Was Suggs right about Rice being underutilized?

October 25, 2011|By Matt Vensel

A few of you chided me last week for writing a post about how the Ravens usually win when Ray Rice has 20 or more touches in a game. I should have just typed in “Captain Obvious” in as the byline, shouldn’t I have?

Yet here we are eight days (and approximately 57 minutes of awful offense) later, pointing fingers after the Ravens offense sputtered out in a nationally-televised egg-laying session in Jacksonville. My point about Rice getting the rock was way too obvious for a handful of blog commenters, but the message apparently went into junk email folders over at the Castle. Rice had just eight carries in Monday night’s 12-7 loss to the Jaguars.

I understood the criticism of my blog post about how that stat could be misleading. Of course the Ravens are going to give Rice the football often when they are leading games late and trying to pound out the clock.

But the point I was trying to make was that the Ravens were 3-4 since the start of the 2010 season in games in which Rice got fewer than 20 touches (excluding one game last season where he was limited by an injury). They are now 3-5 in those games, and the Ravens lost by more than a touchdown in only one of those losses (the 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 2). So they abandoned the run by choice, not out of necessity.

Monday night’s loss was a perfect example of that.

Make no mistake, Rice had a rough first half. He coughed up one fumble and nearly lost another one (he was saved by a correct challenge by Ravens coach John Harbaugh). One Joe Flacco pass glanced off his hands and was nearly intercepted. He went into the locker room with nine rushing yards on four carries.

He probably should have just stayed there considering how he was a total afterthought in the second half.

Rice finished with eight carries for 28 yards, something that caught the attention of linebacker Terrell Suggs.

"I don't really know what the game plan was," Suggs told reporters after the game. "When I have a Pro Bowl running back, and he's not getting his touches, I'm going to feel some kind of way about it. He wants the ball. And I think we should feed him. Ray Rice is a phenomenal player. You have to use your phenomenal players.”

Rice is the Ravens’ most phenomenal player on offense. Maybe he wouldn’t have carried the Ravens to a win if he got his 20 touches. Maybe he would have. But running the ball 12 times on 53 plays obviously didn’t work.

Your turn: Was Ray Rice underutilized in Monday night’s ugly 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars?

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