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POLL: Who is the Ravens ‘Jenga’ player?

Baltimore Ravens v New York Giants Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks’ Move the Sticks podcast provided an interesting topic for offseason conversation - Who is the ‘Jenga’ piece on each NFL team?

Jenga is a game in which players take turns removing wooden blocks from a tower until a block is removed that causes the tower to collapse. Applying this analogy to football, a ‘jenga’ piece is defined as a key player who could cause his team to collapse if he missed significant playing time.

The Baltimore Ravens roster was one of the most challenging for the analysts to reduce into a single ‘jenga’ player. They excluded all quarterbacks for obvious reasons. Jeremiah and Brooks discussed C.J. Mosley and Marshal Yanda as some of the most important Ravens for 2017.

With a balanced roster that lacks a true marquee superstar, it is difficult to identify just one player who is more critical to the Ravens success than all other non-quarterbacks. The top five candidates:

  • Marshal Yanda

Clearly the best overall player on the team, Yanda plays the unglamorous offensive guard position. Marshal missed three games last season due to a shoulder injury and the Ravens dropped two of those contests. His veteran leadership will be vital to the Ravens in 2017 because neither of the starting blockers who lined up beside him are still on the team, and the offensive line as a whole is quite inexperienced.

  • Ronnie Stanley

The blindside protector missed four consecutive games during his rookie season, and the Ravens lost all four. His superb pass blocking down the stretch coincided directly with Joe Flacco’s increased production late in the year. And Stanley is expected to be even better in his second season. With the right tackle already looking like a problem area, a significant injury to the impressive left tackle could be disastrous.

  • C.J. Mosley

The defensive captain bounced back with a strong season in 2016, which resulted in Pro Bowl honors despite his two game absence. Continuing the trend, the Ravens lost both games that Mosley missed. Baltimore has traditionally been able to plug in backup inside linebackers without a major drop-off, but middle linebacker depth is less than stellar following Zach Orr’s departure. C.J. plays an important role in both run and pass defense, a prolonged sabbatical would definitely hurt.

  • Jimmy Smith

Perhaps no player has had a more direct impact on the team’s recent results than their top cornerback. The difference in pass defense performance when Jimmy has been active compared to when he has been sidelined is striking. The Ravens went 2-2 without Smith in 2016, but his importance was most apparent in the loss to the Giants. After holding New York to 107 yards before halftime in Week 6, they allowed 296 passing yard in the second half after Jimmy left with a concussion. The Ravens have acquired a pair of capable corners to support Smith, but an extended absence would leave them still vulnerable to high octane offenses.

  • Eric Weddle

Weddle played all sixteen games of his first season in Baltimore, and was instrumental in the Ravens dramatic one year turnaround in takeaways. His leadership and communication in the secondary was invaluable. Tony Jefferson, his new partner at safety, is a fine player in his own right. But Jefferson is more of a box safety than centerfielder, and top backup Lardarius Webb is well past his prime. It would be difficult to overcome Weddle missing time, especially in terms of limiting explosive plays.


Who is the Ravens ‘Jenga’ player?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Marshal Yanda
    (34 votes)
  • 24%
    Ronnie Stanley
    (78 votes)
  • 12%
    C.J. Mosley
    (41 votes)
  • 41%
    Jimmy Smith
    (134 votes)
  • 5%
    Eric Weddle
    (18 votes)
  • 5%
    Other (Explain in the comments section)
    (17 votes)
322 votes total Vote Now