With the new alignment, I think it’s worthwhile to examine not only the game against the Browns, but also the performance of each lineman to date this season.
The Ravens’ starters played all 77 offensive snaps.
Oher: He had a night of negative visibility but Michael’s penalties kept his score down this week in what would otherwise have been his best game of the season. The false start was one where it appeared he knew when the ball was to be snapped (perhaps by something he initiated, but he beat it by 5 clicks (.17 seconds). I don’t think that would be called every time. He lunged forward and whiffed on Frostee Rucker (Q1, 13:08) and then held him. On that play, Rice was running left behind Oher and Rucker was in on the tackle despite the hold to foil the Ravens’ 3rd and 2 attempt. He was beaten outside by Parker on Sheard’s sack (Q2, 0:40) where Oher’s opponent arrived just an instant later. I charged him for 1/3 of a sack on that play because he allowed the backside pressure. His 2nd hold negated Rice’s 21-yard sweep left when Michael reached back to grab Maiava. Scoring: 72 blocks, 0 missed, 2.5 pressures, 1/3 sack, 2 offensive holding, 1 false start, 50 points (.65 per play). In the context of 50 drop backs, his pass-blocking score was .78, his best of the season. He’s now been penalized 37 times in 58 career games.
Season evaluation: Oher has had a difficult first quarter against what I believe will prove to be slightly above average set of opponents who provided both good run-stopping ability and pass rush. As a run blocker he’s performed fairly well, but he’s again been below average as a pass blocker. It’s time to stop making excuses for him related to position change and expect production wherever he plays. His cumulative score .68 per play, which I’d adjust upwards to a C- based on competition.
Harewood: Ramon gave ground to Winn who dropped Rice for a loss of 2 (Q1, 6:40). He surrendered a pressure to Rucker, who beat him inside (Q2, 10:51). I charged him with 2/3 of the sack by Rubin (Q2, 8:01) on which he was shoved backwards by the Cleveland DT. He made 45 of 49 blocks following that sack to close out the game, which might be reason for hope. Scoring: 65 blocks, 8 missed, 1 penetration, 1.5 pressure, 2/3 sack, 56 points (.73 per play). That’s a D at guard.
Season evaluation: Harewood has much to learn at guard. He’s had some difficult assignments with some time opposite Atkins, Rubin, Wilfork, and Jenkins, but I don’t think that’s the problem in his case. He too often simply doesn’t know what to do. Sometime’s he’ll back off in pass blocking to see if there is someone to block while he should continue to double. He often has moved to level 2 and failed to find a block. The Ravens assigned him to pull 4 times in the opener (1 run, 3 pass), but have not used him in that capacity since which may be in deference to either his footwork or his decision-making. The word is he’s smart and could improve, but he hasn’t had a game grade above a C so far and his performance against Philadelphia was Cousins ugly. That’s a D…with hope for improvement.
Birk: Birk had 2 significant pass-blocking errors which led to a mediocre score at center. He was beaten to his left by Winn who delivered a punishing QH on Flacco (Q2, 8:06) and he allowed Hughes to move across his face for the penetration that led to the sack by Young (Q3, 4:00). His blocking highlight of the night was a level-2 pancake of Jackson (Q4, 9:10). Scoring: 74 blocks, 1 missed, 1 QH, 1 sack, 65 points (.84 per play). That’s a C at center.
Season evaluation: Birk isn’t the player he was in his first 2 years with the Ravens. He knows who to block, but he’s an average pass blocking center at best. He and Yanda still work together very well on combination blocks, regardless of who is pinning, but this team doesn’t depend on the Run the way the Ravens used to. It’s difficult for me to project improvement for the remainder of the season based on his age and experience. Whatever he can do should have already been on display over the first 4 games. Perhaps the remaining quality of DTs will be lower going forward, but if he is to make a big contribution to the 2012 Ravens, I think it will come as a mentor to Harewood or Gradkowski. The false start on Oher versus the Browns makes me believe Michael was initiating the snap somehow. If Birk can help Oher achieve a pass-blocking advantage by some such scheme, it would be a significant contribution. If you keep your recordings or have access to NFL Game Rewind, check the 10/3/2010 game at Pittsburgh. The Steelers claimed Oher was getting away with false starts that game, but most of the time he was simply beating the other Ravens’ linemen by a lot while Birk was snapping the ball on Oher’s initial movement. Birk’s cumulative score is .84, C.
Yanda: Marshal made all 77 blocks in a rare perfect game. That included 8 blocks in level 2, 2 pancakes and a 4-for-4 effort on pulls. He’s had games with a more impressive set of run blocks, but this was among his 2 or 3 best career games along with the playoff win at NE following the 2009 season (15 of 19 pulls) and the game last December at Cleveland. Scoring: 77 blocks, 0 missed, 77 points (1.00 per play). A+.
Season evaluation: In 4 games, the only times he’s missed his blocks have been 2 holds (Wilfork and Cunningham) and a QH where he was steamrolled by Cox. I have not yet scored him as missing a run block and he’s 17 for 17 on pulls. The 3 penalties against the Patriots were a season’s worth for him, but he’s also accumulated a season’s worth of 1-on-1 drive blocking wins. He’s a terrific combination blocker, regularly pinning and moving to level 2 where he has registered 20 blocks. PFF ranks him as the best guard in the league and that is consistent with what I’ve seen. A.
Osemele: He contributed to parts of 2 sacks (Q2, 8:01 and Q2, 0:40) and was penalized twice (illegal use of hands and false start). He took a step outside which allowed Sheard to beat him inside to take down Rice for a loss of 2. He had 4 blocks in level 2 and 3 pancakes. Scoring: 67 blocks, 7 missed, 1 penetration, 1 sack, 1 illegal use of hands, 1 false start, 50 points (.65 per play). Even with Sheard as an opponent, there was nothing to like about this performance.
Season evaluation: Kelechi has shown flashes of exceptional play and been solid overall, but with dramatic inconsistency (.78 with individual games of .96, .68, .86, .65). His upside, particularly as a run blocker is apparent. However, like Harewood (22 misses), Osemele needs to reduce his missed blocks (15). His overall level of play at RT has been good enough that given his length, it would not surprise me if the Ravens don’t consider him for LT if the need arises. C+ with hope for improvement.
McKinnie: Scoring: 2 blocks (1.00 per play).