When you think offensive line, most people look towards the Green Bay Packers or the Dallas Cowboys for their lines. Yet, the Ravens have quietly been putting together the best offensive line in the league.
We've covered the individuals behind this achievement previously, but when healthy, the Ravens were able to propel a journeyman runningback to greatness and a Pro Bowl. Justin Forsett had his most productive season as a football player behind the combination of Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, and Ricky Wagner. Even when players like Monroe, Wagner and Zuttah had to miss time due to injury, the Ravens were able to shuffle players around and bring up young depth players to fill the holes nicely throughout. Quarterback Joe Flacco enjoyed his most upright year and one that saw him have his best season as a pro.
With both the rushing game and Flacco's sack numbers being fantastic, we only have the offensive line to thank for that. First Top Fantasy took a look at the Ravens offensive line and ranked them as the best in the league. While noting that Pro Football Focus has them ranked as the third best unit, the combination of right guard Marshal Yanda's top offensive lineman grade along with the rest of the offensive line being able to keep Flacco upright and keep the rushing attack churning is what gives them the edge overall.
Slater Jackson also points out that under offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, the Ravens needed extra time to set up longer developing pass plays. While the offense sometimes had the help of play action, the offensive line routinely had to handle some of the best pass rushers in the league by themselves. Even with two games with four sacks, Jackson points to that being more of a gameplan issue rather than one of talent. With new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, we might even see quicker developing pass plays that should improve upon Flacco's 19 sacks last season. The addition of Forsett in the passing game and a renewed tight end corps should also improve everyone's numbers and give the Ravens offense more than enough to run the ball even more effectively than last season.
A lot of the reason for the Ravens' improvement along the line has been the addition of depth and keeping guys healthy. Also the zone blocking scheme perfected by offensive line coach Juan Castillo certainly helps maximize the Ravens' slimmer, but more athletic offensive line. The simplified scheme allows the offensive linemen to get upfield on rushing plays and open up holes quickly while being able to work together as a team to give Flacco more than enough time to make a play.