The biggest surprise for the Ravens in this young season is the play of its equally young offensive line. Remember during preseason when injuries had wrecked the unit and undaunted defenders came along the perimeter against a guy who was pouring concrete for a living? We were all wondering if any of our quarterbacks could make it more than two or three games. Thanks to the return of Jared Gaither and Adam Terry, the line has come together much quicker and effectively than any of us thought. After two games the Ravens lead the NFL in time of possession and rank second in the league in rushing with an average of 190 yards per game.
More importantly, they are completely dominating the line of scrimmage. Witness the performance in the fourth quarter in each of the first two games. Everyone in the stadium knew what they wanted to do–kill the clock and pound the ball. How did the o-line respond? With punishing grinding drives that left the other teams’ offenses on the bench for long stretches of time. They have allowed just two sacks, have given rookie quarterback Joe Flacco plenty of pass protection, and have owned short yardage situations.
Who gets the credit? Offensive line coach John Matsko probably deserves most of the credit along with assistant offensive line coach Andy Moeller. They have done a great job of teaching technique and working with the each player. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has made great calls and put the line in great situations. Plus the addition of fullback Lorenzo Neal, the best lead blocker of his generation, has made this unit elite.
Whoever, decided to move Marshal Yanda to guard and Adam Terry to right tackle (a move I thought was doomed) deserves kudos–especially the decision to make Terry a right tackle. Last year he looked like he was on roller skates at that position. Someone is coaching this group up or scheming right to protect him.
Give the players credit as well. They have observed and learned the lessons taught. They worked hard during the off-season both in the weight room and on the field. The one thing we know about this group is they are talented and young, and their future is limitless. If this level of play continues, general manager Ozzie Newsome is going to have to think of ways to keep this group together under the salary cap.