Back To the Basics

When the Ravens inexplicably announced last week that right tackle Edwin Mulitalo would move back to his old position, left guard, they were basically saying three things.

One, Mulitalo is a decent right tackle at best, but his strengths as a player can only be maximized at the left guard position. If nothing else, the Ravens' new right tackle, Ethan Brooks, will give the team an infinitely more reliable pass blocker. Plus, moving Mulitalo back to the left side of the line would allow him to team up with Ogden, forming at least one stable duo on the offensive line.

 

Two, Casey Rabach is probably better suited as a center than he is a right guard because he lacks good power and the punch to hold up at the point of attack consistently.

 

Three, the Ravens want to get back to running the ball down opponents throats. And this, by the way, is easily the most important reason for making a switch at the right tackle/ left guard position.


The fact is: The Ravens' rushing offense has been down right embarrassing two games into a fresh season. At the end of week three, the unit is ranked No.29 overall and has churned out an average of 66 yards between both games against
Tampa Bay and Carolina.

 

This is definitely not the way the Ravens wanted to establish their offense at this point in the year. If anything, it seemed during the preseason that the Ravens could hang their hats on running the ball effectively like they had during the 2000 season.

 

Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor ran over, under, around and through a seemingly improved Jet's run defense. Lewis bounced back and had another solid showing against the N.Y. Giants' during the preseason finale. But that's why the preseason doesn't count.

 

That Jets' defense that was playing solidly then, has gotten ripped by the Bills, Patriots and Dolphins in back to back weeks.

 

And as of today, the Ravens still haven't been a dominating rush unit since the Super Bowl season. Of course, it's no coincidence that Lewis was a healthy back during that same time frame.

 

Without him last year, the rush offense was inconsistent at best. The three-headed backfield of Terry Allen, Moe Williams and Jason Brookins had their moments trying to take Lewis' place, but it wasn't the same offense without him.

 

Lewis brings a rare combination of power, speed and toughness to the position. Behind an average run blocking offensive line in 2000, Lewis was able to gain over 1,300 yards over 14 games. The Ravens' run offense as a whole ranked No.5 in the league and was No.1 in time of possession differential.

 

The Ravens controlled teams at the line of scrimmage and set a tone by running on opposing defenses any time they wanted to that year.

 

It's time to reset that same smash mouth mentality on the offensive side of the ball. While Lewis shouldn't be asked to carry the ball 30 times a game, he will need to be given the ball enough times to help wear out the opposition. He's already shown enough flashes to prove that he's least 90% close to being completely recovered from the ACL injury he suffered last year.

 

Lewis stills runs over linebackers, sprints with good acceleration and doesn't limp after each carry. The only thing Lewis needs to do is be more decisive when hitting a hole. So far, he's been slightly hesitant; even stutter stepping at times before taking off after grabbing the ball.

 

Chester Taylor, Lewis' counterpart, will also need to be utilized better than he has been thus far in this offense. Taylor keeps his pads low, has nice burst and can make good cuts in and out of the hole. His running style compliments Lewis well, and he's a slightly better receiver coming out of the backfield. Used properly in certain situations (screens and toss sweeps specifically), Taylor could become a real player for the Ravens.  

 

With that said, both backs can only do so much without a hole to run through. Up until now, left guard Casey Rabach and center Mike Flynn have not been able to stay on their blocks long enough to create some space for Lewis to run through. Either they have been getting completely blown off the ball altogether, or they have been listless at getting a push on opposing defensive tackles when they are playing at their best.

 


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