Carolina, Tampa Bay or even against preseason opponents, the offensive line hasn't held up too well in pass protection and has regressed as a run blocking unit."> Carolina, Tampa Bay or even against preseason opponents, the offensive line hasn't held up too well in pass protection and has regressed as a run blocking unit.">

Mirage Offensive Line Continues to Sputter

For the third season in a row, the Ravens' offensive line is performing at a less than adequate level. Whether it's against <A HREF="htt[:\\panthers.theinsiders.com">Carolina</A>, <A HREF="http:\\buccaneers.theinsiders.com">Tampa Bay</A> or even against preseason opponents, the offensive line hasn't held up too well in pass protection and has regressed as a run blocking unit.

They were supposed to be the most seasoned unit on the team. This was the only facet of the team that was not ravaged by the cap. Brian Billick even went far enough to say that this was a better offensive line than the one he had during the 2000 Super Bowl run.

 

Unfortunately, saying one mediocre line is better than another is not exactly a comforting thought. And the bottom line is: this offensive line is not going to get better until the Ravens actually make a commitment to fix it.

 

Now, to be fair, the Ravens were hampered by cap constraints all year long. They made the attempt to sign a serviceable right tackle in Marcus Spears, but the Kansas City Chief reneged on his verbal agreement with the Ravens at the last second.

 

But this is a problem that the Ravens have halfheartedly tried to fix for years, and their lack of commitment comes back to haunt them every season.

 

And they've had the resources to improve the line before they went into cap hell. Two years ago, before the Ravens won the Super Bowl; they were in terrific cap shape. But the Ravens didn't sign a single offensive lineman, going with Mike Flynn as the starting right guard and Harry Swayne as the starting right tackle.

 

The year after, the Ravens were still a good $5 million under the cap. The Ravens signed right tackle Leon Searcy, but they could have used the $30 million they gave to him to sign two good players that could have filled two glaring holes at center and right tackle. 

At the time, Mike Compton (who is now the starting center for New England) was available for a deal that averaged around $2 million a season. Matt Lepsis, the starting right tackle for Denver, was available for $15 million.

 

Searcy ended up being a bust, the other two are still starting for their respective teams.

 

If you want to say that drafting lineman is the way to go, than by all means, draft away. The problem is: the Ravens haven't exactly stock piled great prospects through the draft either.

 

Up until last year, Casey Rabach was the Ravens' first offensive lineman taken within the first three rounds of the draft since they drafted Jonathan Ogden with the No.4 pick six years ago. The Ravens have drafted at least one offensive lineman in every single draft up until this year, but they have never drafted multiple linemen in any one draft.

 

What does that mean? It means that while you have drafted offensive linemen, you are putting too much stock into that one, late round pick panning out every time.


While the Ravens always draft the best player available, there is no rule that says that you can't draft the best player available at a position you desperately need to improve.


The team has made those concessions before, drafting Duane Starks, Travis Taylor and Jamal Lewis because they needed a cornerback, wide receiver and running back desperately.  

 

Depth has also always been an issue. If you don't believe me, just close your eyes and recount the days when Kipp Vickers and Orlando Bobo were the main backups listed on the depth chart.   

 

This year, thinking about Jason Thomas subbing in at center, guard or right tackle is something that you hope doesn't come to pass. But injuries happen, especially along both offensive and defensive lines.

 

For the next two years, the Ravens will be in immaculate cap shape and they should have some high draft picks to play with.

 

Rebuilding the line will start with getting a new center. Mike Flynn trys hard, but he's just not that gifted. He lacks power, good quickness or athleticism. He gets overpowered by bigger defensive tackles too easily. He's a better right guard, but that's not saying much. It would be like picking which poison you would rather swallow.  

 

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