The Ravens will go as far as quarterback Joe Flacco will take them this season. I wrote that back in August and stand by that statement here at the end of November. A crucial part in the success of Baltimore’s franchise quarterback is the protection provided up front by his offensive line.
Two of the Ravens biggest concerns heading into the 2011 season were the productivity of their wide receivers and the health of their offensive line. While rookie Torrey Smith continues to get national recognition for exceeding everyone’s expectations, Baltimore’s o-line is quietly beginning to gel.
On Thanksgiving, the Ravens big guys keep Flacco standing the entire game. It was the first time this season that Baltimore’s offensive line did not allow a single sack in a full four quarters of play. This didn’t happen overnight. As Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com points out, Flacco has only been sacked twice in the last three games.
I have been particularly impressed with the offensive line’s ability to pass protect. Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie have all allowed Flacco to find open receivers on 15-20 yard downfield patterns. Against the 49ers, Flacco threw passes over 15 yards to Ed Dickson, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin.
Two weeks ago against the Bengals, the Ravens utilized both a ground attack with Ray Rice racking up 104 yards and two touchdowns and a deep passing attack with Joe Flacco finding Torrey Smith for 49 yards and Anquan Boldin twice for 35 yards.
As Lee Evans continues to see more on field time, the Ravens will be able to stretch the field with even more success as they have two speedy receivers and an offensive line that gives Flacco enough time to fire the deep ball. That’s a dangerous threat heading into the playoffs.
Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com. You can follow him on twitter @zamwi or send him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org