Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ravens' RB by committee running on empty?

The running back by committee has been a big topic around town as it relates to the Ravens. Le’Ron McClain continues to get the tough yards and Ray Rice is a developing change of pace back. Yet the third committee member, Willis McGahee is struggling mightily and there are no signs that he will snap out of his funk any time this year.

Many have pointed to his conditioning and to his injuries as the culprits in a disappointing season for McGahee, one that most observers felt could be a breakout season for the ’07 Pro Bowler given Cam Cameron’s style and utilization of a featured back. It could be however, that McGahee’s failures are the result of more than just his physical deficiencies.

Cameron’s offense isn’t a one night study. You can’t do an all-nighter and cram his playbook. Even those who have practiced faithfully from OTA’s right on through to today, will tell you that the system and the terminology take time to master. McGahee has been well behind the curve and that leads to hesitation, too much thinking and sluggish response time once the ball is snapped.

Dialing back to the Ravens’ second offensive play of the game against the Redskins, there was an unusually high amount of pre-snap conversation between McGahee and FB Lorenzo Neal (which in my opinion tipped the play). The succeeding McGahee run resulted in no gain. Later on he and Joe Flacco were out of synch on a couple other occasions.

If McGahee’s season were compared to a college semester, he would have to ace his next test and his final in order to have a shot at passing. I’m not holding my breath.

But make no mistake about it, the Ravens will need McGahee. During McClain’s busiest season as a runner while a member of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, he carried the ball 17 times. In fact, he carried it only 37 times during his entire collegiate career. This season already, McClain has carried the rock 162 times.

Ray Rice carried the football 380 times during his final season at Rutgers and he was the quintessential workhorse during the dog days of August at McDaniel College. Remember the rookie wall folks. If it hasn’t hit Rice yet, it is probably about to.


Ernest Byner said...

The Ravens may have erred not promoting Marcus Mason to the 53 man roster. He ran well for the Skins in the preseason and later signed with the Ravens practice squad. The Jets signed him to their 53 man roster.

They could use the guy now. If McGahee remains injured and McClain and Rice run out of gas, Flacco doesn't have the weapons on the outside to carry the Ravens far.

Anonymous said...

if mason were so good, the jets would not have cut him today.....

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, the addition of Jalen Parmele will help out a lot. From everything I've read, he is exactly the type of player the Ravens could use in our system. While he doesn't possess pure breakaway speed, and while he appears to need improvement on his patch catching skills, he almost always gets positive yards, is more than capable of breaking tackles, is basically a tough north/south runner who hits the holes and has good vision, and seems to be able to hold onto the ball.

As far as what the heck is going on with Marcus Mason, I have NO IDEA. To me, he looked like the real deal in the preseason, but for some/whatever reason, he didn't catch on with the Ravens or the Jets. (It makes me wonder what the Broncos are thinking, since they're down to their 5th string RB.)