December 9, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running backs Ray Rice (27) , Bernard Pierce (30) and Anthony Allen (35) walk onto the field prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens: The State of the Ground Game

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The Baltimore Ravens struggled last season with the offense, mostly because the running game was absent. The offense was inconsistent, whether it was focusing on the passing game or the running game.

With no ground game, Joe Flacco was forced to carry the offense forward. He is not that type of quarterback who can throw 50 passes a game to lead the team to consistent wins.

The Ravens have had no consistent identity with the offense. The ground game was a vital part of the offense’s identity, but with the future put on Flacco’s shoulders, the passing game was seen to be sufficient to replace the ground game when it faltered.

With an injured Ray Rice last season, which seemed to affect his gameplay, Flacco ended up attempting more than 600 passes, which was nearly a 100 more than his previous career high.

Because of the increased pass attempts, he had more completions, but he also passed for more interceptions.

This year, Gary Kubiak’s offense is supposed to change all of this. The Ravens’ run game will be used more effectively than within Cam Cameron’s or Jim Caldwell’s offense.

Rather than having the passing game and the running game playing separately, they will begin to complement each other to form a complete identity on the offensive side of the ball.

I have gone back and watched the Houston Texans gameplay, which according to Ravens’ sources is a very good template to see how the Ravens will proceed in the fall.

The run game displayed a distinct game plan every week, which will help Flacco play to the best of his ability in the form of a zone blocking scheme. This set up will help the running game while also opening up the passing game.

The only thing I worry about is the Rice situation. He and his wife met with Roger Goodell a little a while ago to discuss what has happened. With past players to examine for a precedent as to what could transpire, there most likely is retribution coming for Rice in the form of a suspension in the beginning of the season.

Rice is more fit this offseason and seems ready to make a big impact for the offense with this new identity. The new scheme is indeed complicated, as the Ravens players have noted. This is evident also from all that has been written in the past relative to the Texans’ use of a zone blocking set up in the past.

The Ravens have not ignored the offseason problems that have occurred, so I would expect them to prepare the running backs to pick up the slack in Rice’s possible absence.

Rice is going to have to make the best of training camp and preseason games to maintain his readiness to play in this new offense.

The Baltimore Ravens are expected to be healthy headed into training camp, which should mean Bernard Pierce is ready to get back to football. The Ravens will need him to pick up the slack if Rice is suspended.

This is not just an important period for Pierce and Rice, but with new veteran running back Justin Forsett also. The Ravens’ running backs need to prepare for the beginning of the season.

”The offense will work as a whole unit, which means everyone needs to be on the same page”

With the new offensive identity, the running game is vital for success. There will no longer be switching from a running offense one week to passing the next week. The offense will work as a whole unit, which means everyone needs to be on the same page.

This would be easier if Rice was not facing suspension, but he has attended OTAs and minicamp before training camp, so I hope he has prepared himself to maintain consistency after possibly missing the first part of the season. The first part of the season is an important part to a new offense, since preseason games are often used to decide who is going to make the roster or not.

On a final note, Flacco should excel in this new offense with the use of play action, which has worked quite well in the past. This offense is the type Flacco needs to be a consistent quarterback to lead the Baltimore Ravens back to the playoffs.

The state of the ground game is an important aspect to pay attention to as training camp beings next month.

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