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John Harbaugh Gives His Evaluation Of Offensive Line


The Ravens gave up nine quarterback hits and four sacks in their Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills.

On Monday, after watching the tape, Head Coach John Harbaugh gave his evaluation.

The fault shouldn't be pinned on the two rookies, tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Alex Lewis, starting on the left side of an NFL offensive line for the first time in 21 years. Harbaugh said it's "quite a statement" that the rookies made history.

"They both played pretty darn well," Harbaugh said. "Pretty darn well for the first time both being out there.

"They're both very smart, both very poised. They learn quickly, so I expect them to be that much better next week and that will be demanded of them. They can't be rookies. They need to be veterans. They expect that of themselves, that's what you appreciate about those guys."

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Stanley only surrendered one quarterback hit and one hurry in pass protection. Lewis allowed the same.

Stanley, the sixth-overall pick out of Notre Dame, received the offensive line's third-best grade (negative -0.3) behind right guard Marshal Yanda (plus-2.9) and right tackle Rick Wagner (plus-0.7). Lewis was graded with a negative-1.7.

Center Jeremy Zuttah (negative-1.0) gave up one sack on a rush by Bills outside linebacker Jerry Hughes up the middle. Zuttah and Lewis were especially docked for their run blocking.

Another issue was with the cadence. There was a mistiming with one snap that lead to the Ravens' only turnover when Zuttah snapped the ball before quarterback Joe Flacco was expecting it. The Ravens also committed three false start penalties (Stanley, Yanda and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.).

Harbaugh said the issues come from trying to disguise snap counts, which is something they feel is important so opponents can't key in and get better jumps off the line of scrimmage.

"It's a lot to keep track for guys," Harbaugh said. "I promise you – offensive linemen – there's a reason sometimes people say they have to be the smartest guys on the team. I wouldn't dispute that.

"To sit in that stance and be poised through all of that is a challenging thing. We've worked on that from the beginning. … We had those issues. We need to get better at that."

Harbaugh was asked about whether John Urschel, who was inactive as he continues to rehab a shoulder injury, could play center. Urschel was working with the first-team offense at left guard before his injury, but could also play at center, where he started seven games last year.

"He's ready to play," Harbaugh said. "He's been playing center since the first day he got here and he continues to."

In addition to improving the pass protection, the Ravens would also like to see more from their running game going forward. Baltimore came into the game with just two active running backs and planned to throw the ball a lot against Buffalo, but averaged just 3.3 yards per rushing attempt. Running backs Justin Forsett and Terrance West, who basically split the carries, averaged 4.1 yards and 2.7 yards per carry, respectively.

"3.3 yards per carry is not what we're looking for," Harbaugh said.

"The nuts and bolts runs, we were hit and miss. Some of it's their front. Some of it's us not executing, not blocking, [or] not running in the right spot, all of those kinds of things. We just have to get better."

The run game did get the job done in crunch time, however, which speaks to the overall nature of the Ravens' offensive performance. It wasn't always pretty, but, most importantly, it got the job done.

Baltimore's offense got the ball back with four minutes, 29 seconds remaining and trying to protect a six-point lead. After a loss of a yard on first down, wide receiver Mike Wallace took a jet sweep 11 yards around the edge.

Forsett then took a flipped toss 7 yards while making a Bills defender miss. West pushed forward for a 3-yard gain and first down on third-and-1 that sealed the victory.

"I thought we had some really creative runs in there – some really schemed-up runs," Harbaugh said. "Our guys executed those plays beautifully. Those are critical plays in the game that allowed us to take a knee. Those are the best runs, when you take a knee. Those runs allowed that to happen."

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