Baltimore Ravens vs Houston Texans: What We Learned

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Dec 21, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) rushes during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Forsett is worn down

I have been extremely critical of Justin Forsett in recent weeks. That doesn’t take away from the miraculous season he has had, but rather it is a reflection of his current reality. Dealing with a leg injury and the biggest workload of his career, Forsett no longer looks explosive or dynamic. He isn’t breaking tackles anymore, and he is not exploding through the hole.

Forsett has been awesome this year, a true revelation. He was asked to do too much, though, and it shows with every carry. And with nobody trustworthy to spell him (the second option against the Texans was rookie Fitzgerald Toussaint), the Ravens running game is probably done for the year. Bernard Pierce has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can’t find the hole in the zone blocking scheme, so there really is nothing behind Forsett to carry the load.

The Ravens have one more game, and Forsett will almost certainly garner the majority of the carries. That’s by necessity, but it is not ideal.

The more interesting question at this point is what the Ravens do with Forsett this offseason. He is a sub-200 pound back who will turn 30 during next year, so a big deal is out of the question. A dumb, running back starved team could make an offer, but more likely, Forsett won’t be a hot commodity. The Ravens should be able to retain him at an affordable price, maybe a two-year deal for $5 or $6 million.

Ideally, with a deal like that, the Ravens would start to feature Lorenzo Taliaferro more, eventually grooming him to take over as the bell-cow back. If he can stay healthy, Taliaferro has the best chance of anybody in this backfield to carry the load next year and in the future. And quite frankly, the prospect of an improved Taliaferro leading the way with Forsett as a change of pace sounds like a great backfield to me.

There is long-term hope here. For this season, though, the Ravens’ ground game will be a liability the rest of the way.