What To Expect From Ravens Offensive Line
In 2013 the Ravens had one of the worst offensive lines in football. Kelechi Osemele went down with injury which forced Baltimore to start AQ Shipley next to center, Gino Gradkowski. Gradkowski and Shipley played horribly. Michael Oher continued to be a disappointment. If the Baltimore Ravens are to have success in 2014 the offensive line must be dramatically better. The question is did the Ravens do enough to fix the line?
The biggest addition to the 2014 offensive line is a healthy Kelechi Osemele. When healthy KO is one of the best guards in football. With him at left guard, the left side of the line could be dominant. Eugene Monroe is a good left tackle. He had his struggles last season, but I think he was over compensating for the bad play next to him (AQ Shipley and Gino Gradkowski). Monroe did not have trouble with pass rush off the edge; he had trouble getting it and helping Shipley (who had to help Gino). In football you block inside-out. If the interior of your line stinks, your tackles will struggle accordingly. Osemele is dominant when healthy and will bring stability to the line.
The Ravens traded with the Buccaneers to get Jeremy Zuttah. Zuttah is a solid center. While he is not great, he is a dramatic improvement over Gradkowski. The Ravens just need good enough at center, a position sandwiched by two pro bowl caliber guards. Marshall Yanda should go back to being a very good guard with better help to his left.
The big question mark is right tackle. The Ravens no longer have Michael Oher. While no one is complaining about his absence fans don’t know who his replacement will be. Ricky Wagner is the frontrunner. Wagner is going into his second season and has very little experience. Wagner has talent and potential however and can do an adequate job. If Wagner fails the Ravens have three other options. Ryan Jensen, James Hurst or a free agent signing. It seems likely that one of these options will work.
Last season the Ravens tried implementing the zone blocking system. Fans were very critical of the “run game coordinator” Juan Castillo and his zone blocking. Fans need to get used to it as Kubiak and Castillo are like minded in the running game. The problem was not zone blocking. We originally thought that our good line turned bad because of the system. The problem was never the system but the players. Without Oher, Gradkowski and Shipley starting the Ravens offensive line could be strong in 2014.