Baltimore Ravens: Alex Collins Needs to Stay the Starting Running Back

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 26: Quarterback Joe Flacco
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 26: Quarterback Joe Flacco /

Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins has been the brightest spot on what has been a struggling offense, and he should stay the starter.

Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins has been the brightest spot on what’s been a struggling offense, currently ranked 27th in the NFL in total offensive yards.

Currently, Collins leads the NFL in yards per carry at 6.0. That’s right, he leads the league, ahead of Le’Veon Bell, ahead of Ezekiel Elliott, ahead of Leonard Fournette. Granted, Collins hasn’t had as many carries, but he’s been impressive and explosive every time he’s given the ball.

Entering last Thursday’s game, the Miami Dolphins had the fifth-best run defense in football. Collins promptly ran the ball 18 times for 113 yards on that defense and showed off just how explosive he can be.

That burst, that’s what has been missing from the Baltimore Ravens running game. Coming into the season, it looked like Terrance West would be the team’s between-the-tackles back with Danny Woodhead assuming the receiving back role.

Once Woodhead was out with a hamstring injury, Javorius Allen assumed his role, and even when West was healthy, Collins was slowly eating into his workload. Once West went down with a calf injury, Collins got the full-time gig, and he should stay there.

In just 80 carries, four games started, Alex Collins has 478 rushing yards on the season. That’s good for ninth in the NFL, ahead of C.J. Anderson, LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, and Mark Ingram, and just behind LeSean McCoy, all of whom have had at least 100 carries on the year so far. That’s good company to be in.

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The Baltimore Ravens offense has been struggling, that’s no secret, but lately , t’s just been the passing game that’s struggled. Alex Collins has given the Ravens’ running game life, and he needs to stay there to keep that going.

West and Woodhead look to be returning from their injuries relatively soon, and the Ravens are going to be faced with a decision of what to do with a backfield that includes West, Woodhead, Allen, Collins, and Bobby Rainey.

Rainey will likely be cut, and Woodhead’s return will likely eat into Allen’s playing time more than Collins’, but Collins needs to stay on as the starter, even when West comes back.

West has been fine as a running back, but not special. We haven’t seen West have that level of explosiveness and evasiveness that Collins, not to mention Collins’ size and power.

The one major downside to Collins has been ball security. It’s a problem that’s haunted him all the way back to his days with the University of Arkansas, but aside from one fumble so far this year, he’s been fine, and as he told ESPN, he’s getting more confident.

“I feel like [the confidence is] definitely growing,” he said. “It’s just getting the feel for the team and getting the playbook and working with the quarterbacks and other running backs. They do a great job of just bringing me along and helping me learn a new scheme. I feel like when you know what you’re doing out there, you can play fast and confident.”

Next: Danny Woodhead Returns to Practice

If he can hang onto the ball, there is very little downside to this guy and nothing but potential. The Ravens are sitting at 4-4 right now and if they want to propel themselves towards the playoffs and beyond, they need a spark, and Alex Collins is the man who can give them that spark.