Can Ravens take advantage of weak Bears' run defense?
A couple of weeks ago, CBS commentator Solomon Wilcots went on and on about what he perceived to be the problem with the Ravens offensive line. It was the zone blocking scheme in use this season, he said. It’s a big adjustment for linemen to learn about blocking an area rather than just picking out a defender to take on, Wilcots said, by way of explanation for the Ravens’ inability to run the ball or protect Joe Flacco.
Whatever the issue, the lack of reliable blocking has been an ongoing story in Baltimore this season.
“We need to get better with our run game,” coach John Harbaugh said this week. “We’re not as successful as we need to be. We’re not even close.”
At the Ravens team website, Ryan Mink cites grading stats from Pro Football Focus that attach numbers to just how bad the line was on Sunday in the overtime win over the Bengals. The best grade belonged to tackle Eugene Monroe, with a -0.8. The worst was Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, with -4.3. For the season, those two are in positive territory (Monroe 7.0 and Yanda 2.1), but they’re the only ones who are. Guard A.Q. Shipley, forced into a starting role by the injury to Kelechi Osemele, is low man at -14.7, and center Gino Gradkowski is at -13.3.
(For comparison’s sake, Yanda finished last season at 31.2.)
Whatever the numbers or however the Ravens are grading them, they’re letting the line know they need more.
“There’s individual accountability for that [blocking], and within these walls when we have our meetings, we look really hard at that,” Harbaugh said (via BaltimoreRavens.com). “… We are all going to be held accountable — every individual player and coach, as well as the collective. But, collectively it’s got to improve.”