Third and Short: The Baltimore Ravens’ Nemesis
In case you haven’t watched the Ravens this year, their offensive line stinks. The stench is so great that skunks prefer their musk to what Baltimore’s offensive line has been giving off. This is something that is uncharacteristic of a traditional Ravens team, as they have always been predicated on being physical running the football. With a dismal offensive line performance week in and week out, it is hard to establish any sort of toughness as the team’s identity.
And they have been in this identity crisis since Week 1. The Ravens know who they are. They aren’t a drop back and throw it 40-plus times a game with Joe Flacco kind of team, but they have had to be. It has been hard to watch some times to be frank.
I’m not going to attribute it to one particular member of the offensive line either because the collective unit has been horrific. Trading away Bryant McKinnie to the Miami Dolphins rids the Ravens of one issue, but is Eugene Monroe that much better? I already wrote a piece about Kelechi Osemele and his back issues would hamper his ability to be great this season. According to Pro Football Focus’ first quarter analysis, Marshal Yanda is the team’s “stud”, but hasn’t been the same measure of consistency in years past. PFF also mentions the “dud” of the group… the award for no-brainer of the year goes to Ravens center Gino Gradkowski. While we can beat Gino up, A.Q. Shipley isn’t going to make things any better.
So there’s the unit. The group that grades out dead last in Pro Football Focus’ first quarter of the NFL season’s assessment. Now for the even better stuff.
I’m not a huge believer in advanced metrics for any sport, but FootballOutsiders.com has heightened my interest with these stats about the Ravens:
- 31st in Adjusted Line Yards with 3.00 — essentially explaining how good or bad your offensive line is in relation to your running back.
- 30th overall power running team and tied with Seattle with a 39% power success rate.
- The Ravens are stuffed at the line of scrimmage 29% of the time — last in the NFL.
- They rank 32nd in second-level yards with .70.
- 28th in open field yards with .28 — determine how effective the running backs have been.
- 30th and 32nd in the league running mid-guard and behind the right tackle.
The last statistic is very telling for me as it has made the Ravens predictable. Sure, we think of Michael Oher as being a decent run blocker, but Baltimore simply hasn’t had success running to his side. When the offense is forced to run to one side — the left for Baltimore — it makes the defense’s job a whole lot easier in trying to slow down the offense.
The statistics regarding the stuff percentages and power-running game come as to no surprise either. Just watch the last two football games the Ravens have played against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. The sad part is, Baltimore knows they can’t run the football on third and fourth and short and must resort to the short-passing game to try and move the sticks.
Maybe, just maybe, that Super Bowl run featured a lot more luck than we thought it did as they group was virtually flawless throughout the 2012 NFL Playoffs. Or maybe they miss Matt Birk that much at center. Whatever the reason, whenever you’re coined as being one of the worst offensive lines in the league, all you can do is go up.