The Baltimore Ravens are off to a 3-1 start and have been solid, but at times, it’s felt as if the team has been a bit underwhelming this season on the offensive side of the ball.
In 2019, the Ravens put up points at will. This season, that hasn’t happened as much, and ESPN pundit Dan Orlovsky thinks he has identified a reason why. It revolves around the way the Ravens are protecting the pocket with their offensive line.
Ravens win rates
Pass blocking (14th)
Run blocking (8th)
Pass blocking (2nd)
Run blocking (1st) pic.twitter.com/1D011511o0
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 8, 2020
“I said this in the offseason and it’s kind of showing itself. They miss Marshal Yanda. Marshal Yanda, the Hall of Fame right guard, was the foundation. Now there’s cracks in that offensive line. They’re not nearly as dominant especially internally. It starts with his replacement Tyre Phillips. Young player, hopefully he’s going to be a good player. He’s not moving the line of scrimmage, he’s getting beat on his 1 on 1 blocks. Their center (Matt) Skura is coming off a knee injury. Surgery on his knee. The internal play of that offensive line is different this year. They miss Marshal Yanda dearly. They’re also asking their fullback to go block out in space like they did with Hayden Hurst, and that isn’t happening as well.”
Orlovsky went on to present some statistics which prove up front that the team is struggling to protect and give Lamar Jackson a quality pocket to make plays from within. Yanda did retire this offseason, and his exit left a void up front the team could still be struggling to cope with.
As a whole, Baltimore’s offense still remains a quality group, but they are scuffling a bit and are nowhere near the league’s top offense 4 weeks into 2020. The Ravens have put up 341.5 yards per game, which is a low average. Their rushing offense has rumbled for 643 yards, but those totals aren’t aided by the team’s passing attack which has struggled a bit.
The changes up front could be taking their toll on the Ravens. If Phillips can continue to learn on the job and play solid football while Skura continues in his recovery season, the team could be alright in the end. If not, the Ravens could be in some trouble long term this year.
Certainly, as Orlovsky says, the line play is something to watch.
John Harbaugh Lauded Matt Skura
Skura played and played well for the Ravens in their season opener this year, and as a result of that, he got some very special recognition from his coach after the game given what he was able to push through in order to return so fast this season.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 14, 2020
“I think it’s a remarkable accomplishment, I didn’t think there was any chance he’d be able to go Week 1 in all honestly. I thought he’d be a PUP. Come back after 6 weeks at the earliest type of a situation, that would have been excellent. For him to be playing in the opener is a tribute to him, to our trainers and the doctors that did the surgery and the whole thing. His wife for putting up with him. All these things that go into this. He played a good solid game. He’s only going to get better from here. He’s on limited practice and I don’t think physically he’s 100% yet either but he still played a winning football game. Very proud of him for that. He did a great job.”
Skura’s turnaround is huge for the Ravens, and the hope is that he can get back up to consistency soon for the health of their offensive front.
Matt Skura Injury
Skura was injured late last season and lost after an ugly leg injury which played out in Week 12, and according to him this past offseason, he’s now progressing well enough this offseason where he thinks he will be ready for work on the field in 2020. Skura shared that thought while joining Alex Marvez on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Good news on @Ravens center @Matt_Skura62 in his recovery from a torn ACL, MCL, PCL & dislocated kneecap suffered last November: He told @Gil_Brandt & me on @SiriusXMNFL he's set to begin running again in the next few weeks & is optimistic about practicing at training camp
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) March 11, 2020
Obviously, getting Skura back to health is huge for the Ravens. The 27 year old is the anchor of the line and has started in 39 games for the team. He has been durable and tough, and will be called upon to remain the anchor for this group in the coming years.
The hope is the Ravens can keep Skura healthy and rebounding while also getting some better play out of some new faces up front.