Expect more from Pierce this season

Expect more from Pierce this season
February 19, 2013, 9:00 am
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With the Ravens winning the second Super Bowl in franchise history earlier this month, it seems odd to suggest areas they have many areas to improve for 2013. They got hot at the right time -- much like the New York Giants before them when they won the championship the year before -- but still have glaring weaknesses that must be fixed in order to have a chance at making the playoffs again. Repeating? That’s another issue. Second part of series:

Problem No. 2: Bernard Pierce gets more touches.

Now that Jim Caldwell will have a full season as offensive coordinator, he can start on the right foot to help Ray Rice have a better season.

Rice’s statistics were down across the board – 221 less yards rushing and 226 less receiving -- in part because of how he was used and how the rookie Pierce was not.

The goal was to preserve Rice, who had led all players in the NFL with yards from scrimmage in 2011 with more than 2,000, for the second half of the season. The Ravens could've accomplished that simply by using Pierce more early.

A fierce and physical runner, Pierce can bounce a play outside or stay between the tackles for tough yardage.

For the first 14 weeks under then-play-caller Cam Cameron, Pierce only carried double-digits once, 10 times in a 55-20 blowout of the Oakland Raiders. The Ravens were falling short of coach John Harbaugh’s projections when he said after a 30-point loss in Week 7 to the Houston Texans that he wanted to see Pierce incorporated in the offense more.

Enter Caldwell. Pierce had a team-high 123 yards on 14 carries in an AFC North-clinching win vs. the New York Giants in Week 16. Of the 532 yards he gained (4.9 average), 232 came in just three games with Caldwell at 5.7 per carry.

Pierce’s best postseason performance came in a 24-9 wild-card win vs. the Indianapolis Colts, getting 103 yards on just 13 carries.

A knee strain limited Pierce after that as he only had five carries in a 38-35 double-overtime win at the Denver Broncos, but he had 52 yards on nine carries in a 28-13 win vs. the New England Patriots in the AFC title game. 

Harbaugh hired Juan Castillo, who coached with him for more than a decade with the Philadelphia Eagles, to be the Ravens’ run-game coordinator. Castillo worked extensively with the offensive line and blocking schemes and figures to be a good fit, which means a renewed emphasis on running for Baltimore.