In a recent interview former Eagles and Redskin’s Quarterback Donovan McNabb said that “Ray Rice to me, [he] fumbled the football entirely way too much last year,” He continued with, “Ray Rice we know is a Pro Bowler and can make big plays for you, but he has a tendency of fumbling the ball entirely too much. So expect Bernard Pierce to really step up and be that guy.” Is this true? Does Ray Rice fumble enough for it to be a complete detriment to the team? I believe that Bernard Pierce is going to get his carries next year. Some people think, myself included, that it is going to take away from Ray Rice’s carries, thus hurting his production.
First let’s take a look at Donovan’s claim that Rice fumbles too much:
Looking at all the regular season games last season Ray Rice fumbled the ball a total of 1 time. That was week 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The wonderful thing about this fumble too was that it was recovered by the Ravens and did not result in a loss of possession or worse, points for the other team. This is a game the Ravens would go on to win 13-10. The ball bounced safely out of bounds and occurred with about a minute left in the first quarter. The Ravens would continue this drive in the second quarter and end with a missed field goal by Justin Tucker after Joe Flacco fumbled the ball . What I like most about this drive was that the very next play Ray Rice caught a 31-yard pass from Joe Flacco. It shows that he doesnt let mistakes rattle him. He fumbled. Most guys would let that bother them in games. Rice shrugged it off and continued on. That is the kind of player we’re going to get as long as he is wearing a Ravens uniform.
The post season was a bit different. Ray Rice lost hold of the ball 3 times during the postseason. He lost the ball twice while the Raven’s faced the colts. Though thanks to the Raven’s stellar defense during that game those two fumbles did not result in any points. The other time Rice fumbled was in the Super Bowl against the 49ers in the 3rd quarter on the Raven’s own 24-yard line. This was the only fumble that Rice had all season that lead to points for the other team. It led to a field goal but ultimately did not hurt the Raven’s too bad because as fate would have it, the Ravens won that game too.
In Ray Rice’s whole career he has had sure hands when carrying the ball. Going back to 2008, Rice’s rookie season, Rice has put the ball on the ground a total of 7 times. 6 of those have resulted in a turnover. Is that too much? Since 2008 Adrian Peterson has lost the ball 22 times. AP has ran the ball more than rice in that time frame, but Rice has caught more passes out of the backfield than AP. The numbers are too close to really make any difference. AP is arguably the best running back in the whole NFL, but no one talks about how much he fumbles. Chris Johnson came into the league at the same time as Rice and has, for the majority of that time, been considered the better running back. Sure he had over 2000 rushing yards in 2009 but he’s also had 15 fumbles over that span to Ray Rice’s 7. Arian Foster in the 3 years that he’s been relevant in the league has coughed the ball up 12 times during the time span that he has been getting the majority of the carries for the Texans. Does that mean that these guys are bad running backs? You ask any NFL fan and they will tell you no. They contribute for their team and you can overlook the fumbles. Ray Rice fumbled once last year during the regular season, 3 times during the post season. People took notice of the post season fumbles because all of those games were on a national stage. Only one of those fumbles came back to hurt the Ravens….kind of. In my opinion Ray Rice does not have a fumbling problem. He had a bad stretch in the post season that wasnt really all that bad. If Pierce is going to be taking carries away from Rice that means that Rice will have less opportunities to fumble the ball. By that logic Ray Rice’s fumble rate should either stay the same or decrease. If it decreases that means he’ll fumble less than one time next season. If it stays the same that means he will fumble once next season. Either way I think the Ravens will manage.