Many people are going to look at Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns and wonder the same thing that I am wondering. What is going on with the ground game in Baltimore? Ray Rice put it out there this week that he has his burst back. Well, did he leave it in the locker room?
I assure you that he is not completely at fault. When your quarterback is out-rushing your running backs, there is a huge problem. Last year, the Baltimore Ravens ran a man scheme when blocking. It was very simple: player would just put a hat on a hat and push. This year, the Ravens are running a more complicated zone blocking scheme that requires a lineman get to a particular spot on the field to block.
It is obvious this scheme isn’t working when Rice had a total of 17 yards on 11 carries.
Take Michael Oher for instance. Since he has been in the league, he has known man blocking schemes and while I cannot stand him in pass protection, I know he is an excellent run blocker. With that said, Oher seemed to have trouble getting to his blocking zone assignment on a few drives because the scheme is unfamiliar. Defensive players blew past him and into the backfield.
Even Marshall Yanda saw Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor fly into Rice for a three-yard loss in the second quarter. Normally I would place the blame solely on Yanda in a man blocking scheme, but thinking of how the zone scheme is set up, it was center Gino Gradkowski’s responsibility to ensure there was no clear lane to the running back.
Judging by the open invitation to Rice’s midsection, it was clear one of these two were to blame. A.Q. Shipley had his fair share of missed blocks as well.
Juan Castillo really needs to either make the scheme simpler or trash it all together. There should be no reason that two of the top running backs in football in Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce cannot get out of the backfield. Look for the Ravens to go back to the drawing board after such an embarrassing loss.