Rick Wood, MCT
October 13, 2013
New left tackle Eugene Monroe looked solid in pass protection, clearly more agile on the edge than Bryant McKinnie.
But Monroe did little to abate the most troubling trend for this year's Ravens -- the line's complete inability to create running room for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.
It's no fun to write about poor run blocking every week, but when a team can't even manage three yards a carry, when it can't punch the ball into the end zone on four tries from inside the five-yard line, the discussion is unavoidable.
The Ravens left Miami feeling slightly more optimistic about their running game, which finally wore down the Dolphins in the second half. But they couldn't continue the trend against a solid Packers run defense. Not at all.
Rice and Pierce combined for 15 yards on 12 carries in the first half. Though the Ravens felt they blocked better after halftime, the pair still only managed 43 yards total.
Ravens blockers couldn't create space at the line of scrimmage or pick up Green Bay linebacker A.J. Hawk when he blitzed into gaps untouched. The nadir came on those four red-zone runs in the second quarter, when the Ravens had a chance to go up 7-3 and couldn't.
For the record, I liked John Harbaugh going on fourth down. Tying a game at 3-3 doesn't drastically increase your chances of winning in the NFL.
But the line couldn't give Pierce enough room to make his coach look smart. As the second quarter wound down, fans at M&T Bank Stadium cascaded boos on the unit. The boos came again in the third quarter, when guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele jumped offsides on consecutive plays.
This is a mess that can't be pinned on any one player. The failures have come on both sides of the line and in all situations.
"We've got the right people," Harbaugh said after the game. "We¿re doing the right things. The thing that we're not going to do is overreact."
Players offered many concrete explanations for the disappointing line play.
"No one's frustrated. We're just working to find out why it's not successful," Monroe said. "Everyone wants the run game to go, and it will."
That's what you want a player to say, of course. It's just not clear how the worm might turn given that the personnel seems set.