The Baltimore Ravens won their 10th game of the season last Sunday when they went on to defeat the Los Angeles Rams in overtime, 37-31, thanks to a monster punt return by backup WR Tylan Wallace. The win put Baltimore atop the AFC standings boasting the lone 10-3 record in the conference ahead of a pivotal game against Jacksonville.
One of the key members of the Flock on their Week 14 performance was Ronnie Stanley, who bounced back from his recent struggles and, according to Pro Football Focus analyst Gordon McGuinness, delivered his best pass-blocking performance of the season against the Rams.
"Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley was coming off his lowest-graded game as a pass blocker this season against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12, allowing six pressures on 38 pass-blocking snaps. He bounced back with an 86.4 PFF pass-blocking grade in Week 14, his best mark of the season. He allowed just one pressure — a hurry rather than a sack or quarterback hit — on 44 pass-blocking snaps."- Gordon McGuinness, PFF
Right before Week 14, Stanley had logged a season-worst grade in the Week 12 game the Ravens played before going on a bye. Stanley finished the game against the Rams with a gaudy 86.4 PFF pass-blocking grade by virtue of allowing only a single pressure in 44 pass-blocking snaps.
This development, although perhaps unsustainable, is going to be crucial for the Ravens as they approach the home stretch of the regular season, let alone the playoffs.
The main reason for that to be the case is very simple: just a few weeks ago, Stanley was playing so badly (and getting injured) that there were growing whispers about the franchise potentially moving on from the veteran lineman and cutting him next offseason even with the potential financial impact that move would have on the Ravens' cap room.
Bleacher Report's Brad Gagnon first raised the possibility of cutting Stanley, which could save the Ravens over $8 million. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic further reported that cutting Stanley before June 1 would result in $8.3 million in cap savings but also $17.8 million in dead money.
The replacement options for Stanley are limited. The Ravens currently have Patrick Mekari and Daniel Faalele as the first-in-line backups when/if Stanley gets injured (which sadly happens often) or simply underperforms. None of them, however, are seen as adequate full-time starters.
All of the above means the Ravens and Stanley must make things work for the next two months if they want to reach and win the Super Bowl.
The bad news is that if Stanley cannot keep up his best game, the Ravens might be doomed. The good news is that Stanley is coming off his best game of the year at the right time and when it matters the most. Here's hoping he can keep it up.