Thanks to the addition of Jeremy Zuttah, the Baltimore Ravens answered many questions about their offensive line.
During the 2013 season, the Ravens offensive line was pathetic for most of the season and only produced 3.1 yards per carry in the running game which on average is the worst in Ravens franchise history.
Fast forward to the 2014 season, and the Ravens have an offensive line which arguably might be one of the best in the NFL especially in the running game averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
What happened on such short notice?
For one, bringing in offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, who is famous for his zone-block run schemes which produced no-name running backs has done wonders for the Ravens so far. The Ravens at the moment with Ray Rice gone, no longer use a featured back.
Running backs such as Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro share the load for the Ravens on any given down.
The Ravens offensive line was so good against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week two that quarterback Joe Flacco didn’t even get sacked. It would be the first time in Flacco’s career against the Steelers that he didn’t get sacked.
“They did a great job,” Flacco noted via Baltimoreravens.com. “Anytime you go against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I can stand back there and be pretty much untouched, it’s a nice feeling.”
Much of the Ravens success along the offensive line has to do with second year right tackle Ricky Wagner holding his own very well. A lot of questions were raised before the season started as to whether or not Wagner could hold his own replacing veteran Michael Oher.
Wagner has more than held his own. So far, Wagner has been an upgrade over Oher at right tackle and the Cleveland Browns, a team the Ravens will face in week three, have a player who is taking notes on Wagner.
“Wagner has a lot of patience and that’s a good attribute at times for an offensive lineman,” Browns outside linebacker Paul Kruger noted via Cleveland.com. “He’s not really aggressive. He’ll let the play develop and let you come to him. He’s got good hands and more of a crafty guy who understands the game.”
The other player who shouldn’t go unnoticed along the Ravens offensive line is the forementioned Zuttah.
Zuttah has been a great addition so far for the Ravens this season and might be the most important acquisition the Ravens made in the 2014 offseason. The Ravens traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and signed Zuttah to a five-year deal worth $18 million.
With all of the struggles the Ravens had last season with Gino Gradkowski starting at center, the Ravens sleep easier with Zuttah carrying the load, as he stated to The Baltimore Sun.
“As the center, you have to be ready for anything,” Zuttah said. “You have to kind of take it on yourself to get everybody on the same track for certain things. It’s just one of the things that goes with the job.”
If the Ravens plan on going far this into the playoffs going forward, there is no question that the Ravens offensive line will play a huge factor in doing so. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, the unit was the main reason why Flacco threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The offensive line kept the pocket clean for Flacco to make great decisions. The same will be needed from the Ravens offensive line from here on out.
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