Unlike the 2009-10 season, the Ravens’ rushing attack was not particularly one their strong points. They finished 14th in the league in rushing at 114.4 yards per game, which was nine spots down from the previous season when they finished fifth and averaged 137.5 yards per game. Leading rusher Ray Rice’s average yards per rush went down from 5.3 in 2009-10 to 4.0 last season. Rice still had a good year, finishing with 1,220 rushing yards, but I think everyone was expecting a lot more production from him considering he got over 50 more carries than he did in the season before. I’m not really sure what exactly the problem was, but it was probably a mix of poor play calling and defenses having a whole off-season to prepare for Rice. The offensive line not playing up to par on a consistent basis might have had a little to do with it too. I’m not saying their running game was terrible, but it just wasn’t as good as a lot of people were expecting it to be.
The Ravens had a different look to their rushing attack this season as well. Instead of having a triple-headed rushing attack of Rice, Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain like the Ravens had at points last season and the one before, they made Rice the feature back with McGahee getting minimal carries and McClain almost being a non-factor as a runner. I guess the reasoning for them not utilizing all three backs had something to do with Rice doing so well last season, but they went away from something that made them one of the top rushing teams in the league. Hopefully they can figure out what the problem was so they are able to fix it for next season. Here’s a look at what each of the Ravens’ backs did individually in 2010-11.
Ray Rice – 307 carries, 1,220 yards, five touchdowns
Rice was the feature back this season after a stellar 2009-10 campaign. He didn’t have quite as good of a season statistically, which, like I said before, could be due to a combination of things. But he still played well and was one of the Ravens most potent offensive weapons. I think a lot of it had to do with the play calling because there were games that the Ravens just completely abandoned the run in the second half. Granted this wasn’t Rice’s fault, but maybe things will change for next season. Rice is one of the most versatile backs in the league and he needs to be utilized as much as possible because he is a game-changer.
Willis McGahee – 100 carries, 380 yards, five touchdowns
McGahee wasn’t quite as much of a touchdown machine as he was in 2009-10, when he scored 12 rushing touchdowns. Like Rice, McGahee’s average yards per carry also declined, going from 5.0 to 3.8. I still don’t think he is utilized as much as he should be. It’s understandable that when you have a great back like Rice, you’re not going to be able to give McGahee as many carries as he would like. But if you give him the chance, McGahee can be a big weapon and can make some great plays. Giving him just 100 carries isn’t enough for a guy with the skill level and experience that McGahee has.
Le’Ron McClain – 28 carries, 85 yards, zero touchdowns
It was apparent McClain wasn’t happy with his role in the offense last season. I know he is a fullback, but he was probably expecting to have many more carries than he did. McClain had even less than an impact than he had in 2009-10 where he still only had 46 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns. This was quite a switch from what McClain did in 2008-09 when he finished with 232 carries, 902 yards and 10 touchdowns. Having that kind of success may have gotten him thinking that he could be a feature back somewhere, which is probably why he was so upset with the offensive play calling. He did still have a great season as a fullback, which is his actual position anyway. But him not getting the amount of carries he thought he deserved may be enough to push him out of Baltimore this off-season.
Submitted by Steve Giles