Sep 16, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk (77) and tackle Ramon Harewood (70) look to block during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Ravens 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Ramon Harewood Needs to Start

The Ravens offensive line is a disaster. They played decently well in the first few weeks, but in two of the past three games they have been horrid.

Let me start with the good performance. They held up very well in Dallas against probably the best pure pass rusher in the NFL in Demarcus Ware. They limited the Cowboys to just a few pressures and kept Flacco clean enough to move the ball and score points when it mattered and come away with a win. Bobbie Williams looked like he still had some gas left in the tank and Michael Oher looked like a legitimate first round tackle for the first time since Arizona last year.

Now that I have said something nice, lets say something not so nice. Against the Texans the Ravens OL put up the worst performance I can remember from a Ravens OL group. I have seen worse individual games, but never one where the entire group was so handily overmatched. They only gave up four sacks, but Flacco threw passes away an additional 8 times within 2.1 seconds of the snap to avoid a sack. They surrendered 34 pressures, batted balls or Sacks on 43 pass attempts. That means Flacco only had a clean pocket on 9 of 43 throws, that is one of the worst pressure lines I have ever read, and it showed in the game. Flacco threw 2 INTs, but both passes were tipped at the line, ask any QB and they will tell you that after a ball is tipped all bets are off.

One part of the problem, in my estimation, is the replacement of Ramon Harewood with Bobbie Williams. Harewood went from starter to inactive in the blink of an eye despite being arguably the Ravens best offensive lineman in the first 4 games of the year. Harewood had the quickness that Williams lacks at his age. On 2 of the Ravens four sacks, a Texans pass rusher went right by Williams without Williams even touching him. Both of these were on twist rushes, twists require a lineman to reset, change direction and engage the rusher. Williams knew what he was supposed to do but couldn’t get there in time and the result was a free rusher up the center of the pocket. That type of rush is pretty much an instant play killer no matter what (with the exception of some screens). Williams is probably a more complete player than Harewood, but Harewood has the quickness to block on these plays.

I hate to call out any player. It is my least favorite form of journalism. This is a very rare case where I view the season as being in legitimate danger. The Steelers are gaining ground in the division; they twist rush more than any team in the league. If Williams is unable to block it, the Ravens will struggle to beat Pittsburgh. Bottom line is, if the Ravens don’t, at minimum, split with the Steelers, they will not win the division. If they don’t win the division, they will have to play their first playoff game on the road, they are not a good road team. The Ravens Super Bowl hopes rest on being able to win the division. Their division hopes, right now, rest on the offensive line. The offensive line is only as good as its weakest link, right now that link is Bobbie Williams.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Bobbie Williams Ramon Harewood

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