Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce haven’t been themselves of late. The running game seems to be stuck in the mud as this season begins with both backs averaging less than 3.0 yards per carry. Rice has toted the rock 25 times for 72 yards (2.9 ypc) and Pierce with 28 carries for 79 yards (2.8 ypc). To put it in perspective, Adrian Peterson gained more yards on his first carry of the season (77 yards) than Ray Rice has amassed in the first two games combined.
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Health permitting, Ray Rice is on pace to receive just 200 carries this season. It would be the lowest amount of his career since his rookie year when he played second fiddle to Willis McGahee (107). In 2011 he rushed 291 times for 4.7 ypc. In 2012 that number dropped to 257 carries and 4.4 ypc. He’s in line for another drop off in carries this year, and the yards per carry is going right along with it at 2.9. Is Ray Rice a guy that needs the ball more to have more success?
Elusive rating takes the impact of the offensive line out of the equation. It’s a measure of how hard the ball carrier is to bring down. How many missed tackles the runner forces. Noted is the performance by Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce in the 2012 regular season, post season, and so far this season. C.J. Spiller led the league in this category last year with a rating of 94.7. But anything over 50.0 would land you in the top five in the league. As you can see, Ray Rice hasn’t been shaking many tackles. Bernard Pierce’s numbers are going to be higher because of the small sample size. However, his 28 carries so far do qualify him. That being said, Pierce has the 4th best elusive rating in the NFL after two weeks at 59.1, behind LeSean McCoy (100.3), Trent Richardson (94.2) and Adrian Peterson (86.0). That is good company for the second year back out of Temple. Pierce has forced eight missed tackles on his 28 carries. Ray Rice with just one forced missed tackle on his 25 carries, and three on his 11 receptions.
What this means is that Ray Rice is better when he gets out into open space because he’s not as good at breaking tackles. So are the Ravens misusing Rice? Last week, Rice carried the ball off-tackle, or on a sweep just four times. But they pounded Rice up the middle nine times. Bernard Pierce on the other hand, went off-tackle/sweep 11 times. Up the middle just eight times.
If Ray Rice is only going to get 200 carries this year, Jim Caldwell needs to utilize him better to get the most production out of him. More off end, strong side rushes where a TE stays home to block for him. Or make him a larger part of the passing game especially against zone defenses where he can find a hole and settle in it. Let Bernard Pierce take it in the teeth, running it up the gut where he has a better chance of getting some tough yards after contact, putting Joe Flacco in some more manageable 2nd and 3rd down situations.
Here are some other notable stats from the week 2 matchup with the Browns:
Joe Flacco completed 66.6% of his passes with an accuracy rating of 74.2. Much better than the 67.2 accuracy rating he posted in week 1. His PFF Grade of 2.5 was the fourth best among QBs this week.
Torrey Smith was the leading receiver with seven catches for 85 yards. He was targeted on three deep balls over 20 yards, but none we’re deemed catchable. Brandon Stokley was only lined up in the slot 14 times, versus 43 times in the week 1 matchup with Denver. Joe Flacco targeted him in the slot four times, and he caught all four balls for 36 yards.
Ed Dickson dropped a ball and we never heard from him again. Dallas Clark with one catch before having the wind knocked out of him. There was even a Billy Bajema sighting. He led the crew with one catch for 18 yards.
Joe Flacco did a nice job of getting rid of the football. He took just one sack while being hurried 13 times on 36 dropbacks. Bryant McKinnie allowed the lone sack to rookie Barkevious Mingo. Kelechi Osemele allowed four hurries. Marshall Yanda is the only Raven who received an above average run blocking grade.
Haloti Ngata pressured Brandon Weeden three times. His 7.8 pressure percentage was fifth best among defensive tackles in week 2. Arthur Jones four pressures and a sack on 19 passing snaps he played on, gave him a 17.1 pressure percentage, the best in the league among 3-4 defensive ends. Glad to have him back. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil combined for 14 pressures of Weeden. Suggs 18.4 and Dumervil’s 18.3 PRP were third and fourth best respectively. Through two weeks, Suggs also has the best run stop percentage among OLBs at 22.6%. Daryl Smith blitzed 10 times and got pressure on Weeden four times. A much better percentage than he posted in week 1 where Smith got zero pressure on five rushes.
Lardarius Webb didn’t have a great game, allowing five catches on six balls thrown his way. Jimmy Smith improved allowing just four catches on eight targets with just nine yards after the catch. Corey Graham did okay defending the slot. He allowed three catches on four targets for just 19 yards. Michael Huff played just three snaps all game. I think the coaches noticed his lack of effort in week 1. Interesting to see how long Huff stays in the dog house.