is one thing to lose a game when a team comes up short after they gave all their effort. Now, to lose after not given all their effort, by not legitimately exercising all their options, is unacceptable.
“My touches go with the game flow. Obviously, I turned up a huge bunch of yards today, and we could have ran the ball a little bit more,” said Rice. “But you know what? Situational football came into play. We put ourselves in the best situation to try and win the game. It was all about execution today. We just fell a little short. Our offense is still a young, growing offense and we’re going to continue to try and get better each week.”
The Ravens have lost games unnecessarily due to not using all their options, mainly their best option in Rice. Baltimore’s lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 for uncalled for after only using Rice for majority of the first half with a total of 16 carries.
Could the Ravens still have won that game against the Eagles? Yes, after a questionable push off by wide receiver Jacoby Jones late in the fourth quarter that negated a touchdown. Clearly, if the Ravens would have controlled the game on the ground by eating clock, the situation to throw the ball deep late probably would not have been necessary.
Dating back to last season, the Ravens lost senseless games where Rice was not used properly in contests that were not out of reach:
Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans, Rice carried the ball 13 times, Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had eight carries and five catches and in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks, he carried the ball five times, not including eight catches, – but only five times, that is laughable.
The Week 15 matchup against the Chargers, the Ravens were never in that game – but Rice touched the ball 10 times.
There is one thing that all these losses had in common, Flacco struggled.
Dec 2, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) pressured by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Palamalu (43) at M
No one is expecting Flacco to be solid each game, as all quarterbacks struggle from time to time. Flacco is not that type of signal caller that can throw his way out of a slump as he needs all his components around him to click. This is when Rice and the running game should be used to take pressure off Flacco, especially if the game is not out of reach or the Ravens have the lead.
It appears, at times, that the coaching staff does not believe in their system. Coaches around this league get caught up in the deep ball so much that they will air the ball out to become something they are not.
To name a few, the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons are built to throw the ball. The Ravens are not, and for Cameron to allow Flacco to air it out, when they do not have to, is foolish.
When Flacco is struggling, he force bad throws, under throws, get indecisive, and hold the ball too long. Flacco is at his best when he is relaxed and Rice helps balance things out for the Delaware grad.
There is a time when a team should be conservative or aggressive. However, a coaching staff needs to be wise at the opportune time when they should be and able to be conservative or aggressive.
It is easy to be aggressive against the Oakland Raiders because they were an inferior opponent as the Ravens destroyed them in Week 10, 55-20. Moreover, the Ravens must know the signs of the players’ abilities in concern situations to be conservative or aggressive against better squads, which take skills.
Rice will always give the Ravens their best opportunity to win. This is why the coaching staff cannot afford to exclude him at any point of a game.
Because of Cameron’s desire to be a passing team, one cannot help to wonder if Rice is truly an ‘oh yeah, let’s use him’ factor or – a factor.
Barry Barnes is the founder of LockerReport.com and you can follow him @2BSports