No one around town wants to say it.
A lot of people have been thinking it, but no one wants to actually come out and write it, tweet it or say it.
But, there’s no sense in burying the story any longer.
It’s simple, really.
If Ray Rice ISN’T hurt — and he continues to pledge to anyone who will listen that he isn’t — then his days as a contributor in the NFL are over.
I have no idea how that happened, but it apparently has, right before our very eyes over the last nine games.
Anyone who has followed the NFL knows this is precisely how it happens. A running back just shows up one day and it’s not there anymore. There appears to be no explanation for it. He ran the ball like a demon last year. This year, his legs don’t work. How? Why? Who knows…it just happens that way with running backs for some reason.
It would appear, unless Rice is hiding a lingering issue, that he’s facing the same sort of abrupt end to his useful days in Baltimore and, perhaps, the league as a whole.
Yes, yes, yes, the Ravens offensive line is horrible. That’s a certainty. Bernard Pierce isn’t exactly lighting it up either, as anyone who has watched the games will remind me.
But, even when he gets some breathing room or catches a ball in the open field, Rice just doesn’t have it. He can’t make tacklers miss with those elusive jukes and dodgy moves we saw from him a few years ago. Did you see Giovani Bernard run the ball yesterday for the Bengals? That’s precisely what Ray Rice looked like in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He hit the hole, quickly, got to the second level, made linebackers miss, and was good for 100 yards of per-game offense with his eyes closed.
I hope I’m wrong, because Rice has been an outstanding contributor to the Ravens both on and off the field. Few players in purple have embraced the community like he has and his “anti-bullying” efforts with the Baltimore school system is a much-needed message to send from one of Baltimore’s premier athletes.
But…if you can’t run the ball and help the team’s offense, you’re no longer valuable.
Everyone’s been thinking it…
Yesterday’s performance against the Bengals was the moment I went from thinking it to saying it.
Unless he’s hurt, Ray Rice looks finished.
I hope I’m wrong.