There was a lot of hand-wringing by fans and analysts of the Ravens this offseason over the loss of pass-rushers Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, and rightfully so — they were important parts of last year’s top-ranked defense. Matt Judon was the only established pass-rusher to come back this year, and the team tried to recapture some old glory by bringing back an old favorite in Pernell McPhee. The Ravens would need third-year players Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser to step up this year, or the vaunted defensive backfield would go to waste, as you can only cover people for so long, regardless how good you are. On Sunday, the Ravens notched three sacks, which is good, and harassed Miami’s quarterbacks from start to finish, which is great.
Verdict: Well… this one we’re going to put on Miami being just this bad, at least for now. Their offensive line was a nightmare, as the only two decent starters the Dolphins had on last year’s line were their starting tackles, Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, and they are no longer there. This line is just… well, it is not a good offensive line. It is not just a bad offensive line. Think of a piece of loose-leaf paper that has been sitting in a pan of water for two days, then held up on either side as Justin Verlander throws a baseball at it from 5 feet away. That is probably more effective than the Dolphins line, so let’s hold off on suggesting that the Raven’s pass-rushing questions have been answered.
Along with pass rush and inside linebacker, offensive line has been a question mark for many Ravens fans, particularly at left guard and, to a lesser extent, at center. On Sunday, there were times when it appeared that Jackson had time in the pocket to survey the field, pontificate over life’s many riddles and work on his post game press conference. He seemed to rarely face any pressure throughout the game, and in the rare instance he did, it was usually one pass-rusher — and Jackson simply moved tot he side and looked for a receiver. The line was very sound before the substitutions started, and really never became a problem throughout the day.
Verdict: Let’s put a pin in this one, as well. And I say that as a person who hates the term “put a pin in this one.” This first week was a resounding success for the line, and that might be the case all year, but we’re going to wait on this to make a definitive judgement until we get more data.