Ravens' Birk, A Big Loss?

Andy Lyons

How will the Baltimore Ravens offensive line perform without it's leader?

The center position is the quarterback of the offensive line. The center calls the assignments and directs his men as the defense forms in from of him. Matt Birk has been the Baltimore Ravens center for the past few seasons but he has recently announced that he is retiring this year and that the Ravens Super Bowl run was his last dance as well. Both he and Ray Lewis will ride off in the sunset wearing Super Bowl rings.

In 2012 there were two big changes that propelled the Ravens deep into the playoffs. One, the change of offensive coordinator from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell. Two was the change of play by the offensive line for the team. The Ravens inserted Bryant McKinnie, who has been a long time team mate of Birk's in Minnesota and Baltimore, and the moving of Kelechi Osemele to left guard and Michael Oher to right tackle. The anchor and center-piece to the line however, continued to be Matt Birk.

Birk lead the line that paved the way for Joe Flacco's Super Bowl MVP. The line that gave Joe time to find Jacoby Jones down field to force overtime in Denver.

How will that line work with out Birk. Yes, Birk was old and had lost more than a step in his age but he still knew the game and had played at a Pro-Bowl level for his entire career. He knew defenses and how to read them. How will the Ravens line move on without their leader? They may possibly have to learn to play without Bryant McKinnie as well.

They have Gino Gradkowski who they have been grooming as Birk's replacement but no matter how good he may be coming out of thee gate blocking he will not have the NFL experience that Matt brought with him into every game. The Ravens offensive line may be a lot different this season.

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