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Late For Work 7/16: Ray Rice Hasn’t Lost Hope On New Deal

Run-first offense hurts Flacco’s numbers, Williams more efficient pass blocker than Grubbs

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, July 16th, 2012 at 9:15 am | Categories: 2012 Offseason, Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Rice Hasn’t Lost Hope On New Deal

The predications have been ominous.

With the deadline for running back Ray Rice and the Ravens to strike a long-term deal only hours away, rumors are that the two sides are at a stalemate and an agreement doesn’t look likely. CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora only gave it a 25-percent chance of getting done.

But the two-time Pro Bowler isn’t losing hope.

“I’ll always keep it real for you, but I’m always optimistic,” Rice told the Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson Saturday at his anti-bullying teen suicide outreach event. “God has put me in a position where not too many people can say they’ve been. I never played for the dollars and all of that other stuff.

“My rookie contract, quite frankly, you just signed it and go play football. So, this is a little bit different of an experience for me. Needless to say, what puts a smile on my face is that no matter the money I made, I still get to go out here and kids get to see me and smile.”

Rice has until 4 p.m. today to strike a deal or he’ll have to play the season under the $7.7 million franchise tag.

Rice declined to elaborate on the negotiation process, reminding reporters that “I’m actually here for the bullying thing.” But he was still able to inject a little humor into the event, playfully asking attendees to call Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome and “tell him to pay me.”

Despite the quiet nature of the talks thus far, the five-year veteran does have a couple of reasons to believe something could still get worked out.

All he has to do is look back one year to when the Ravens franchised defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Things were hushed in Baltimore between the team and Ngata, but then hours before the deadline, the atmosphere suddenly flipped and the two sides came to an agreement.

Additionally, if the Chicago Bears and Matt Forte, another marquee running back facing the tag deadline, can reach a deal, it could help push things along between Rice and the Ravens. NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi reported over the weekend that Forte and the Bears are “extremely close.”

“Any deal for Forte should further clarify the parameters of any deal for Rice,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s Bo Smolka.

Simms: Defense, Run-First Offense Hurts Flacco’s Numbers

Many analysts have used Joe Flacco’s dip in stats last year as a reason to say he took an overall step back as quarterback.

His QB rating and passing yardage were the lowest they’ve been since his rookie season, according to Wilson, and his completion percentage was the lowest of his four-year career.

But Super Bowl XXI’s MVP Phil Simms, who also called the Ravens-Pats AFC championship game for CBS, says too much emphasis is put on Flacco’s numbers, which are more of a reflection of inserting new receiving weapons (Torrey Smith, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta) last year and a defense/run-first mentality.

“It’s really amazing. Put Joe Flacco on a football team where it’s all about the quarterback and the offense and he will put up staggering numbers,” Simms told Wilson.

“He plays for a coach that’s not worried about the glorification of his quarterback. Joe Flacco is a big part of them winning, but personal success and glory might elude him. He may only get it through victories. Even then, he might not get the credit that he deserves. I don’t think he’s good, I think he’s awesome. I know I’m right. I don’t need your stamp of approval.”

Williams A More Efficient Pass Blocker Than Grubbs

Replacing a Pro Bowl guard like Ben Grubbs has not been easy.

But perhaps newly signed veteran Bobbie Williams, who is the favorite to step in for Grubbs after he left via free agency, is better equipped than once previously thought.

Williams has been a more “efficient” pass blocker than Grubbs over the last three years, according to Pro Football Focus’ Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) signature stat, which looks at both total pressure numbers and how many snaps an offensive player spent in pass protection.

Williams has the fourth-best PBE of 98.02, while Grubbs came in at No. 14 with a PBE of 97.27.

That said, Khaled Elsayed cautioned not to read too much into PBE.

“As ever, we’ll remind you all that while the PBE stat measures efficiency, it doesn’t measure the best pass protectors in any given season,” he wrote. “For a better representation of that you need to get your hands on PFF Premium, because our grading goes further than any stat can; accounting for how quickly the pressure has come, among other things.

“It doesn’t mean the PBE doesn’t have its place, but it needs to be used as a tool and not an ultimate explanation.”

Theismann Predicts A Ravens Super Bowl

Despite all the uncertainly looming over Ravens right now – the Rice/Flacco contract negotiations, Ed Reeds’ flirtations with holding out and Terrell Suggs’ Achilles tendon injury – former Washington Redskins and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann believes the Ravens will make it to the Super Bowl.

“You can be the first to write it: I believe the Ravens will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl,” Theismann told Wilson. He then reminded people that he correctly predicted the Ravens would defeat the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV: “I did this in 2000, you know?”

The Ravens were one stripped touchdown catch away from advancing to the Super Bowl last year. It would be a major coup to return to the AFC championship again, but Theissman sees the right personnel on the roster to get the job done.

“I like the Ravens,” Theismann said. “They’re getting better with Torrey Smith. Joe Flacco has played in a tough division for four seasons and is used to facing great defenses like the Pittsburgh Steelers twice a year.

“They’ve put together a darn good offensive line that got old and got better again. They’ve got one of the best running backs in football in Ray Rice. They’ve got a wide receiving corps that can threaten down the field. With a defense like the Ravens, they’ll make somebody pay the price.”

Quick Hits

  • Rice’s leading blocker tweeted this after Drew Brees got his long-term deal … @vleach44: Now I’m waiting for @RayRice27 to get his money he deserves #cutthecheck [Twitter]
  • Nobody would blame Rice if he used this time to concentrate on himself, considering how today’s deadline could majorly affect his professional career. But he is still taking the time to help bully victims. Darin Gantt is impressed … “Good for Rice for being willing to take up the cause, and spending his time before his season starts trying to make a difference.” [ProFootballTalk.com]
  • Former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis went down a similar road in 2006 that Rice is traveling now when Lewis was trying to get a long-term deal with the Ravens. Lewis called the process “frustrating” and even had to test free agency before signing with Baltimore again. But he said that Newsome is an “excellent” general manager and wouldn’t be surprised if he let Rice play under the tag this year. “I think when you’re going to invest a lot of money into a running back, you want to see if he’s working his way up,” Lewis said. “How many hits has he taken? How many carries has he had?” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Ed Reed is wrong – holdouts rarely work, are bad for players and teams, wrote Ashley Fox. But Mike Florio strongly disagrees, saying, “[I]n the end, if he knows that his team needs him enough to eventually bend, it could be the smartest, shrewdest break he ever makes for himself.” [ESPN/PFT.com]
  • The ranking of the AFC North top 25 players continues. Cornerback Lardarius Webb comes in at No. 19 and Flacco is ranked No. 16. [ESPN]
  • There’s not much for Flacco to gauge from Brees’ new deal. [The Baltimore Sun]

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