Ray Rice was even worse than you thought in 2013

1/23/14 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

As I am sure most NFL fans are aware of, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had an absolutely horrendous season in 2013. After failing to dip below 1,100 rushing yards or 4.0 yards per carry from 2009-12, Rice posted awful marks of 660 yards on just 3.1 per carry this season. In addition, he also posted his lowest marks since his rookie year in touchdowns (4), receptions (58, which actually isn't a bad number), receiving yards (321), and yards per reception (5.5, which was his worst mark ever).

A lot of you have probably seen these numbers, but the numbers al
Dec 22, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) gains two yards against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sportsone don't tell the full story of Rice's abysmal campaign. There are a few other factors that make Rice look even more inept.

First of all, Rice ran for 131 yards against the Chicago Bears. While that does not look like a bad statistic on its own, consider it compared to his season numbers. The Bears fielded a historically bad run defense in 2013, allowing a league-worst 2,583 rushing yards on a horrific (and also league-worst) 5.3 yards per carry. Rice's 131 yards against the Bears account for a whopping 19.8% of his rushing yards on the season. Seeing as how that performance accounted for just 6.7% of the games he played in 2013, Rice was stunningly awful in his other 14 contests (he missed one game with an injury).

Rice essentially racked up one-fifth of his rushing yards against the Bears, which means that in games that weren't played against historically bad defenses, Rice averaged 37.8 rushing yards. I don't know what to say about that aside from the fact that it's awful - just awful.

It is worth noting that the Ravens boasted one of the worst run blocking units in the league this season, so Rice's struggles may not be entirely attributed to him playing poorly - or can they? The league's best runners don't simply blow through wide open holes and find pay dirt, they have fight off defenders and shed would-be tacklers to get positive yards.

Rice, however, broke just nine tackles on 214 rushing attempts. That means that Rice broke a tackles just 4.2% of the time. As some points of reference, Marshawn Lynch's broken tackle rate was 24.9%, while plodding, middle-of-the-road runner Bilal Powell's mark was 14.2%.

Pro Football Focus came up with a system to place an "elusiveness rating" on running backs. The system takes into account broken tackles, yards after contact, and total touches. Among the 32 running backs who played at least 50% of their team's offensive snaps, Rice ranked dead last in elusiveness rating by a huge margin. Rice's rating was 7.3, while 31st-ranked runner Chris Johnson was at 15.5. Adrian Peterson led the league with 64.6.

Everyone knew that Rice was having a down year, but a deeper look into the statistics reveals just how awful he really was. Perhaps Rice's 1,527 touches over his first five NFL seasons are beginning to catch up to the 27-year-old, or maybe he simply needs holes to create a head of steam in order to break tackles. It could also be that the weight Rice added last offseason had the opposite effect of what he had hoped. As owner Steve Bisciotti recently said, "I think he learned that adding 10 pounds to his frame made him less elusive, not more powerful."

Rice had promised to play at a lighter weight in 2014, so with some improvements on the offensive line, he should be a solid bounce back candidate. Due a very reasonable $4 million salary next year, Rice is highly unlikely to be a cap casualty on the heels of his atrocious season.
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