- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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But you can't question Rice's confidence.
Last month, Rice vowed to come back in the best shape of his career. This week, Rice didn't hesitate when asked if the Ravens would be Super Bowl contenders again in 2014.
“I’m guaranteeing that we’ll be back,” Rice said during Super Bowl week in New York, via Comcast SportsNet. “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.”
In order for the Ravens to go from an 8-8 team back to a Super Bowl one, they're going to need Rice to rebound as well. He averaged a career-worst 3.1 yards per carry, and he gained fewer rushing yards than Bilal Powell, Rashard Mendenhall and two Cincinnati Bengals running backs.
When the Ravens won the Super Bowl last season, they had the No. 11 rushing attack in the NFL. The two teams vying for the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday -- the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks -- both rank in the top half of the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. This indicates teams still need to run the ball even in this pass-happy age of the NFL.
The Ravens will be committed to the ground game in 2014, given the track record of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. In his 19 seasons as an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator, Kubiak's offenses ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards 13 times and a running back gained 1,000 yards rushing 14 times.
“I have tremendous expectations for them,” Kubiak said about the Ravens' running backs.
When it comes to expectations, it's tough to trump Rice these days.