I'll take the triple threat

FACEOFF

Jamal Lewis Or The Ravens' Three-headed Monster?

October 29, 2008|By BILL ORDINE

When the Browns snagged ex-Ravens star Jamal Lewis as a free agent, Cleveland general manager Phil Savage bet that Lewis still had something left in the tank. Savage, Baltimore's former director of player personnel, was right. Lewis gained more than 1,300 yards last season and is on track for 1,100 this year.

And while fans here might wonder whether the Ravens gave up too soon on Lewis - and got a dubious trade-off when they dealt for Willis McGahee - they should put those concerns aside. The Ravens are far better off.

For one thing, while McGahee is criticized for being an on-and-off performer, he still rushed for 1,200 yards last season and is on pace for more than 800 this season. McGahee is not only 2 years younger than Lewis, but he also has about 1,000 fewer rushing attempts on his body.

But more significant is that in making the switch in principal ball carriers, the Ravens also put themselves on the path to diversifying their backfield so that they now have a change-of-pace attack with a speed slasher (McGahee), a bulldozer (Le'Ron McClain) and a multiple-threat quickness guy (Ray Rice).

The three current running backs make the Ravens a far more difficult team to game-plan against.

With Lewis, a defense knew what it was going to get. Now, the Ravens can plug in different packages as game conditions dictate. They can switch gears, take advantage of mismatches - even pull off the occasional option play.

No question the Browns got a good deal in Lewis. But the Ravens did themselves better by letting him go and moving on to an offense with more promise.

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