Much was made last Sunday about Joe Flacco's five-interception performance in the Ravens loss to the Bills. And deservedly so, because Flacco's $100 million arm was shaky, and it seemed like the offensive play calling was tenuous as well.
Running back Ray Rice played almost no factor in the contest, rushing for 17 yards on five carries and failing to catch a single pass. It's the first time since the beginning of the 2011 season that Rice played significant snaps and didn't catch a ball thrown to him.
Obviously, this is a problem (and inconveniently, former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is no longer around to blame for the Ravens' inability to get the ball in Rice's hands).
Coach John Harbaugh explained that Rice didn't get in the open field much -- Flacco only targeted him once -- because he had to stay behind and help the offensive line pass protect. But Baltimore realizes the folly of its ways, and Harbaugh said the team needs to get Rice more touches. (This should seem obvious to anybody who watches football, by the way.)
"Absolutely," Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. "We need to get Ray out. We had some five-man protections where he was releasing, but we just weren't able to get him the ball. They were covering him and had a guy on him pretty tight. But we need to get Ray involved, in every single way -- the pass game, run game, every single way. It's definitely going to be important for us. We want to do it every week and obviously we didn't do a good job of that last Sunday."
Rice hasn't made much of an impact at all this season, as you can see from the Pro Football Reference graph below:
Combine that with Flacco's struggles, and you've got a Ravens squad which will have a tough time finding a playoff spot if it keeps playing this way (I was going to joke about left tackl Eugene Monroe, who was traded to Baltimore on Tuesday, coming in and playing the team's savior, but then I remember how influential Bryant McKinnie was for the Ravens in last year's playoffs).
Rice might be one key to getting the team back to normal. But if you believe what Rice says, he'll continue pass protecting when he's asked to do so.
“One thing I know that's important is for Joe Flacco to not to get touched," Rice said. "So if it's a week where they want me to chip, I'll chip."
Follow Josh Katzowitz on Google+