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With Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice both proving to be play-makers, could the Ravens use the duo on the field at the same time to maximize their potential on offense?
All season long we have heard about the Ravens trying to use the combination of their best five offensive linemen. It seems that now that they are in the playoffs and if you lose you go home they have finally decided on who those best five are. If the priority of the team is to try and get their best players on the field at the same time could we see both Ray Rice and rookie Bernard Pierce on the field at the same time? Does the same logic apply here?
Of course both Rice and Pierce play the same position and currently Pierce is the back up to Rice so the situation is a bit different but both players posses different skill sets that could be utilized if both were in the same set. Rice is obviously more of a threat in the passing game as pierce is more your prototypical running back but heading into a contest with the Denver Broncos who host a duo of good corners perhaps lining Rice up in the slot and using Pierce as the tailback could give the Ravens an added edge that could catch teams off guard and create mismatches for the Baltimore offense.
If the Ravens really wanted to get tricky with it they could line both up in the backfield or on either side of quarterback Joe Flacco in an option type offense. This could force the opposing defense to figure out new coverage schemes as the Ravens could hand the ball to either back or use Rice as a slot receiver. They could show screens to either side and create a whole new dynamic to an offense that has been, for the most part, pretty straight forward this season.
With all the attention Rice and Pierce would garner from opposing defenders the Ravens may be able to get their wide receivers into more one on one coverages down field if the defense brings their safeties up to protect against the option offense look. Then, both backs would take the role of added blockers for Flacco.
I'm not saying that the team needs to redesign their offense around these two, of course. It's just a matter of trying to have all of your best play-makers on the field at the same time. Bernard Pierce has shown that he is a play-maker and Rice has nothing left to prove at the NFL level so having the two of them in the same offensive set from time to time may be an asset if the Ravens passing game isn't performing to the level they desire.
When Joe Flacco is on he is on and he delivers the ball with great accuracy in some very tight windows but when he is off he has the tendency to over throw the ball a bit. In these situations the perfect way to get him back on track is to find ways to complete some short passes, inside slants, running back and receiver screens and so on. The Ravens could do this with the added threat of the run with Pierce in the backfield. It could be a great way to create misdirection, something offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was great at with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts this season for that matter.
The Jim Caldwell lead offense has looked great so far and by no means am I one to tell anyone how to use their players but as a fan and someone who loves this team and all the players on it, this is just something that was brought to my attention that I think Baltimore could use as an added wrinkle if they needed to from time to time. Using Rice in the passing game has proven to create some great mismatches in the past. Heck, even if just to keep the defense guessing and try to dissuade the pass rush from time to time if it is getting to be too much for our best five linemen to handle...