OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens ran out of patience waiting for their lackluster offensive line to become an effective group.
After watching the Ravens yield 12 sacks and average a scant 64 yards rushing during the first four games, general manager Ozzie Newsome obtained left tackle Eugene Monroe from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a pair of draft picks.
“It’s a sign that this football team wants to win and we want to win now,” defensive lineman Chris Canty said Wednesday. “We’re not going to accept anything less than championship performance. Hopefully he comes in here and puts us in a better position to win.”
The trade had not been formally finalized by Wednesday afternoon, so Monroe did not practice with the team. But coach John Harbaugh expects the 6’5″, 305-pounder to immediately challenge Bryant McKinnie for the starting job at left tackle.
“Obviously, we’re bringing Eugene in to play,” Harbaugh said. “How soon that can happen remains to be seen. The main thing is, it makes us better almost immediately in terms of adding a football player of that quality to our team. We’ll just figure it out. We’ll fit it together to use these guys the best way we can.”
McKinnie was a key figure in Baltimore’s run to a Super Bowl title last year. Although he’s struggled at times this season, the 12-year veteran is far from being the sole reason for the inadequate performance of the offensive line.
Second-year center Gino Gradkowski is still getting used to calling the blocking assignments on the line.
And everyone up front is adjusting to Juan Castillo, who’s in his first year as run game coordinator.
But Ray Rice, who has a meager 89 yards in 30 carries this year, openly questioned the determination of the offensive line.
Asked how the line can match its performance of a year ago, Rice replied, “We have to match the other team’s intensity to be effective in the run game. Sometimes a guy wants it a little bit more on the other side. That’s what we have to do, we have to fight that. We have to match the other team’s intensity.”
Right tackle Michael Oher wasn’t quite sure if the problem with the running game rested solely upon the offensive line.
“There’s not one thing that I can pinpoint,” Oher said. “I guess we have to do a better job — if we open a hole, open a bigger hole, stuff like that.”
Virtually nothing worked last Sunday in a 23-20 loss to Buffalo. Baltimore attempted a franchise-record low nine rushing attempts and yielded four sacks. Not only that, but quarterback Joe Flacco threw five interceptions, many of them while under duress in the pocket.
Flacco is certain that a few tweaks, and not necessarily an overhaul of the line, would make things better.
“Just little things. Cleaning up some little things up front,” Flacco said. “It’s nothing crazy. Just little things here and there that are pretty easily fixed. I’m not really too worried about it.”
The Ravens (2-2) are going to need to buckle down up front to beat the Miami Dolphins (3-1) on the road Sunday.
“We just need to keep working and keep fighting out there to get better,” guard Marshal Yanda said. “The last game was a little tough. We kind of got away from the run a little bit just because we were down. It’s just one of those things where we have to keep working at it. There’s no magical formula.”
Maybe not, but the addition of Monroe — the eighth overall pick in the 2009 draft — can’t hurt. The 26-year-old could contribute as soon as this Sunday.
“He’s strong, athletic, can move,” Oher said. “He’s a very hard worker, he’s a good player. He’s going to fit what we’re trying to do. It will just give the Ravens another option.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)