The opening week of the 2021 NFL season is officially in the books and after an in-depth analysis of every team's offensive line play, Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson ranked the Baltimore Ravens starting unit in the bottom half of the league.
Former league MVP Lamar Jackson was under constant duress for the the vast majority of the night and as Monson noted, most of the pressure came off the edge.
Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue — who the Ravens traded for midway through last season — gave Stanley and Villanueva more than they could handle and then some. Both players earned overall PFF grades of over 90 and Crosby's 13 pressures were the most of any defender in Week 1.
As bad as both Ravens' tackles played, it was only the first week of the season. There are two factors that shouldn't be underestimated or overstated enough going forward.
The first is that Stanley had only played 10 snaps in the preseason prior to this game and will need some time to return to pre-injury form. The second is that Villanueva was making his first ever regular season start at right tackle after spending his entire professional career on the blindside prior to joining the Ravens.
Stanley's performance was nearly as appalling or embarrassing as three-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan. The Tennessee Titans offensive line allowed Arizona’s Chandler Jones to have five sacks on Sunday. While Villanueva received a last-ranked PFF grade for his Week 1 performance, there's only one way up from the bottom. I have faith that both he and Ravens' decorated offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris will ensure that he recovers and bounces back from such a poor outing.
The Ravens’ offensive line did not have much practice time together this offseason. Stanley was sidelined for half of training camp as he worked his way back from injury. Veteran newcomer Kevin Zeitler missed some time with an ankle injury, there was an ongoing battle for the left guard spot and Bradley Bozeman was transitioning back to the center position.
Communication and cohesion are essential components to the success of any and every offensive line. As NFL Network's Brian Baldinger details in the clip below, it just isn't quite all the way there yet for the Ravens.
While the Ravens rushing attack was still productive against the Raiders with 189 yards on the ground, they surrendered three sacks and numerous pressures.
Although the offensive line is going through growing pains, Jackson could help make their jobs easier by getting rid of the ball quicker on throwaways or check downs. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman could dial up some shorter drop-backs or more play action to get them on the move instead of being stationary targets for defensive linemen to attack.
If the Ravens begin to gel more in the trenches, they could pave a way towards the top half of Monson's list in the coming weeks.