After a lackluster performance in Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday, John Harbaugh summed up the Ravens’ offensive line performance as “inconsistent.”
To be inconsistent, you must experience both highs and lows – the Ravens’ offensive line certainly fits that description. One player who may embody it more than any through the season’s first five games is rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele.
Even the best “instant star” rookies will struggle at some point. It looks like the speed and talent of NFL competition is finally catching up with the rookie out of Iowa State.
Against the Chiefs, Osemele found himself on the losing end to many of his matchups against Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, who combine as one of the best pass-rushing combos in the league. Collectively, the duo had four sacks Sunday, with each beating Osemele once and left tackle Michael Oher once.
The impact of Houston and Hali was felt even if they weren’t able to get to quarterback Joe Flacco. During the final drive of the first quarter, Houston beat Osemele on consecutive plays in the red zone, forcing Flacco to rush passes to Anquan Boldin and Tandon Doss, both of which fell incomplete.
The next drive, Houston once again beat Osemele, this time for the first of his two sacks on the day.
Osemele is too big, athletic and physical to be bullied around by opposing defensive players, but at some point experience must factor in.
Mentally, Osemele is making mistakes as well.
Osemele finds himself tied for the team lead in penalties with four, all of which have been committed in the past two games. He’s picked up three false starts and one illegal use of hands.
The most alarming issue with Osemele’s penalties is that in all but one occurrence, the penalty stalled a Ravens drive to the point where they were not able to score or even earn a first down after the penalty occurred.
Osemele and his coaches have reviewed the game film from Kansas City and will make appropriate adjustments as the team prepares to host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
On the other side, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware will look at the same film as well and try to exploit Osemele.
Look for the Ravens to utilize tight end Ed Dickson as an extra blocker as the team prepares to slow down Ware, who has still had tremendous success even when being double-teamed throughout his career.