With a couple of moves on the offensive line and some new personnel at the skill positions, the Ravens' offense was expected to be a work in progress for at least half of the season.
But after four games, it's evident that the Ravens have to tailor the offense around running back Ray Rice. In every game, he should touch the ball between 25 and 35 times, regardless of whether the Ravens want to run or pass.
In the past two or three years, the Ravens have moved away from being a running team and the idea was to build a passing offense around the arm of quarterback Joe Flacco. But four games into his fourth season, Flacco doesn't have the consistency to carry an offense, even though the Ravens have speedy receivers like Torrey Smith and Lee Evans.
We're all also still puzzled about some of the play-calling and decision-making from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and that probably won't change either. The best solution is to build the offense around Rice.
He is the best playmaker on the offense. Even if Flacco is having a poor passing day, Rice can turn some of those high-percentage swing passes into big gainers. Rice can play outside as a receiver, or operate from the slot. Out of the backfield, there are few linebackers that can run with him. Even lining up as a receiver causes a lot of problems for defenses.
Because of his height, there always seems to be questions about his durability, but Rice is one of the toughest players on the roster. Pound for pound, he is one of the Ravens' strongest players, and he actually punishes quite a few defenders on the tail end of runs because of his low center of gravity (ask Jets linebacker Bart Scott).
When it comes to balance, Rice is simply in a class of his own.
At this time, the Ravens are in this "attack" fantasy mode. I have no problems with taking some shots down field, but neither the Ravens' passing game or running game are consistent yet. The offensive line still struggles at times and Flacco is inconsistent. Anquan Boldin is solid as a No. 1 receiver, but he's not a big play-maker, and Evans' availability is questionable because of the ankle sprain.
It all comes back to Rice. He's the Ravens' most consistent performer and top home-run hitter.