Even after suffering injuries in the trenches on the offensive line last season, the Baltimore Ravens were one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking teams.
In most cases, in the game of football, an offense is only as good as its offensive line. The burly men protecting the prized possessions in the backfield don’t show up on the final stat sheet but their contributions are well-known throughout the NFL world. It’s one of the most physical and grueling positions on the field that features contact on every single snap.
The Baltimore Ravens were ravaged by a record number of injuries over the course of the 2017 season, including many that affected the offensive line. Guards Nico Siragusa and Alex Lewis were knocked out with season-ending injuries in the offseason, not to mention All-Pro Marshal Yanda suffered a broken ankle in the team’s Week 2 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
But despite crucial injuries up front, the Ravens managed to produce one of the most efficient pass-blocking units according to Pro Football Focus, ranked all 32 offensive lines in terms of pass-blocking efficiency.
The Ravens were featured at No. 5, only behind the Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints.
"Throughout the 2017 season, the Ravens saw plenty of promising performances along the offensive line, of which allowed the unit to attain a PBE of 81.9, the fifth-best mark in the league. All told, they allowed the league’s fifth-fewest pressures (138) and averaged 18.1 pass-block snaps per sack or hit surrendered, which tied for the league’s second-best mark. Guard James Hurst had a great season as he finished ninth among guards in pass-blocking efficiency and allowed just one sack, one hit and 14 hurries all season. With the return of star guard and pass-blocking ace Marshal Yanda, who has averaged 1313 pass block snaps per sack allowed since 2015, the Ravens are in good shape heading into the new league year."
Offensive line head coach Joe D’Alessandris deserves immense credit for the job he did during his first season at the helm. Without much-experienced depth, the Ravens bet on the potential of Ryan Jensen at center and a combination of Jermaine Eluemunor and Matt Skura at right guard.
Jensen had a breakout season and was the Ravens’ top individual pass-blocker according to PFF. It’s part of the reason why he became the league’s highest-paid center this offseason by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While losing Jensen is a blow, Lewis, Siragusa, and Yanda are expected to return and be 100% for the start of the season. James Hurst was re-signed after producing one of his best seasons and could very well slot back in at left guard again, providing continuity along with Ronnie Stanley on the left side of the offensive line. The Ravens have experimented with a number of line combinations already this offseason and there’s still plenty to figure out.
The irony lies in the fact that despite being one of the most efficient pass-blocking teams, the Ravens ranked as one of the worst passing offenses, averaging 189.4 yards per game. But with a similar performance in the trenches and a revamped receiving core, the offense will look for a breakout season through the air.
Provided there’s protection up front, of course.