Despite the improved play by Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens still finished the 2009 season in the bottom half of the league in passing. The front office answered by picking up Donte’ Stallworth and trading for Anquan Boldin, two proven veterans. Add them to Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, and a pair of rookie tight ends, and you have Ravens fans everywhere wanting to light up the scoreboard by airing it out.
How quickly we forget that the Ravens’ success has never come from a flashy air attack, but from a smart air attack coupled with a hard-nosed, old school running game. The Lombardi Trophy that sits in Baltimore is from a Jamal Lewis ran offense, not a Tony Bank-lead offense. Matter of fact, only one team in history has won the Lombardi by being the best passing team in the league.
We like to think that the best passing game translates into the best offense, but let the record show that the NFL’s No. 1 passing teams have only 5 Super Bowl apperances: the 84′ Miami Dolphins, the 99′ and 01′ St. Louis Rams, the 02′ Oakland Raiders and the 07′ New England Patriots. Those teams went 1-4 in the Super Bowls, and the 99′ title game ended with Tennessee on St. Louis’ 1-yard line. So the No. 1 ranked passing offenses are just 1 yard shy of being winless in every Super Bowl they’ve entered. In each of those five cases, the quarterbacks of the top-ranked passing attack were the league’s MVP: Dan Marino in 84′, Kurt Warner in 99′ and 01′, Rich Gannon in 02′ and Tom Brady in 07′.
While we’re all excited about the potential of a pass-happy offense, the Ravens have a dangerous arsenal in the backfield that shouldn’t be forgotten. Maybe you fans are still salivating at the idea of having a passing attack in B-More, but let me remind you that the run game is still a pivotal part of the Ravens offense. Why? Because they’re good.
Ben Grubbs and the front O-line is probably one of the top three in run blocking, top five at worst. And with Le’Ron McClain lead blocking, I challenge you to find a better O-line/Fullback combination.
Meanwhile, Willis McGahee turned into a touchdown monster, scoring 12 last season (both rushing and receiving). After opting to stay in Baltimore, Coach Harbaugh eluded to giving McGahee more carries this season. Of course this can all change with the blink of an eye, but nevertheless the Ravens’ rushing offense is dangerous no matter who is holding the rock.
And let’s not forget about Ray Rice, who was second in the league for yards gained from scrimmage last year, only behind Titans’ RB Chris Johnson. With 702 receiving and 1,339 rushing yards, Rice was only 1 of 2 backs to surpass 2,000+ yards in 2009. And that’s who Ray Rice is; not saying he single-handedly made the Ravens a better team, but let’s give credit to where it’s due. But it seems like Rice doesn’t think he hasn’t been given that credit.
“I still feel like I’m a guy that is underrated,” Rice said on BaltimoreRavens.com. “My plan is to go out there and prove it all over again, that this wasn’t just a one-year thing. My personal goal is to do more than I did last year as far as total yards, but the overall goal is to win,” he said. “I want to go after my personal goals and win at the same time. We’ve been a playoff team and have been contenders for the last few years. With the pieces we have on offense, I think we have a very good shot.”
So let’s dance with Rice and company this season. After all, running in Baltimore has always worked thus far.