Good luck trying to find many bright spots about the Baltimore Ravens these days.
Instead of the typical Christmastime preparation for the playoffs, the only thing Ravens fans can be justifiably concerned about right now is the team’s prospective draft positioning at the end of the season.
That is a product of a 4-10 season, which also resulted in just two Ravens – Marshal Yanda and Sam Koch – being selected to the Pro Bowl. The former, Yanda, has been perhaps the only bright spot on offense this season.
In an injury-riddled and embarrassing year for the offensive line, the dominant Marshal Yanda has been the lone saving grace. He earned his fifth-straight Pro Bowl bid and continues to state his case for the best offensive guard in the NFL in the process.
During a year plagued by injuries and underachievers on both sides of the ball, Yanda has been the team’s MVP. He has remained healthy and dominant for all 14 games, and without him, who knows just how awful the offensive line would be?
Let’s take a look at how Yanda has continued his dominance during a lost season for the Ravens.
As always, Yanda’s calling card has been his run blocking. Seemingly since his rookie year, Yanda has anchored Baltimore’s run game, and has embarrassed a slew of defenders in the process.
Against the Miami Dolphins, he faced one of the toughest oppositions against the run: Ndamukong Suh. Off the snap, Yanda engages with Suh.
Before running back Terrance West even makes it back to the line of scrimmage, Yanda has already effortlessly handled Suh. At this point, Yanda has successfully removed Suh from the play.
But eliminating the opposition from the play is not enough for Yanda; he routinely takes it to the next step. As West hits the run lane, Yanda tosses Suh to the ground with ease.
Just a routine play for number 73.
The offensive line as a whole has been average as a run-blocking unit, but Yanda has risen above the group to standout as the premier blocker for the team.
This is no different in pass protection, where Yanda’s awareness and physicality helps him to regularly seal off the right side of the line.
Against the Seattle Seahawks, Yanda initially takes on the interior rusher, Michael Bennett until center John Urschel arrives.
As Clausen releases the ball, Yanda’s assistance helps Wagner fend off the edge rusher.
The top pass protectors in the NFL can occupy multiple defenders on one play, just as Yanda achieves in the play above.
The pass protection of Baltimore’s offensive line as a whole has been rather poor this season, but Yanda has continued to hold his ground each and every play.
Heading into the 2016 season, the Baltimore front office personnel has a massive workload when it comes to reconfiguring the roster to make it playoff-caliber for next year. But one thing is for certain: Yanda is not going anywhere, and the Ravens are in good hands with the best right guard in football on their roster.