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Running the Ball

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Having just done a pretty standard Friday afternoon bolt around the web, I'm finding a whole lot of this: "This Ravens team is built around a physical running game," quickly followed in most cases by, "which will continue to be the key to beating the Steelers."


I know it's beating a dead horse, but let's just be honest about it... that statement (the first one) is false.


This team SHOULD be built around a physical running game. It's what led us to success against the Steelers in week one. It's what has consistently given us our strongest offensive output. But, for the better part of this season, that's not what we as a team have been doing. It's simply not. In fact, driving home last week (I had to listen to the game on the radio), I heard the local fellas on 98 Rock and then on Fox when I got home, talk about how the Ravens, Cameron and Flacco were very open about "establishing the run by using the pass."


So, we're not built around running the ball. We should be. But we're not. And we haven't been for most of this season.


And that pisses me off. Because everyone else sees it - clear as day - as the basis of our success. And they should. That doesn't mean be boring or slow or un-explosive. It means USE the strength that we have as a team - run the ball. Even when they put 8 in the box - run the ball.

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Running the ball. What's that ? We havent seen a really consistent running game since we had the hammer ~ JLewis. You might argue we had a decent running game 2-3 years ago - the same year I recall Willis and Le Ron had 2 long TDs against Cowboys (sat night game). .


Really, I share your frustration, DC, but I dont see us having a solid running attack until we (not necesarily in this order) :


1. Have a hammer to complement Ray Rice. Ray is a great runner but he cant carry a team on his back like Jamal Lewis did. Maybe next yr or after ?

2. Establish a healthy, consistent OL with solid continuous play at LT and RT. No more musical chairs on the OL.

3. Get our OC issues straightened out.


So, until that happens, we will get more of the same - 1 week a good running game, another week a good passing game, next weeek - neither. Fourth week - who the heck knows ?

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I agree that we can't be a ground pound it team as varaven has pointed out. Ray Rice doesn't have the build to hammer and the OL is suspect there without Grubbs as well.


Plus, the most successful offenses in the league right now are pass-first, run-second---its the way the rules are currently configured.

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I was thinking the same thing dc.


Maybe the media only watches a few Ravens games a year and assumes they are basicly the same; pound the football, play solid D.

That is not what they are doing this year. The D's solid but the Ravens are 21st in rushing.


For Cam it's all about touches for Ray Rice so those short passes are his way of running the ball. Get Rice in an open field...one on one...and a lot of damage is done. 864 yards worth so far this year for Rice rushing and receiving..7 TD's and 11.3 yards per catch.


Now...they can run on the Steelers if they want to...if they don't fall behind.

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I just have to totally disagree that Ray's not capable of running the ball a ton to get this offense moving. First, with Ricky behind him, we should be able to. But second, it's not just about 'pounding the ball,' it's about creating enough of a presence in the run game to open everything else up and it's about using a strength to really hold a team down when we get them there. The old "keep 'em honest" game plan.


Additionally, with Vonte back there, he can do all the hitting on the line and Ray can simply be effective with the ball in his hands. But let's put it this way... effective at running or not, teams pretty much know that we're going to throw more than we run right now. And that's stupid and it's certainly not good for Joe or our receiving corps or our offensive line, who can't pass block.


Lastly... I could care what the most successful offenses in the league do. Here's what every successful offense/defense/team does: what works for them. I think we score more points if Ray/Ricky get more consistent touches. I think we score more points if the play-action actually catches a D off guard. I think we score more points when the safeties are cheating up into the box and DBs are playing a little tighter, making it easier for a young WR like Williams or Smith to beat them deep. I don't think we score points by imitating the Pats when we're not the Pats or by making Flacco, the OL and the WRs act like Rodgers/the Pack or Brees/the Saints when they aren't.

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I like the points everybody is making and I agree with them. So naturally, I'll just belabor them to hear myself type...sorry about that.


DC, I think your general point is accurate. We should be built around the run but aren't. I think the largest example of how we are built for passing is in the choice of our TE's. Dickson and Pitta are both poor blocking TE's. In rewatching the games I see them both struggle consistently in the run game, often causing the play to go afoul. If the coaching staff truly wanted to emphasize the run, we would see a lot more of Kris Wilson.


I think Varaven has a good point that we really don't have a bruiser at HB who can sustain a 20+ carry workload for 16+ games. Still, Rice is too scary a weapon (for the opponent) to leave him on the bench too long. He reminds me of Joe Washington. It would be nice to see more of Williams to close out games though, e.g. the St. Louis game - what happened to closing that one out?


Mr. Berry is right though, all the offenses are built pass-first, run-second, the rules almost insist on it. It would take a rare coaching staff to go so far against the grain on that one. Maybe it just isn't possible to be run first in this era, I'll leave that debate up to people who understand the paradigm better than I do. I wish it was possible to still be run first though.


Vmax, I also think we can run on the Steelers, especially if Grubbs comes back. The key to our week one success was getting Hampton on the ground - I think Grubbs is more adept at the cut block than Gurode...Yanda is great at it right now, like he is at most aspects of his game, what a great player Yanda is right now. If we can consistently get Hampton/Hoke/McLendon on the ground, our run game will go.


BTW, it is odd how most Steeler folks focus on cutting Ngata, the player they need to cut is Cody/McKinney. Ngata is our 3 technique guy in a 4-3 or a 5 technique guy in the 3-4, cutting him would be tough (an OT or TE would have to do it), plus it wouldn't open up the cutback lane. So, try and cut him if you want, but it won't help much (it would help a little). The run game will come down to who can most effectively get the 1 technique guy on the ground. It will either be us against their 10 year veteran guys (Hampton and Hoke) or them against our 2 year veteran guy...I like our chances better.


It doesn't matter though, the Steelers won't even bother to try and run it, they are a pass first, second and third team. For them the key will be getting Art Jones, McPhee, Redding and Ngata blocked on the inside pass rush. Their run game is an afterthought.

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