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Ravens midseason grades: Linebackers impressive, offensive line grades the worst

Baltimore Beatdown uses the bye week to grade the Ravens up to this point.

Terrell Suggs and the linebackers received the highest grade among the 2013 Ravens during the bye week.
Terrell Suggs and the linebackers received the highest grade among the 2013 Ravens during the bye week.
Larry French

Quarterback: C

Joe Flacco is on pace for over 4,000 yards this season but has not looked like the $120 million quarterback he was signed to be. At the same time, he's dealt with a lot of issues around him, making his first-half season struggles not entirely his fault. Flacco should be able to improve his play through the final nine games of the season.

Running back: D

Great running backs can make something out of nothing. That was Ray Rice's reputation before this season. Perhaps it's the new scheme and the new way techniques are being taught up front, but Rice and Bernard Pierce aren't hitting holes and are not driving piles. It's been a bad season for both backs, which are averaging 2.8 yards each per carry.

Wide receiver: C+

If this was grading just Torrey Smith he'd get an A. He has 629 yards and a touchdown and is averaging just over 20 yards per catch. Outside of Jacoby Jones, the rest of the group would be hard-pressed for playing time elsewhere. The group is making the most of what it's got, with Tandon Doss stepping up the last two weeks.

Tight end: C-

This unit started the year horrible but has come on strong in recent weeks. Dallas Clark is now Baltimore's second-leading receiver with 265 yards and two touchdowns. Ed Dickson has made some tough catches for first downs. This group is beginning to offer more production than it did early on.

Offensive line: F

Where to start — well, communication has certainly been an issue as there have been obvious missed assignments at times. Bryant McKinnie, now in Miami, recently mentioned that one of the reasons for the struggles in Baltimore was due to the way techniques are being taught and a scheme change. That is evident because a guard like Marshal Yanda just doesn't become bad overnight. This group has been a major disappointment and it doesn't appear the blame should be squarely shouldered on those playing.

Defensive line: C

If we were grading the first three games of the season, the defensive line would receive a much better grade. However, the Ravens have giving up 140 rushing yards or more in three of the past four weeks. Chris Canty started strong but has been noticeably absent of late. Marcus Spears has been banged up. Haloti Ngata is dealing with injuries again. The only one excelling right now is Arthur Jones, who has three sacks this year.

Linebackers: A-

The outside linebackers are doing everything and then some in terms of getting pressure to the quarterback. Terrell Suggs has eight sacks and Elvis Dumervil has 5.5. Daryl Smith has been a pleasant surprise for this group, leading the team in total tackles with 62. Smith also has two interceptions and 1.5 sacks. It's easily been the most impressive group on this year's team.

Defensive backs: B

The secondary is in the middle of the pack, ranking 15th in passing yards allowed. Of course, Peyton Manning's monster night in Week 1 counts toward that total. Since then, the Ravens have done a fair job against the pass, though they could use more turnovers. Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith both have an interception, which is it for Ravens defensive backs.

Special teams: D

Justin Tucker's had a good season kicking, making 15 of 17 field goal attempts. Sam Koch is booming his punts for the most part but his net punting average is 27th at 38 yards. But for whatever positive outputs these two have put in, neither can mask the deficiencies in the special teams coverage and protection units. The Ravens have had multiple punts blocked and the coverage team has allowed returners to slip through for big gains. Special teams should be an emphasis once the team returns from the bye.