NEW YORK – Ray Rice has something to prove next season, as do the Ravens. So when asked if he thought the Ravens would be Super Bowl contenders again in 2014, Rice did not hesitate.
“I’m guaranteeing that we’ll be back,” Rice said Wednesday night at an appearance for Steiner Sports at Pace University. “We don’t have complacent guys. None of us are happy with what happened (last year). None of us. But we’re going to add pieces. And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what we’ve added in coaching. That’s going to help put it all together.”
New Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is known for his affinity for running the football. Seven different running backs have enjoyed 1,000-yard seasons having Kubiak as either their offensive coordinator or head coach. That gives Rice the opportunity to silence critics after his disappointing 2013 season – 660 yards, and just 3.1 yards per carry. Rice has already vowed to return in 2014 in the best shape of his career, and the offseason will give the hip injury he suffered in 2013 time to heal. It was also give the Ravens time to address their offensive line issues, and to implement Kubiak's zone-blocking system.
Rice is still the Ravens' go-to back, especially with Bernard Pierce also coming off a disappointing season, and recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Rice did not get into specifics about his offseason regimen, and how it may change. But he views 2014 as a chance for everyone to make a fresh start.
“I feel like I’ve we’ve written the chapter on last year,” Rice said. “I’m gearing toward next year. I’m taking time with my family but I’m doing what I’ve got to do.
“As for being up here this week, it’s a lot different situation then the Super Bowl last year, when we were in it. But it should be a great game from a fan’s perspective. To see a guy like Peyton Manning make it with a second team, deal with his surgery, and still be at the top of his game is special. On the other side, to see Marshawn Lynch run the way he runs, that’s special to me too. It should be a battle.’’
Rice said being around Super Bowl week was a reminder of how difficult it was to get there. After five straight playoff seasons, and winning the Super Bowl last year, the Ravens fell to 8-8, losing their last two games to miss the playoffs.
That does not sit well with Rice, who is not sticking around New York for the game. While the Broncos and Seahawks are thinking about the Super Bowl, Rice is thinking about what it will take for the Ravens to get back.
“Visiting Super Bowl week is OK,” Rice said. “But I’d rather be in it.”