Ravens Offseason Report: Strengthening the O-Line, A Definite Need

| March 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

They call them the “big uglies” and refer to where they reside as the “trenches.” Offensive line isn’t a sexy position, but it is one of the most important on the field and was an area of concern for the Ravens in 2011. At times, like in week one against the Steelers, the Ravens offensive line looked absolutely dominate. At other times, they were the biggest liability on the field.

Last offseason the Ravens invested a lot of money locking up their right guard position when they inked Marshall “Yada Yada” Yanda to a long-term deal. Yanda played hurt for the majority of the season, but most people would he say he was the most consistent offensive lineman and lived up the money.  Yanda may be locked up, but the Ravens are likely to lose their starting center to retirement and their Pro Bowl left guard to free agency. Lack of depth was a major problem last season and is an issue that needs to be addressed through free agency or the draft.

Much of Joe Flacco’s struggles, in my opinion, were attributed to lack of protection that would often lead to sacks or other miscues. When the offensive line played well, Flacco played well and in turn the offense was effective. When they didn’t, the Ravens struggled. It’s a pretty simple formula and it was amazing that Ravens came up two plays short of the Super Bowl given their offensive line struggles.

The AFC North fielded four of the top 10 defenses in the NFL, which means the Ravens had to face a top 10 defense in six games during the regular season. While the Steelers defense is aging, they can still get to the quarterback and have a good young pass rusher in Cameron Heyward. The Bengals had one of the best and youngest defenses in football and should be a force to be reckoned with for years. The Browns have two first round picks and will likely address pass rush in the early rounds of the draft.  Joe Flacco has never missed a game in his career, but if the opposing defenses keep getting clean hits on him he may miss his first ever.

I know offensive line is important and that the Ravens will address it in the draft or free agency or both.  It is almost certain that Ben Grubbs will leave and it is likely Matt Birk would retire. Some also question if the Ravens believe Andre Gurode can play effectively for 16 games at either position. There are a lot of prognosticators predicting that the Ravens are going to draft Center Peter Konz from Wisconsin in the first round. This certainly would not be a sexy pick, but one that could be good years down the road.

I do think that offensive line is important, but also think that the Ravens do not need to address it in the first round.  If they believed they had issues at the tackle positions (which I believe they do) then I certainly would think this is the number one priority. However, I do not believe interior lineman are worth a first round pick – especially if Konz is gone. There will likely be some veterans out there that the Ravens can sign and that might be the best option.  The Ravens showed they can get to an AFC Championship with a decent offensive line and I believe that if they add more weapons to the offense they can mix up the play calling which will help Flacco and the O-Line.

The Ravens offensive line is going to look to a lot different in 2012 and hopefully, for their sake and Joe Flacco’s sake, they can be more consistent. If they can, expect the Ravens to be holding up the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.

 

About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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