Baltimore Ravens: Who should start at right guard?
With Marshal Yanda out, the Baltimore Ravens have a decision to make at right guard. Who starts against the Steelers?
Out of all the injuries the Baltimore Ravens have suffered this season, no came with more of a cost than when Marshal Yanda went down.
Yanda fractured his ankle in a 24-10 Week 2 win against the Browns and was placed on injured reserve. The All-Pro guard and arguably best lineman in the NFL was the lifeblood of the Ravens offensive line. Now a line that was finally starting to gel together is without their best player and a huge gap at the right guard position.
For the time being, the Ravens are left with three options at the position: Tony Bergstrom, Matt Skura and Jermaine Eluemunor. Who starts at right guard against the Steelers? That’s still a decision left to be decided and one where there isn’t a sure answer to right now.
Let’s take a look at the options.
The three options
Bergstrom: The Ravens traded a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals to acquire Tony Bergstrom earlier this month. Bergstrom was active for the first two games of the season and was the replacement for Marshal Yanda in the second half against the Browns. All 32 of his offensive snaps came in that game. Bergstrom struggled, but the Ravens were able to hold a lead thanks to a stout defensive performance. The offense scored just three points when Bergstrom was on the field. Head coach John Harbaugh praised Bergstrom’s play after the game, but Bergstrom was a surprise inactive against the Jaguars the following week.
Skura/Eluemunor: It was surprising to see Bergstrom inactive against the Jaguars in Week 3. The Ravens instead went with the combination of second-year guard Matt Skura and rookie Jermaine Eluemunor. Neither were active in the first two weeks of the season. Oddly enough, it was a homecoming for Eluemunor in London, but not one to remember on the football field.
The two split time at right guard, but the snap count was fairly lopsided. Out of the 58 total offensive snaps, Skura played 43 and Eluemunor played 15. There seemed to be more confidence in Skura, but the Ravens offense struggled the entire game. They were essentially shutout if it wasn’t for a Ben Watson touchdown in garbage time.
Who starts? Things don’t get any easier this week coming up against the Steelers front-seven. With the possibility of T.J. Watt and Stephon Tuitt returning from injury, there’s even more cause for concern on the Ravens offensive line. If I have to chose from the three, I’d go with Skura for the time being. He looked the most consistent in the run/pass game and has the most experience with the offense. Eluemunor still looks very much like rookie and has a ways to go before he’s starter in the NFL. It’s easy to go with the experience of Bergstrom, but if the Ravens really felt confident in his play he would have been the starter in Week 3.
The bottom line
From what we’ve seen from these three, it’s hard to feel confident with any of them starting at right guard. It’s not the plan the Ravens had coming into the season, but it’s the reality they’re left with because of all the injuries. If Marshal Yanda, Nico Siragua and Alex Lewis were all healthy we would never even be having this conversation.
If the Ravens feel like they’re going to be legitimate contenders this season then a move has to be made to acquire a starting caliber offensive lineman. This team can’t compete for a playoff spot and a potential Super Bowl title with Bergstrom, Skura or Eluemunor starting at right guard. That’s not a knock against them, it’s just the truth. As the NFL trade deadline approaches in less than a month, it’s time for Ozzie to start shopping around for some experienced talent.
Next: Ravens host Steelers in week 4 clash: 3 big things
By the time the deadline roles around, we’ll be in Week 8 of the NFL season. By that time, some teams will already be out of contention. That’s the perfect time for the Ravens to swoop in and scoop up a veteran starter. If it means giving up one of Ozzie’s heralded draft picks, then so be it. I’d rather see this team compete now if they’ve got a shot then wait and store a draft pick for the future.