If the Ravens’ offensive line improves next season, their entire offense could improve dramatically.
Certainly, the unit has been revamped. Last year’s starting offensive line in Week 17 was Eugene Monroe (LT), A. Q. Shipley (LG), Gino Gradkowski (C), Marshal Yanda (RG), and Michael Oher (RT).
This year’s starting offensive line heading into training camp is Monroe, Kelechi Osemele (LG), Jeremy Zuttah (C), Yanda, and Ricky Wagner (RT).
The offensive line was the team’s biggest problem area in 2013, with a myriad of issues, such as:
- Osemele missed the second half of the season following back surgery and was sorely missed.
- Gradkowski struggled in his first year as the starting center after Matt Birk retired. The Ravens probably underestimated how much losing Birk’s experience and leadership would impact the entire line.
- Former left tackle Bryant McKinnie was bad enough early in the season that general manager Ozzie Newsome traded for Monroe.
- Oher also struggled. When he hit free agency this offseason, the Ravens wished him well and watched him sign with the Titans.
- In 2013, the Ravens averaged a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry, and quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked a career-high 48 times. Much of that could be traced to the Ravens’ problems up front.
Will the line be improved in 2014? It should be. Osemele is healthy. Zuttah is an upgrade over Gradkowski. Wagner is unproven, but Oher is not the toughest act to follow.
On paper, the Ravens’ O-line is better. If it’s a lot better, the Ravens’ offense will be much improved, too.