Bob Haynie: Offensive Line Play Must Improve For The Ravens
To say that the 2013 Baltimore Ravens struggled on offense would be a massive understatement. When TE Dennis Pitta went down with a hip injury early in training camp, it proved to be a precursor to what would be in store for the O.
Pitta’s injury cost him 12 games and was just one of many problems that the Ravens dealt with last season. RB’s Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were injured and ineffective. QB Joe Flacco was erratic and WR/KR Jacoby Jones was injured by his own teammate.
If we were going to pinpoint one area that plagued the offense more than any other, it would have to be the offensive line. The play of the O-Line in 2013 was substandard, to put it kindly.
The Ravens averaged 3.1 yards per rushing attempt last season which was the worst of any team in the NFL. They averaged 307.4 yards per game which was 29th in the league. Only the Rams, Jags and Bucs were worse than Baltimore in that category. Flacco was sacked 48 times which was the second most behind only Miami’s Ryan Tannehill (58).
These putrid numbers are all a reflection of how poorly the O-Line played.
The good news is that the line should be much improved in 2014. That’s refreshing because things couldn’t get much worse.
The Ravens traded for LT Eugene Monroe in the middle of last season and he was an upgrade over Byrant McKinnie who was shipped off to the Dolphins. Re-signing Monroe was a priority for Baltimore in the offseason and they got it done.
LG Kelechi Osemele, who missed time last season with an injured back, is healthy and will replace A.Q. Shipley. Osemele is expected to be a beast in his third season.
RG Marshal Yanda did not play up to his usual standards in 2013 as he dealt with injuries but he is healthy now. A healthy Yanda gives the Ravens an All-Pro at that position.
Gino Gradkowski had a rough year at center trying to replace the retired Matt Birk. Recognizing that, the Ravens traded a 5th round pick in the 2015 draft to Tampa Bay for Jeremy Zuttah. Zuttah may not be Mike Webster, but he is an improvement over Gradkowski.
With Michael Oher gone to the Tennessee Titans via free-agency, Ricky Wagner is the training camp leader to take over at RT.
The Ravens have a new OC in Gary Kubiak and newcomers like WR Steve Smith and TE Owen Daniels on offense. They will also have a healthy Pitta for a full season. Add these elements to what is already there, and the Ravens could be dangerous with the football.
It all starts with the offensive line, however.
On paper, they are better. We’ll find out soon enough if they will be good enough on the field.
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