Some of you may be asking: “What has Pierce done to earn the starting running back job?”
It’s not so much as to what he has done as it is what Rice hasn’t done.
Both running backs are shells of their former selves from 2012 to now, but Pierce gets a little more of a pass considering he is Rice’s backup technically. I still say that the 23-year-old could start on several other NFL teams, but that’s not the point right now. We all know that the most popular guy in the room whenever the top guy is struggling is almost always their backup or replacement, but I think Pierce has a legitimate argument for the starting spot.
We’ve heard the Ravens talk about how they are changing their schemes in order to try and make this offense work, given the offensive line’s struggles with run game coordinator Juan Castillo‘s zone-blocking schemes. Yet, since the bye week two weeks ago, virtually nothing has changed as far as running the football goes. Pierce nor Rice have shown anything positive in terms of improving the offensive ground game.
However, if the Ravens are going to roll with the horses they have up front, they should make the move to Pierce because he fits their scheme more than Rice. Pierce is a north-south runner who sees the hole and attacks it once it’s opened. While there haven’t been many holes for Baltimore’s running game thus far in 2013, Pierce gives the Ravens a better shot because he doesn’t dance as much in the backfield as Rice does. Like Rice, his yards-per-carry is horrific at 2.8, and considering he was a 4.9 guy last season you would have to wonder what exactly he is doing differently as well.
Baltimore has become so predictable that neither running back can offer any significant value this year because they have no play-action passing attack and can’t convert third downs. Despite all of that, it is clear that Rice’s confidence is hurting at this point, and while some may say the right move is to stick with the guy that got you there, sometimes change is good.
I think even Ray Rice would tell you that he doesn’t know what is happening this season. He is visibly frustrated this season, neither he nor the Ravens have any answers. If I’m Ravens head coach John Harbaugh I’m moving to Pierce going forward to light a fire under Rice and allow him to figure some things out. When both guys are unsuccessful is it right to go to the one who has stunk less? Maybe not, but if you’re trying to win football games, there’s no sense in trotting out Rice 15-20 times a game when even he can’t figure out his struggles on the field.