Al Thompson
Ravens were 2-0 with Marshal Yanda and 0-2 without the future Hall of Famer, Photo by Jesse Simmers / contrastphotography.com

In 2016, Philadelphia Eagles were 5-1 in games their stud right tackle Lane Johnson played in and 2-8 during his 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for the second time.

The Dallas Cowboys lost guard Ronald Leary when he left to sign with the Denver Broncos and lost 10-year veteran tackle Doug Free to retirement

In 2017, the Cowboys offensive line ain’t what it used t be.

Even though Dallas added troubled but first round level talent La’el Collins, they are 2-2 in the young season, have been inconsistent running the ball and are slowly losing the “best offensive line in the NFL” tag.

The Giants didn’t address a weak line in the offseason and have the worst rushing attack now and are tied for the worst record (0-4) in the NFL.

In football, it’s all about the offensive line. Nothing works without a good one. And if a team loses its best blocker, it can impact an entire season.

Ask the Eagles about last year and ask the Ravens after falling to 2-2 after starting out 2-0.

The Ravens looked like they had a solid line going into training camp but lost projected starter John Urschel, a guard/center and a PhD candidate, to retirement from NFL at the age of 26.

Then guard/tackle Alex Lewis and fourth round pick Nico Siragusa, a guard, were lost for the season do to injury.

Even after losing running back Kenneth Dixon for the season, The Ravens still had hope because they still had quarterback Joe Flacco and future Hall of Famer guard Marshal Yanda, who is the team’s best offensive player.

The Ravens racked up 44 points in winning their first two games against Cincinnati and Cleveland. But Yanda, who was named to his sixth straight Pro Bowl last year, broke his ankle during Baltimore’s 24-10 win over their AFC North rival. The Ravens have been crushed in the two games since, 44-7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and 26-9 against their arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Nine points in eight quarters.

The loss of Yanda has certainly factored into those losses.

Head coach John Harbaugh was asked if all these injuries to the offensive line has hurt Flacco get in a rhythm.

“That is part of it,” Harbaugh said. “There are 11 guys out there, and there are five offensive linemen. Getting those guys clicking is part of it. There are a couple of young guys out there. I am not going to sit here and say there aren’t. There are young guys out there who are learning on the run, especially at right guard. I think James [Hurst] at left guard has been pretty good. A couple of times yesterday – they have some good defensive linemen –they got on our edges a few times. Whether we were sliding in a certain direction, they were bringing the nickel off the edge, and we were just a tick late in getting out there and getting on those guys. They are powerful guys; they get on your edge, and it is hard to recover from that.

Harbaugh expects teams to continue to put pressure on Flacco and exploit his now very young line.

“They will put pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “We just have to keep working all of those things that we do. We are not going to change dramatically what we do. You can’t panic and say, ‘OK, we are going to do something different.’ Within our offense, we have all the elements to … We have different ways to attack people, different tempos. We have different types of three-, five- and seven-step passing game. We can move, we can boot, and we can keep. We can play-action; we have all of that. It is [about] how do we put it together in a way each week that gives our guys a chance to execute the best? That is what we try to do as coaches. We try to put the best gameplan we can together and then continue to work on the execution within that.”

4 Oct 17 - Football, NFL, Ravens - Al Thompson - No Comments

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