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coordinator0


Joined: 18 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:35 pm    Post subject: Offensive Line Woes Reply with quote

I think it's pretty indisputable that the offensive line has been crap so far this season. What's the root cause of that? Disregarding the talent they've played against I think there are only two options to choose from - bad coaching or bad players.

From my viewpoint I think it's probably a healthy mix of both. I'll start with the players.

LT - McKinnie is who we know him to be. Left tackle is the biggest need on the team.

LG - Osemele has been a disappointment this year. After moving in to and dominating at left guard for the playoffs last year there were some high expectations for him and he's been very underwhelming.

C - Gradkowski is still kind of an unknown to me. He has his good moments and his bad moments. That's probably as expected though.

RG - Yanda has been his usual top shelf NFL guard.

RT - Oher has been fairly solid. Which is better than he's been since his rookie year.

And then you have the coaching. Juan Castillo is technically the "run game coordinator" but I would put money down on him being the pseudo offensive line coach. Even if he isn't Moeller is a terrible offensive line coach anyways. In regards to Castillo though like I mentioned in the game thread he might be trying to force his system on the Ravens players. That would definitely explain the struggles from the left side of the line since neither of those guys are any kind of fit but bad for a pure zone blocking system. I'm of the belief that coaches don't really change their ways so this is something I think is definitely happening. But as I wrote towards the top it's still a mix of both with the offensive line just plain missing their blocks as well. I'm not sure if there's any kind of fix for either problem. Castillo isn't getting the axe and there isn't any simple way to upgrade the talent along the offensive line. And it's not as if the guys starting aren't any good either, we know better than that (except for McKinnie. Gradkowski too to an extent).

What say you? Any solutions?
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SnA ExclusiVe


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

McKinnie has been garbage.
Osemele has been garbage.
Gradkowski has been garbage.
Yanda has been stellar.
Oher has been up and down.
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Mancunian Raven


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe this is the real reason that Castillo was brought in under some fictitious job title; to replace Moeller when the O-line played like garbage again, just like Caldwell replaced Cam last year. Dangle Moeller’s job in front of him, to get him to do better. #clutchingatstraws

But really, I think it’s been said in various press conferences that Castillo has been very hands on with the O-line guys so far, so I guess if he was going to improve them at all, we’d have seen hints of it by now. And while Moeller obviously wasn’t doing a good job, the complete demise of the run game this season suggests that Castillo must have had some sort of effect on it. Whether it's bad coaching, or whether he's trying to force them to fit a scheme they aren't comfortable with, or whether they're just bad/lazy/stupid players, I don't know.

There must be more competent O-line coaches somewhere in the US that the Ravens could hire. Money really should be no object when it comes to finding a good teacher for the guys who are meant to protect your most valuable playing asset.

Failing that, Steve needs to push for human cloning to be made legal, and get himself five Marshall Yandas.

I just don't get what's going on with Osemele. He looked mean, nasty, focused and determined last year. This year he looks... confused and meek. If he continues like this, then how much worse could Wagner, Shipley or (shudder) Reid do at LG? Over the summer, Osemele was talking about having a pro-bowl calibre season, so maybe it's just complacency, and being benched would wake him up.

While Gradkowski's play isn't helping, I think it's too early to write him off. He's still very inexperienced at the NFL level, and he's been given something of a baptism of fire with the defensive fronts he's faced in his first games in the NFL. Trouble is, it's not going to get any easier, and he needs to learn very, very quickly. He goes up against Geno Atkins in little over a month. I don't want to see Joe Flacco get snapped in half.
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M.10.E


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SnA ExclusiVe wrote:
McKinnie has been garbage.
Osemele has been garbage.
Gradkowski has been garbage.
Yanda has been stellar.
Oher has been up and down.
Recipe for success.
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coordinator0


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mancunian Raven wrote:
There must be more competent O-line coaches somewhere in the US that the Ravens could hire. Money really should be no object when it comes to finding a good teacher for the guys who are meant to protect your most valuable playing asset.


The sad thing is that Castillo is one of the best offensive line coaches in the league. When he has the right pieces at least. Yanda and Oher can fit well enough in his type of scheme. Not sure about Gradkowski, but Osemele isn't a great fit. Maybe is he gets his footwork issues solved. I don't think anything needs to be said about McKinnie.

I wonder if they stick with Castillo and revamp the offensive line this offseason. If that's their plan then it makes some sense to me. This might be the lone exception I could see them making in regards to a free agent "splash" move. At least if they don't re-sign Oher. Take that money saved along with the cap relief by cutting McKinnie and go get a guy like Albert, Monroe, or Veldheer. Whether or not any of them make it to the free agent market is another matter but all three are not only very good players but fit the kind of scheme Castillo likes to run.
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diamondbull424


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coordinator0 wrote:
Mancunian Raven wrote:
There must be more competent O-line coaches somewhere in the US that the Ravens could hire. Money really should be no object when it comes to finding a good teacher for the guys who are meant to protect your most valuable playing asset.


The sad thing is that Castillo is one of the best offensive line coaches in the league. When he has the right pieces at least. Yanda and Oher can fit well enough in his type of scheme. Not sure about Gradkowski, but Osemele isn't a great fit. Maybe is he gets his footwork issues solved. I don't think anything needs to be said about McKinnie.

I wonder if they stick with Castillo and revamp the offensive line this offseason. If that's their plan then it makes some sense to me. This might be the lone exception I could see them making in regards to a free agent "splash" move. At least if they don't re-sign Oher. Take that money saved along with the cap relief by cutting McKinnie and go get a guy like Albert, Monroe, or Veldheer. Whether or not any of them make it to the free agent market is another matter but all three are not only very good players but fit the kind of scheme Castillo likes to run.

I would only be for that if those guys came on a good deal. But I doubt they'll be cheap enough for it to be worth it. The money we save with McKinnie will only be for one season. Those guys will be getting paid for quite a few seasons and leave us cash strapped.

Even if we can't land one of the top three/elite LTs in this years class, if we can land one of the top 6 guys, I think that works. That said in terms of "fit", I'd think that Cyrus Kouandjio is definitely the best fit. But we should be in a position to get James Hurst through sitting still or a very slight trade up, so I'd rather we not look to make any FA OL splashes, especially when there's no guarantee that our coaching staff will have figured out how to use our OL. I'd rather invest as little bit (financially) as possible with a draft pick.

And with regards to KO as a fit, perhaps. He's definitely a big guy. But he's also a pretty athletic big guy as a guard. He's not going to be doing a lot of pull plays well, but he can definitely accelerate pretty quickly into a block. It seems most of his issues have been technique and focus. Perhaps it's just some sort of sophomore slump he's in as he's trying to figure out all these new techniques, whereas last year when he was plugged into guard he was just 'playing'. I mean, KO has only been a guard for one offseason. He was a tackle throughout college and last season. So perhaps with things getting more complicated, he's struggling.

Hopefully this is only a temporary thing. A storm he just needs to ride out before everything gets better.

But I do wonder about Gino. Center is a hard position to really scout in the first place. I wonder just how comfortable the team is with him. If he doesn't improve, he'll probably be the guy replaced by a veteran option- if any are available. That or we might just make the OL the focus with our first two days of the draft and go center in the 2nd or 3rd. A guy like Hroniss Grasu would make a lot of sense as a fit for Castillo. A very athletic technician type. Travis Swanson would also be a haul as well if available. Getting a haul of say James Hurst and Travis Swanson would likely solve any performance issues on the OL. That unit would be quite set.
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SnA ExclusiVe


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't care about money, A LT who can keep the pocket clean for Flacco and run block is priceless.
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coordinator0


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

diamondbull424 wrote:
I would only be for that if those guys came on a good deal. But I doubt they'll be cheap enough for it to be worth it. The money we save with McKinnie will only be for one season. Those guys will be getting paid for quite a few seasons and leave us cash strapped.


I would assume that none of those guys get a contract on the level of Thomas' or Clady's but still in the range of $9 million a year. I'm not exactly hoping for the Ravens to dish out that kind of money but at the same time I wouldn't mind them spending a little extra on a left tackle than $3 million less on average for Oher. Again, that's assuming those guys don't get huge contracts.

Quote:
Even if we can't land one of the top three/elite LTs in this years class, if we can land one of the top 6 guys, I think that works. That said in terms of "fit", I'd think that Cyrus Kouandjio is definitely the best fit. But we should be in a position to get James Hurst through sitting still or a very slight trade up, so I'd rather we not look to make any FA OL splashes, especially when there's no guarantee that our coaching staff will have figured out how to use our OL. I'd rather invest as little bit (financially) as possible with a draft pick.


I like the options Baltimore could have at left tackle for the draft too. Most of the upper echelon underclassmen usually enter the draft but even if they don't there's already a handful of good senior prospects. With that said it's also a pretty big risk to take one of those late first round left tackles. If they do go that route I'll probably be rooting for a prospect that's more along the lines of a high upside/high risk because they seem to work out more often at that position in that portion of the draft. That's not really what the Ravens tend to do that early though.

Quote:
And with regards to KO as a fit, perhaps. He's definitely a big guy. But he's also a pretty athletic big guy as a guard. He's not going to be doing a lot of pull plays well, but he can definitely accelerate pretty quickly into a block. It seems most of his issues have been technique and focus. Perhaps it's just some sort of sophomore slump he's in as he's trying to figure out all these new techniques, whereas last year when he was plugged into guard he was just 'playing'. I mean, KO has only been a guard for one offseason. He was a tackle throughout college and last season. So perhaps with things getting more complicated, he's struggling.

Hopefully this is only a temporary thing. A storm he just needs to ride out before everything gets better.


Yeah like I said if he gets his footwork issues worked out Osemele can probably fit a zone scheme just fine. The athleticism is there even for a bigger guy, but he doesn't put it together well. For what's it's worth I do expect Osemele to get over the hump at some point and he's definitely a part of the future for Baltimore's offensive line.

Quote:
But I do wonder about Gino. Center is a hard position to really scout in the first place. I wonder just how comfortable the team is with him. If he doesn't improve, he'll probably be the guy replaced by a veteran option- if any are available. That or we might just make the OL the focus with our first two days of the draft and go center in the 2nd or 3rd. A guy like Hroniss Grasu would make a lot of sense as a fit for Castillo. A very athletic technician type. Travis Swanson would also be a haul as well if available. Getting a haul of say James Hurst and Travis Swanson would likely solve any performance issues on the OL. That unit would be quite set.


When Castillo was with the Eagles they found a later round gem in Jason Kelce that fit his system perfectly. I'm not familiar with the center prospects yet but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them go that route. Of course a guy we all have to keep in mind is Ryan Jensen. The Ravens aren't keeping him around for nothing. If Gradkowski is still struggling when Jensen gets healthy it's going to be a really interesting situation. Or the Ravens could wait until the offseason and sign Alex Mack away from the Browns (if they don't tag him). I'd like that. Twisted Evil
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ViolentMonk71


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey....I hear your o-line is bad.....ours may be worse...Sunday should be fun...hopefully the QB's survive...
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diamondbull424


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SnA ExclusiVe wrote:
I don't care about money, A LT who can keep the pocket clean for Flacco and run block is priceless.

It is. But so is a WR that has proven to be able to make plays deep, intermediate, and short... a guy that can be second in the league in receiving yards through the quarter pole of the season...

And so is a pass rusher that has won a DPOY, a playmaking inside linebacker, a RT that can also keep Flacco clean and run block, a quality #2 corner, etc... all are priceless.

The point is, signing a LT to a huge deal could end up costing us a Torrey Smith, a Terrell Suggs, to a lesser extent it could cost us Daryl Smith, Michael Oher, or Jimmy Smith. Limited resources doesn't allow for us to define any football position as "priceless".

And sure, would I love to upgrade Oher? Sure. But Oher has played pretty well this year and when he's comfortable at RT, he seems to be a 'good' RT. He still has his mental mistakes now- and- again, but he's a quality option.

The way I see it, I look at addressing the tackle positions like approaching a game where we're down by 9 points. We need two scores to win. A field goal and a touchdown. Oher isn't going to be that touchdown, but he can definitely be your field goal. So with limited time left (money to spend) in the game, why not grab the field goal when it's a sure thing as opposed to potentially losing out on a chance to win entirely?

Resigning Oher gives us that field goal. And I see no reason with this talented draft class of OTs that we shouldn't see one of the top six LT options in this draft fall past twenty. And if they do, we'd only need to give up a 3rd round pick to get that guy... but honestly, at the moment there appears to be a great chance of the 4th best LT option still being on the board around pick #25. Both Scott Wright and Dan Brugler have the 4th best LT option available there at that pick. Which means we should have a healthy choice between Antonio Richardson, Cameron Erving (need to scout), and James Hurst. All three of those LT options could be that TD that we need to win the game- so to speak.
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SnA ExclusiVe


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not here to talk about money things and contract things - I don't know squat about those things, but I will tell you that because our offensive line is so bad, we might as well not even have Ray Rice on the roster because he isn't gonna do squat.

You sign a good LT who can keep the pocket clean and have a good offensive line, THEN you can have good skill players behind them. Right now the money we are paying for Rice and Leach is completely wasted because our offensive is so freaking terrible.
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coordinator0


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess we've got part of the answer now. I'm not worried about Monroe fitting in or not being a substantial upgrade over McKinnie but Osemele needs to step up now. Like I said before I think he will and having a guy like Monroe next to him should help too. If/when Osemele gets back on track I think the offensive line will be looking pretty good even if Gradkowski continues his inconsistency. And if that's the case then there's Shipley or even Jensen to try later on. I'm feeling pretty good right now.

Past this season it's a little murky. In the other threads I mentioned that I'm not worried about Monroe signing an extension/new deal but that probably comes at the expense of letting Oher walk. And that's fine with me. In his stead Wagner (not including Reid here because I'm assuming he gets cut to make room for Monroe) will probably get a shot but I wouldn't be surprised to see a right tackle taken fairly high in the draft either.
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diamondbull424


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^ Yeah, I think Oher isn't as likely to return now... assuming Monroe lives up to the billing... and assuming Oher doesn't take a nice level hometown discount.

But this move definitely helps with our draft situation. Not only is this draft looking very good at LT for the first round... but it looks even better for getting a value option at RT in the midrounds. Morgan Moses and JaWuan James look like some really healthy options to target.

Another option, might be to kick Osemele back out to RT. He was overwhelmed by speed as a pass protector, but once he got his hands on a rusher, he swallowed them... and he and Yanda formed a very lethal run blocking unit over their. So at the very least we could have a dominant run blocking line and just give KO help with a TE.

We could then draft a better fit for what Castillo likes to do at LG.
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Mancunian Raven


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was pretty much my immediate assumption too. Monroe signs an extension for significant money, which is freed up by letting Oher walk, along with Leach, Jacoby Jones, Ed Dickson. McKinnie will probably be cut at the end of the year, because he’d be neither use nor ornament (he’s little more than that now).

And so that would allow the Ravens to be far less urgent in the draft. Whenever they come to pick in the 1st round, they could legitimately take the BPA (unless he’s a QB or RB) and be comfortable that they’re not failing to address any huge holes in the roster.

If the BPA is a Tackle, then he could become a bookend to Monroe, giving the Ravens a really, really solid O-line. If they go with another player, then there should be RT prospects in the 2nd and 3rd rounds who would still be very effective.

Now, how quickly can Monroe make an impact for the Ravens (assuming the trade is finalised)? Miami is probably too early for him, so what’s the betting that McKinnie has an amazing game, forcing Harbs to allow him to compete for the job? Sigh.

As for Osemele going back to RT, that could work if the Ravens draft a Guard who is capable of coming in and starting right away. But hopefully we'll see Gradkowski improve through the season and that should help Osemele settle down (I hope).
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diamondbull424


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, he isn't going to be ready for Miami. Harbaugh has also tended to shy on the side of "safe" when it comes to injuries and being ready. We especially don't want to trump Monroe out there if he doesn't understand the protections enough to not get Flacco killed.

I think realistically speaking, Monroe probably doesn't start until after the bye week... unless we see some sort of injury that forces him in. The bye week would give him about a month to get down the offense. And it'd give him extra time to prepare for a rival in Cleveland that we've already faced this season. So he should have some fresh tape to go off of as to what they're looking to do... and it would be just in time as Mingo seems like he's starting to hit the ground running... and Mingo's speed was giving McKinnie trouble in pass pro, which is/was/is his only saving grace as a player.
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