The 2022 NFL season is only one game old for the Baltimore Ravens, but familiar problems are already resurfacing. Specifically, injuries at key positions.
Head coach John Harbaugh is still waiting on running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to return to full health, while defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald is experiencing a shortage at cornerback. Those things are nothing compared to the issues along an offensive line decimated at the tackle positions.
Ja’Wuan James is done for the season, while Ronnie Stanley continues to battle back from the ankle problems that have kept the All-Pro on the shelf for most of the last two years. The Ravens need some security up front, particularly at the left tackle spot, where Lamar Jackson’s blindside protector plies his trade.
Help could come from the free-agency market, with one NFL writer recommending a former first-overall draft pick.
No. 1 Pick What the Ravens Need
Eric Fisher is still available, a somewhat surprising fact considering his lineage as the first player taken in 2013. He played eight seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs before spending 2021 with the Indianapolis Colts, earning two Pro-Bowl berths and a Super Bowl title in the process.
Fisher is 31, but Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine believes the ex-Central Michigan star is an upgrade on the Ravens’ current options to replace injured veterans: “The former No. 1 pick started 15 games for the Indianapolis Colts last season, and while he did give up seven sacks, he scored a 68.2 grade from PFF. Patrick Mekari graded out at 60.3 in his 32 snaps last week.”
It’s a reasonable suggestion, especially since Fisher could play both tackle spots, having operated on the right and left at different times during his pro career. The Ravens need that level of versatility after James tore his Achilles against the New York Jets in Week 1.
James, a first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2014, was playing in place of Stanley. The latter has missed 28 of 29 games since signing a bumping contract extension in 2020.
Stanley was at least a participant at practice on Friday, September 16, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:
Unfortunately, the same source also described Stanley as “doubtful” for Week 2’s game against the Dolphins. His absence would only increase the challenge facing an O-line set to deal with a loaded Miami pass rush featuring Emmanuel Ogbah, Melvin Ingram, Trey Flowers and Christian Wilkins.
The Ravens can’t let their injury situation at tackle linger for long. Nor would they be wise to pin too many hopes on Stanley, who has had a tough time escaping his injury nightmare.
A smarter move would be to seek out a proven commodity like Fisher, who still wants to play, but has been selective while waiting for the right situation, according to Ed Werder of ESPN:
Without turning to Fisher, the Ravens will struggle to find established, dependable linemen to plug the gaps. Especially one who could help one phase of their offense as much as Fisher might.
Fisher a Good Scheme Fit for Ravens
Fisher’s name easily stands out among the rest of the offensive tackles still on the market. Names like Bryan Bulaga, Nate Solder and Bobby Massie are also on the list, per Spotrac.com.
There isn’t a better scheme fit in the group for the Ravens than Fisher. Specifically, his ability to clear lanes in the running game.
Concerns are already mounting about Baltimore’s ground attack after a lukewarm showing against the Jets. The extent of those concerns was explained by Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic: “I don’t think the Ravens are going to average three yards per carry for the whole year, but I’m just not seeing the elements of a top-five-type running game. The offensive line is not moving people off the ball consistently enough, and their current running backs lack a little juice.”
Gaining a mere 63 yards from 21 attempts was hardly a fitting way for a Greg Roman offense to begin the season. Signing Fisher would at least help the front five move people off the ball with more consistency after he started 15 games for the Colts last year and helped clear the way for Jonathan Taylor to top the NFL’s rushing charts with 1,811 yards.
Fisher made a number of key blocks from the left tackle position, including this one against the Houston Texans, highlighted by KC:
The Ravens need this level of physicality at both ends of the line, while signing Fisher would also provide excellent insurance against further injuries and being stretched too thin at one of the key positions on the roster.