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As stated by Head Coach John Harbaugh in the team’s season-ending press conference, fixing the Ravens’ run game will be a top offensive focus this offseason.
On Tuesday, running back Ray Rice weighed in on what he felt went wrong in 2010 and what needs to be addressed moving forward.
The Ravens ranked 14th in the NFL in average yards per game (114.4) and 25th in average yards per rush (3.8). They were still among the league leaders in rushing attempts (6th), but didn’t do it as effectively.
“I feel the run game probably wasn’t as good as it was the previous two years, but I think it was fairly decent,” Rice said.
“At times, we weren’t all on the same page. In the run game, everybody has to be on the same page at the point of attack.”
Rice said being on the same page includes the offensive line and running backs having the same expectation of running tracks (the exact course and pace of the run), location of the landing point (an opening where a cut is made) and other “little things.”
The Ravens have already made changes on the line, replacing coach John Matsko by promoting Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller and hiring new Offensive Line Assistant Todd Washington.
“We’ve got great guys, but faced a lot of adversity with our offensive line,” Rice said. “We faced different situations, a lot of in-and-outs, guys getting put in different positions. We made the best of what we had.”
Rice spoke about the loss of 6-foot-9, 340-pound tackle Jared Gaither for the entire season due to a back injury.
“Mike [Oher] handled his business, but when you lose a guy like Jared Gaither, who’s born to play tackle, it’s hard,” Rice said. “It’s hard [for defenders] to circle him.”
Personally, Rice didn’t see the same success of his 2009 Pro Bowl season, when he averaged 5.3 yards per carry and logged 2,041 total yards.
This past year, he averaged 4.0 yards per rush and 1,776 total yards. The third-year back ran the ball 53 more times, but notched 119 fewer yards.
“You’ve still got a guy that rushed for 1,200 yards and has room to get better,” Rice said. “I had the extra target on my back and I managed it well. There were certain parts in the run game where I definitely wasn’t trying to force the issue.”
Rice, who has already returned to Owings Mills to begin training for next season, said he wants to continue trying to be a more complete back.
“I want to be better in pass protection,” Rice said. “I was facing some things this year where I was trying to go low on guys and they were trying to jump over me. I’m going to work on different techniques.”