Examining the Loss of Matt Birk

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles

Out of all the plays and out of all the situations the Baltimore Ravens went through on the field during the 2012 season, I don’t think there was a unit on the team who surprised more than the offensive line did.

(Well…Rahim Moore and just about everybody else were probably more surprised at one point. But I digress…)

The transformation along the offensive line during the playoffs was one the likes of which I have never seen before. There were stretches during the season where the offensive line was borderline Chicago Bears bad. So for the unit to transform the way they did in the playoffs was incredible. While Bryant McKinnie’s insertion is often cited, veteran Matt Birk, who retired earlier in the offseason, also deserves some credit for the improvement.

Click here to read our exclusive interview with Matt Birk

So going forward, will the Ravens miss the veteran?

I personally don’t think so; at least, not from a physical standpoint. There have been times over the last few seasons – most notably in the 2011 AFC Championship Game – when Birk got handled. At the age of 37, Birk likely made the right decision by going out on top.

I personally expect second-year player Gino Gradkowski to fill in nicely, and start over A.Q. Shipley, who was aquired via trade from the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, that remains to be seen.

But from a mental standpoint, I think the Ravens will miss Birk. He was the leader of the offensive line calling the plays and putting his teammates in the right places. It will be interesting to see if Gradkowski (or Shipley) can command the huddle along the offensive line with three of four players on the line having experience of at least five years in the league.

When you add both aspects (mental and physical) together, I think the Ravens will do just fine. Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda are emerging as the best guard combo in the NFL, and will be there to help whoever turns out to be the starting center.

Remember, in 2008, the Ravens started Jason Brown, who had never started there in his NFL career, at center. All he did was lead the offensive line to a spot as one of the best in the league as the team was fourth in rushing yards, and had a solid ranking in sacks allowed at 15th in the league.

There will certainly be some growing pains, but with the veteran leadership surrounding the center position, I’m sure Gradkowski – or Shipley – will do just fine.

This entry was posted in Blog View by Wola Odeniran. Bookmark the permalink.

About Wola Odeniran

Wola Odeniran
Born in Silver Spring, Wola Odeniran remains a Maryland resident. He is currently a student at UMUC with a major in graphics communication, the ultimate goal being a career in journalism. Wola is a lifelong Ravens, Orioles and Terps fan…all the way!...more

One Rave about “Examining the Loss of Matt Birk

  1. Josh on said:

    Birk was constantly getting pushed back into Flacco’s lap. The pressure up the middle that Joe was under was staggering. I agree that it was good for Birk to go out a champion. It’s time for some youth at the center position.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

CRAB BAG: Which Ravens Team Shows Up at Heinz Field?

Every time John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco have gone into Heinz Field for a regular season contest, the game has been decided by exactly three points. John and Joe lost by three in 2008, 2009, and 2013, ...read more

Ravens @ Steelers Injury Report & Game Status

RAVENS GAME STATUS Out: WR Michael Campanaro (thigh); CB Jimmy Smith (foot) Questionable: TE Owen Daniels (knee); DE Chris Canty (wrist); G Marshal Yanda (knee) Probable: LB Terrell Suggs (neck)...read more

BOLD PREDICTIONS: Ravens at Steelers

This game will follow the script of the Ravens 3 previous losses, in that the Ravens offense will start slow and get themselves in an early hole. They will again play much better in the 2nd half, and ...read more

Through 8 Games, Wagner Proving Ravens Right

The Ravens may be sitting at 5-3 and in second place in the division at the moment, but my how times have changed along the offensive line - especially at the right tackle position. Many fans and m...read more

RAVENS LINKS: Can Flacco Silence Pittsburgh Again?

Can Joe Flacco silence Heinz Field again? Joe Cool has enjoyed some success in Pittsburgh with late game heroics. Jamison Hensley gives us Joe's opinion on going in to Heinz Field and playing the h...read more

View More