When the Baltimore Ravens dominated the 2019 regular season with a 14-2 record, player health played an integral role.
While they suffered some injuries in the secondary — the midseason acquisition of Marcus Peters mitigated the impact — none of their core contributors missed significant playing time with injury or illness.
In 2020, however, they lost key contributors both to COVID-19 and to injuries.
In particular, losing Ronnie Stanley in the season’s seventh game torpedoed their offensive line play. Although Orlando Brown Jr. filled in admirably, his shift from right tackle to left tackle left a massive void the Ravens were unable to fill.
The Ravens finished the 2020 season with an11-5 record. Still a very respectable finish, but a disappointing one, nonetheless.
To reclaim their regular-season dominance, and hopefully to carry it into the playoffs, the 2021 Baltimore Ravens can’t afford to lose these four players.
4. Ronnie Stanley, LT, Baltimore Ravens
The sixth-year tackle was selected as a first-team All-Pro, as well as to the Pro Bowl, in 2019 — his last full season. He didn’t allow any sacks, and the protection he provided Lamar Jackson was a huge reason why Jackson set the all-time quarterback rushing record with 1,206 yards.
Not only did Orlando Brown’s shift to the left side weaken the right side, but Brown only posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 76.5. Although Brown’s rating was above average, it was nowhere near the 88.5 grade Stanley posted in 2019.Brown also surrendered three sacks.
Pro Football Focus ranks Stanley as the fifth-best tackle in the NFL going into the 2020 season. In both the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Stanley led the NFL in PFF’s pass-blocking grade.
With the Ravens’ focus on improving their pass game, as evidenced by their offseason acquisitions of receivers Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, and Tylan Wallace, giving Lamar Jackson time to find his receivers is more critical than ever.
And, unlike last season, there’s no Orlando Brown Jr. to step in if Ronnie Stanley goes down.