"They're showing that they are improving. Are there better tackles in the league? Probably, yes," he said. "But there are not a lot of them. I would take our two tackles over a lot of guys."
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For the past three decades, left tackle has been regarded as the most important position on the offensive line and among the most critical in football. It's a causal relationship. Mean-spirited pass rushers get paid handsomely to punish handsome quarterbacks, and left tackles are valued for their ability to protect the blind sides of those multi-million-dollar franchise cornerstones.
"Most times you didn't have to worry about me," said Ogden, who retired after the 2007 season.
Frustrated opposing defensive coordinators did, though, and started moving their top pass rushers away from Ogden's side. Since then, Ogden has seen a change in how defenses attack offenses — a change for which he feels lockdown left tackles like Orlando Pace, Walter Jones and himself are partially responsible.
"People are more varied in the way that they rush the quarterback," Ogden said. "Take Aldon Smith, for example, in San Francisco. He doesn't just play on the right end. The great players on defense aren't locked into one spot anymore. They will find matchup advantages, mismatches. They look for that [instead of] how Lawrence Taylor just used to line up against the left tackle."
The current-day Giants move talented, athletic pass rushers, such as Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka, all around their defensive line to confuse offenses.
Veteran Ravens center Matt Birk said "nowadays, there's so much volume on defense," compared to when he grinded his way into the NFL in 1998. The quality pass rushers are more prevalent. The blitzes are more exotic. And the scouting is more advanced.
"Sooner or later you are going to be exposed as a weak link, or you are going to hit them right in the mouth," he said.
But to keep their left tackles from being exposed and their right-handed quarterbacks from getting crushed, many teams, including the Ravens, often shift their protection schemes to the left, with the left guard there to help the tackle if he gets beat hard to the inside.
In passing situations, teams also leave running backs or tight ends to block on the blind side or at least ask them to throw a hip or a shoulder into a blind-side blitzer on their way into their routes.
Lending an overmatched left tackle that much support, though, will leave other offensive linemen — often the right guard, right tackle, or both — alone to fend off other pass rushers, according to Ross Tucker, a SiriusXM NFL Radio host who played five NFL seasons as an interior lineman.
"You can make a case that when it comes to pass protection, playing right tackle is harder than left tackle, depending on who you are going against and what the play-caller is calling," he said.
Ogden also concedes the left tackle position has been devalued a bit, on the field at least, but it is still important.
"If you have a weak left tackle, they prefer to exploit that position because most quarterbacks are right-handed, so that's the blind side," he said. "That's where you get sacks, strips, fumbles."
Oher's future in flux
Sacks, strips and fumbles at the expense of Oher in recent weeks have left some to question not just his short-term job security at left tackle, but his long-term future at the position as well.
Oher will be a free agent after the 2013 season and should be in line for an increase in salary from the $3.085 million he is slated to make next season after triggering escalator clauses in his rookie deal. The Ravens have had preliminary contract talks with Oher's agent, Jimmy Sexton.
Tackles Trent Williams (Washington), Joe Thomas (Cleveland), Jake Long (Miami) and Jordan Gross (Carolina) are among the highest-paid non-quarterbacks, each earning eight figures in 2012.