McKinnie far from only problem up front

McKinnie far from only problem up front
October 2, 2013, 9:30 am
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Fed up with poor offensive line play through the first four games of the season, the Ravens made a decisive move on Tuesday to change that by acquiring Eugene Monroe, the Jaguars' starting left tackle.

On the surface, this means Bryant McKinnie is probably pushed to the bench and makes him the apparent scapegoat for the line's woes to this point. But let's face it: McKinnie has been far from the only problem.

Across the board, the Ravens offensive line has played well below its capability this season. The Ravens running game ranks among the worst in the league -- 28th in rushing offense (64 ypg) and 30th in yards per carry (2.6).

According to stats website Pro Football Focus, the Ravens have run to the left side -- McKinnie's side -- 21 times. They've run up the middle 35 times and run to the right side 37 times. (This doesn't count four rushes by Joe Flacco, three of which were kneeldowns.)

So it's clear that the Ravens run blocking problems go well beyond McKinnie. Kelechi Osemele, playing next to McKinnie, has not progressed this season after moving to left guard for the playoffs. Center Gino Gradkowski isn't driving people off the ball. Right tackle Michael Oher has the lowest run blocking grade of the group, according to Pro Football Focus. Even Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda has struggled at times.

The offensive line has been called for nine penalties, with every starter flagged at least once.

And quarterback Joe Flacco has been harassed plenty this season when he drops back to pass. He's been sacked 12 times, and he was hit 12 times by the Bills on Sunday.

"We’ve got to be more physical with the inside part of our pass protection," coach John Harbaugh said on Monday, "and give Joe more depth to the pocket and keep Joe more clean. Joe does not need to be under the pressure he’s under."

Acquiring Monroe is definitely an upgrade. He makes the Ravens better and younger, which was one of their themes throughout the offseason. At 26, Monroe is eight years younger than McKinnie, who you might recall celebrated his 34th birthday on a party bus recently.

To be sure, McKinnie has never helped himself with a questionable work ethic, and he has never been too far from Harbaugh's doghouse. So now he looks to be headed to the bench.

But there are four other starters up front that need to start pulling their weight, too.