Sunday’s ugly loss in Houston gave the Baltimore Ravens a wake-up call. One of the problems they need to fix is the offensive line who did a terrible job protecting quarterback Joe Flacco.Head coach John Harbaugh said they may shuffle the line and mix it up by giving playing time to the younger players.
On Monday he was asked about line changes and replied:
“Yeah, that’s a possibility,” Harbaugh said when asked if he would consider making personnel changes. “I think on our offensive line, we’re just trying to find a good mix.”
He went on to say:
“I would guess we’re going to roll some guys in there and see how they do. Let’s take a look at some young guys, and see how they do. Let’s keep the veterans available and let them play a little bit.”
Coach Harbaugh said the offensive line is a “work in progress”. This season they have allowed 18 sacks, tied for fifth most in the NFL. They struggled in Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans when they gave up two sacks and three quick quarterback hits.
Third year left guard Ramon Harewood started for the first time in his career for five games; veteran Bobbie Williams started the last two.
The plan to get more young players in the mix includes adding second year tackle/guard Jah Reid. Reid has been sidelined with a nagging calf injury he suffered in the preseason. He was not listed on the injury report last week, but did not play in Sunday.
Reid is ready to hit the field:
“I finally have my legs back,” Reid said. “I’m working and in football shape. As soon as I’m able to step on the field, I’ll be pumped. I’ve just got to keep working and hopefully I can show something to the coaches to get me on the field.”
Rookie center/guards Gino Gradkowski and Kelechi Osemele are also in Harbaugh’s game plan.
Gradkowski has been active for every game, but has only seen playing time on special teams. He is considered the “center” of the future. Though he is not as imposing as other linesmen, coaches like him because of how quickly he picked up the game.
He’s being mentored by the veteran players:
“But we have great veterans on this O-line – Matt [Birk] and Mike [Oher] and Marshal [Yanda]. All those guys have been helping me out a ton. That’s huge for me as a rookie to have those kind of guys in the meeting room with me to help me along.”
Osemele has started every game at right tackle.
I’m all for incorporating the young players. The O-line is one of the oldest in the League and after their poor performance this season every bit helps. I hope that Harbaugh’s plan of mixing it and incorporating the young players produces effective results and less sacks/hits to Flacco. Only time will tell if this is the right fix…