Misfortune has plagued the Baltimore Ravens since training camp. The injury bug hit hard, and the team has lost several key players to begin the season. The run of bad luck continued into Week 1. The Ravens shockingly lost their season opener to the Las Vegas Raiders. Heading into a Sunday Night Football matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore’s biggest weakness may rear its ugly head once again.
The Ravens have a serious problem on the offensive line
Baltimore, we have a problem. Lamar Jackson was running for his life during the Ravens’ Monday Night Football loss to the Raiders.
There were already some concerns surrounding the offensive line heading into the season. Ronnie Stanley suffered a significant ankle injury during the 2020 season. He showed some considerable rust in his first full game back.
The All-Pro left tackle missed multiple practices ahead of the Week 2 matchup and will not suit up against the Chiefs. There’s a possibility that the Notre Dame product misses more time, per Jason La Canfora.
The injury to Stanley forces Baltimore to start Alejandro Villanueva at left tackle and reserve lineman Patrick Mekari at right tackle. This does not spell good news for the Ravens offense.
The Ravens added Villanueva in the offseason to help bolster the revamped offensive line. He drew the start at right tackle in Week 1 and was a major disappointment. The former Steeler was bullied throughout the night after making his first start on the right side of the line.
Villanueva struggled against the young Las Vegas pass rushers, mainly Maxx Crosby, who had his way with the 32-year-old. The Ravens also added starting guard Tyre Phillips to the already extensive injured reserve list.
The 2021 season may end up being a long one if the Ravens can’t fix their offensive line woes.
Baltimore traded Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs after the 2020 season
The Baltimore Ravens traded Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2021 NFL Draft. In return, the Ravens secured the No. 31 overall pick, along with a 2021 third-round pick and a fourth-round and a fifth-round pick in 2022.
The trade haul was undoubtedly a solid return. However, it has to be hard for general manager Eric DeCosta and the Ravens front office not to regret the move.
Orlando Brown Jr. wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play left tackle in the NFL. He thrived as the right tackle in Baltimore and played well as the starting left tackle when Ronnie Stanley went down. However, given the impending return of Stanley, it was inevitable for Brown to move back to right tackle.
Financially, it would have been difficult for the Ravens to keep Brown long-term, though. The compensation made the deal make great sense for the team. Still, trading him to one of their biggest AFC foes was a bit of a head-scratcher.
Brown will be starting at left tackle for the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. He built strong bonds with his Ravens teammates in his three seasons with the team. Now, he’ll get a front-row seat to view their makeshift offensive front.
How will the Ravens offense fare against the Chiefs defense?
The Ravens offense was hard to watch at times against the Raiders. Lamar Jackson lost two fumbles, which this team absolutely cannot have. However, he tried to make something out of nothing.
The odds are stacked against Jackson with Greg Roman’s questionable play-calling. The disastrous offensive line play could spell trouble for the former MVP yet again in the matchup with Kansas City.
Maxx Crosby and Carl Nassib dominated the Ravens’ tackles. Frank Clark and Chris Jones are a step up from the Raiders pass rushers and could present some serious problems for Baltimore.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will likely try to unleash Clark and Jones on the struggling offensive linemen. This will put an immense amount of pressure on Jackson and the Ravens running game.
Interior linemen Bradley Bozeman and Kevin Zeitler fared much better in Week 1. The Ravens tallied 189 yards on the ground. Running back Ty’Son Williams burst through a hole 35-yard touchdown run.
The Ravens will need to establish their running game early and often to have a chance to upset the two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs.
Baltimore offensive line will be tested, and this game will have a huge bearing on the rest of the 2021 season.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.