Ravens’ offensive line struggles are a huge concern


Oct 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Will Allen (20) and defensive end Stephon Tuitt (91) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens had a lot going for them in 2014, but the biggest catalyst for their success was undoubtedly the stellar play of their offensive line.  Their five big guys up front formed one of the very best lines in the NFL, both as run blockers and in pass protection.

Depending on whose ratings you looked at, the o-line was at worst a top 5 unit, and at best number one among all 32 NFL teams.  It led to Joe Flacco’s best statistical season to date as well as the breakout performance of running back Justin Forsett.

Now that we’re four games into the 2015 NFL season, things have taken a horrendous turn for the worst. Despite returning all five starters from that stellar 2014 group, the Ravens’ offensive line has suddenly become one of the worst in the league.

So what happened?  First, zone blocking master Gary Kubiak departed to become the new head coach of the Denver Broncos.  Starting left tackle Eugene Monroe has played only one series this season after suffering a concussion on the first drive against the Broncos in week 1.

After finishing as the 6th best guard in the NFL last season, Kelechi Osemele’s play has fallen off so much that he ranks as only the 56th best this season.  Center Jeremy Zuttah currently ranks as the 15th best center in the NFL, but has played only one good game out of four (week 2 vs. Oakland).

Then there’s right tackle Rick Wagner, who graded out as the best at his position in 2014 before going down with a foot injury.  He is allegedly 100% healthy now, but is amazingly ranked as the worst right tackle in the entire NFL at the moment.

The long bright spot on the Ravens’ offensive line this season is right guard Marshal Yanda, who was the best guard in the NFL both last season and through four games this season.  Despite being the oldest member of the group, Yanda continues to dominate.

The concerns here are real.  Joe Flacco has been pressured on 33.1% of his snaps so far, which has led to 3 of his 5 interceptions and a mere 50% completion percentage.  That’s a steep dive from his 64.2% completion percentage when not under pressure.

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Meanwhile, the Ravens running game has gone south in a big way as well.  The Ravens have the 19th ranked rushing attack through 4 games, averaging a paltry 3.9 yards per carry.  Last year they finished 8th and averaged a respectable 4.5 yards per carry.

Despite Justin Forsett’s 150 yard outburst against the Steelers in week 4, we can’t give the offensive line much credit.  Forsett didn’t exactly have much room to run (except for his 33 yard run sprung on the left side) and had to make things happen on his own accord.

The Ravens are slowly improving their offensive line play, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Perhaps injuries are lingering that we don’t know about, or maybe this team hasn’t fully adapted to the changes in play calling that have taken place.  Either way, it’s arguably their biggest concern moving forward.

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