Where have Ray Rice's carries gone?

We can talk about the Ravens' offensive deficiencies against the Jaguars until we're blue in the face. And over the next handful of days, we'll likely do so.

But for now, let's try and find some solutions to the problem. Why are the Ravens so inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball? How can they move the ball more effectively and get themselves into a rhythm when things don't seem to be clicking?

Terrell Suggs presented his own solution after the loss last night: Get Ray Rice more involved.

"I don't really know what the game plan was, but when I have a Pro Bowl running back, and I see he's not getting his touches, I'm gonna feel some type of way about it," Suggs told reporters in Jacksonville after the game. "He's a good guy. He wants the ball, and I think we should feed him. Ray Rice, he's a phenomenal player, and you've got to use your phenomenal players. ... We've got guys on this team that can do some great things. We've got to use those guys. It's that simple."

Boy, what a novel concept. Give the ball to your best offensive players more frequently. I'm not sure why it takes one of the Ravens' linebackers publicly coming out with that idea before it gets implemented by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Ray_Rice-tall-dancing.jpgRemember nine months ago when the Ravens said that their top goal going into the 2011 season would be to run the ball more often and more effectively? They went out this offseason and added fullback Vonta Leach and re-signed right guard Marshal Yanda to help bring more of a punch to the running game and improve the numbers on the ground.

So why is Rice getting just eight carries on Monday night against a Jacksonville defense which ranked 19th in the league against the run, allowing 115 yards on the ground per game? Why are the Ravens calling a total of 12 running plays when the passing game was clearly incapable of getting the job done?

Yes, Rice nearly lost two fumbles last night (one was overturned by a review), but I don't care if the guy had put the ball on the ground five times against the Jaguars. When your offense is playing as poorly as the Ravens' was last night, you give the ball to your playmaker, the guy who is the heartbeat of the unit, and you let him try and make something happen.

Last season, Rice averaged 19.1 carries per game. This season, the fourth-year back is averaging 16.1 carries per game.

Last season, Rice had at least 20 carries in a game seven times. This season, he's topped the 20-carry mark just twice in six games.

Instead of leaning more heavily on the running game, as the Ravens said they would, they're handing off to Rice even more infrequently and throwing the ball at a record clip, with Joe Flacco averaging over 35 attempts per game, up nearly five passes a game from last year.

I think it might be about time to give that strategy up already. The Ravens need to quit trying to be the Green Bay Packers or the New Orleans Saints, who rely on their powerful aerial attack and ability to smoothly move down the field via the passing game to win their games.

The Ravens aren't either one of those teams. The Packers and Saints have Pro Bowl quarterbacks who perform on a consistent basis, deep, talented receiving corps loaded with playmakers and offensive lines which can actually pass protect without nearly getting their quarterbacks' heads ripped off.

More importantly, those teams don't have Ray Rice in their backfield. The Ravens do, and they need to use him.

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