The offensive line of the Baltimore Ravens has been struggling in pass protection as of late.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has already been sacked 31 times in 2012, equaling the number of times he went down in 2011, with still three games left to play.
Since allowing zero sacks in Week 10 against the Oakland Raiders (just the second time all season they kept Flacco upright all game), the big heavies have allowed their QB to be taken down 12 times in four games.
Two of the sacks have been extremely costly, as Flacco has had his own problems securing the football. Against Pittsburgh and Washington, Flacco was stripped of the ball and the defense recovered – both instances resulted in points for the opponent in games that the Ravens would ultimately lose by just a field goal.
Many are wondering if changes could possibly be coming to the offensive line. Bryant McKinnie, who started every game for the Ravens in 2011, and whose specialty is pass protection, remains sidelined for all but a handful of plays every game.
However, head coach John Harbaugh doesn’t see changes as imminent.
“I think our offensive line is playing pretty well,” said Harbaugh. “Sacks come from a lot of things. Sure, guys get beat one-on-one and all of that. Bryant [McKinnie] is a part of it. When we think he is the best option, we will put him in there. He is working hard at practice. He, obviously, has some ability at pass-protector; that’s a big deal, no doubt about it.”
With Michael Oher continuing to struggle in pass protection on the left side of the line – both of the aforementioned strip-sacks came on plays where the opposing defender simply sprinted past Oher to get to Flacco – it would seem to be a logical move to shift him back to right tackle, and insert McKinnie as the starting left tackle.
Doing so could – in the minds of some fans – improve three positions on the offensive line immediately: left tackle, right tackle, and left guard, where Kelechi Osemele would be free to replace Jah Reid if Oher took over at right tackle.
Coach Harbaugh says not to expect that to happen any time soon though.
“I have no – specifically talking about Bryant – would have no qualms about him going into the game. If we feel like he’s the best option at one position or another, we’ll do it. Right now, we think we have the best group of guys out there, but that could change,” Harbaugh said.
Unfortunately, the Ravens may be forced to make some changes at the strongest position on the entire offensive line. Right guard Marshal Yanda went down with an ankle injury in overtime on Sunday, and his status moving forward is unknown.
“Marshal Yanda sprained his ankle,” Harbaugh stated. “We’ll continue to have that evaluated, and we’ll let you know later in the week after he gets an MRI on that exactly how serious that is. But, it seems like a somewhat serious ankle sprain. It is not an ankle break in any way.”
Not what Ravens fans want to hear, that’s for sure.
Below, center Matt Birk talks about the costly turnovers: