Running back projections

Photo courtesy: Baltimore Sun

In this article, we will try to project how the Ravens running game should fair this upcoming season, focusing solely on the feature backs, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

(Discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

2012 was an interesting season to say the least. Ray Rice and “misuse” were two terms that went hand in hand. There was a game that he only received nine carries. Then another game which he was absent from the field on a drive that could have put a game away. The latter of the two games eventually cost Cam Cameron his job the following week. Bernard Pierce getting in the game was practically a dead giveaway that they planned to throw the football on that down.

Jim Caldwell would take over and not only learn from Cameron’s mistakes and make Rice a bigger part of the run game again, but also got Bernard Pierce more involved in the run game.

For simplicity sake, in 2012 the Ravens played 1,112 snaps where Joe Flacco threw a pass, or a run play went to Rice or Pierce. 732 (65.8%) such snaps called under Cam Cameron and 380 (34.2%) by Jim Caldwell. Let’s take a look at the ratios.

Cameron

Flacco

Rice

Pierce

Snaps

447

218

67

% of snaps

61.1%

29.8%

9.1%

 

Caldwell

Flacco

Rice

Pierce

Snaps

202

120

58

% of snaps

53.2%

31.6%

15.2%

The Ravens had 919 such regular season snaps in 2012. If we project the same amount of snaps in 2013, and using Caldwell’s ratios of runs to either back, and passes, here is what you could project for pass attempts and carries this season.

 

Flacco

Rice

Pierce

PassAtt./Carry

489

290

140

There is that notion that Bernard pierce is going to eat into Ray Rice’s carries. But that’s not entirely the case. As evident by the numbers above, he’s eating into Flacco’s pass attempts mostly, which is fine. I love a more balanced attack. Rice and Pierce were splitting carries at about a 3 to 1 ratio under Cam, and about 2 to 1 now. The Ravens have said that the tandem won’t be “splitting” carries by definition, and if Pierce takes away many more, they essentially will be. I think that 290 to 140 will nice, about accurate, and leave room for Rice to be involved in the passing game more. Even if he catches 80 balls, he’ll still be well below 400 touches which teams try to stay away from.

Ray Rice has a career 4.92 yards per carry, postseason included.

290 carries X 4.92 yard per carry = 1,428 yards.

1,428 rushing yards would be good enough for 6th most last season

Bernard Pierce posted 4.99 yards per carry in his rookie campaign.

140 carries X 4.99 yards per carry = 698 yards.

2,126 rushing yards would be good enough for 8th best in the NFL last year. Then you figure in some more yards for QB scrambles, Anthony Allen, Kyle Juszczyk, WR end around a few times, etc…

The top four teams in rushing last season all made the playoffs, and six of the top eight. Kansas City and Buffalo the exceptions. I can’t stress enough the importance of running the football effectively and often.  When you have not one, but two guys averaging almost five yards per carry, why wouldn’t you make that the focal point?

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About the author


Mike Randall   

Ravens Analyst

Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. With BSL, Mike Co-Hosts Ravens Rap weekly with Matt Jergensen. Mike has appeared as a guest on 1370AM.


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