Baltimore Ravens Overdose on Backs: In a Good Way

Bleacher Report Senior Writer INovember 8, 2008

The Baltimore Ravens are overdosing on running backs: in a good way. It doesn't have to do with alcohol or drugs, don't worry. The Ravens have a three-headed monster in the backfield: running backs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee and fullback Le'Ron McClain.

Le'Ron McClain has had an excellent season at fullback—probably the best running fullback in all of football. He has 92 carries for 347 yards and has rushed for five touchdowns. Last year, McClain rushed 18 yards on eight carries. This year, he's on pace for 794 yards and 10 touchdowns!

Ray Rice hasn't been the best rookie this year, but he has been a nice surprise. We drafted Rice this year, and Ozzie Newsome was criticized for drafting him, mainly because of size. But Rice is third in the team in rushing yards (339, 12 behind the leader, McGahee). He is also second on the team in receiving.

Willis McGahee is constantly injured, but fortunately, we don't look to need him at all this year. He has 100 carries for 351 yards and three touchdowns. When healthy, McGahee can be one of the best backs in the league: He proved it last year when he ran for over 1,200 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

The great thing about this is that the Ravens don't have to rely on one guy. When one guy can't find the holes, the other guy can. When one guy is hurt, the other two are not. The leading rusher on the team has been changing, which shows how versatile the Ravens are in the backfield.

Bengals, W 17-10: McClain led with 86

Browns, W 28-10: McClain led with 66

Steelers, L 20-23: McClain led with 63

Titans L 10-13: McGahee led with 64

Colts L 3-31: Rice led with 23

Dolphins W 27-13: McGahee led with 105

Raiders W 29-10: Rice led with 64

Browns W 37-27: Rice led with 154


Even though the Ravens have had just two 100-yard performances from individual running backs, they have run for 100 yards in every contest except one. That, to me, is the formula for success. As a team, they average 148.8 rushing yards per game, fourth in the NFL only trailing the Falcons, Giants, and Titans. In my opinion, the Ravens have a better backfield then all these teams.

They have quantity and quality. For now, the Ravens are playing it conservative, and it's working. Now, Ray Rice is emerging as a great backup, leading the team in rushing three of the past four games. If Rice doesn't continue to contribute, they've got McClain, who has five rushing touchdowns and has led the team in rushing three of eight times.

If McClain struggles, they've got McGahee, who had the first 100-yard rushing performance for the Ravens this year. When healthy, he's one of the best backs in the league.

When none of them show up, they can go to Joe Flacco, the rookie quarterback. Flacco has a quarterback rating of 100 his past three games and has no interceptions and four touchdowns, leading the Ravens to three consecutive victories. But realistically, do you think it will ever come to that?

If I'm the Ravens, I draft another back next year, and with Ozzie's drafting mind, he'll pick up a diamond and a hidden gem in the sixth round! And lets not forget Lorenzo Neal, who paved the way for 11 1,000-yard rushers and was released this offseason by San Diego and quickly acquired by Baltimore. Another tremendous Ozzie move. Between Rice, McClain and McGahee, there is a total of 1,037 yards.

And fortunately for the Ravens, none of them are above 27. The Ravens are really becoming a team to be reckoned with, and tomorrow's game against Houston could loom large.