- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the team isn't going to make a change at starting running back. The readers of the Ravens team page at ESPN.com think that's a mistake.
Rice is averaging 36.1 yards rushing, which ranks 38th in the NFL. Pierce has struggled as well, averaging 29 yards per game. But he did lead the Ravens in rushing Sunday with 31 yards despite 10 fewer carries than Rice.
Here are some selected comments from readers:
Joe, from Universal City, Texas: Here's the problem -- If you've got an offensive line that can't pass or run block, it wouldn't matter if you have Barry Sanders. The Ravens offensive line has went from a strength to a weakness. Rice, Pierce, it really doesn't matter. Teams will put eight in the box and/or blitz until the Ravens make them pay. So far, they've been unsuccessful for the most part in doing so.
Jovan, from Tacoma, Wash.: I honestly believe Bernard Pierce is a more explosive running back, ever since his rookie debut last season. He'd break off longer gains than Ray at times. Ray Rice, I have love and respect for, but he's not trucking like he used to and goes down after one hit. It's like he's relying too much on our struggling line rather than just being the cannonball he was known to be in the past and make things happen.
Charles, from Philadelphia: Pierce should be given a chance to carry the load, for at least one game. If he doesn't deliver with increased touches, it will solidify the thought that our problems are solely related to offensive line play.
Victor, from Fort Hood, Texas: I thought Pierce was a better running back last year and feel the same this year. I feel that the we (The Ravens) are trying a formula that has worked with other teams, that is the two-back threat. The problem is we are not successful. I feel that we don't use Ray Rice for his strength, which is catching out of the backfield. This way we could play both without a tight end since they lack production anyway and keep the defense guessing. Then switch it up with the quick and hard running of Pierce. I'm not a coach, though. Just a loyal and frustrated fan.
Christian, from Pulaski, N.Y.: Easy as it would be to say "Rice is done" or "Rice is hurt, that's the problem," it's just not his fault at this point. I voted for Pierce to take the carries only because Rice is obviously hurt somehow; Rice is not the problem. The offensive line, to perpetuate a pun, has been offensive. There have been several plays where Rice has obviously been given a hole assignment to run through and gets the ball only to find defenders literally hitting him. Rice has not set the world on fire, but he's better than this. Left guard A.Q. Shipley and center Gino Gradkowski just aren't any good, and right guard Marshal Yanda must be hurt fairly badly because he looks nothing like he has for the last three years.