Blog Entry

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Posted on: September 4, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 7:20 pm

Posted by Ryan Wilson

If the Ravens can stay healthy they have as good a chance as any team in the AFC to make a Super Bowl run. But this is football and not ping pong; injuries are as much a part of the game as touchdowns and interceptions. And with the regular season four days away, Baltimore still has plenty of unanswered questions, mostly having to do with the lack of depth at key positions.

On Sunday, the team addressed one of their needs by signing five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode, who lost his job in Dallas when he refused to restructure his $5.5 million 2011 salary. Gurode isn't nearly the player he was during most of his nine-year Cowboys career, but he doesn't have to be in Baltimore.

The 2011 Ravens

The Ravens signed him as insurance in case their other veteran center, Matt Birk, isn't yet fully recovered from August 3 knee surgery. Though general manager Ozzie Newsome sounded absolutely ecstactic when talking about the news publicly. "We just got better as a team.," he said. "To have a successful season, you have to have quality depth across the board. We just added great depth to the interior of our OL with Andre."

It's amazing to think that the Ravens, a team that was committed to building a formidable offensive line through the draft, has been reduced to searching through the free-agent lost-and-found bin for warm bodies to protect Joe Flacco and open up holes for Ray Rice.  Late last month, Baltimore signed Bryant McKinnie to play left tackle. The Vikings had released McKinnie earlier in the offseason because he was out of shape.

Since 2005, the team has taken seven o-linemen in the first three rounds and the results have been mixed. A quick draft recap:

2005: T Adam Terry, 2nd round
2006: C/G Chris Chester, 2nd round
2007: G Ben Grubbs, 1st round; G/T Marshall Yanda, 3rd round
2008: T Oniel Cousins, 3rd round
2009: T Michael Oher, 1st round
2010: T Jah Reid, 3rd round

Reid, Oher, Yanda and Grubbs are still with the team, and the last three are starters. That said, McKinnie was signed after Cousins flopped as the Ravens' right tackle (and was subsequently cut), and Oher remained unimpressive at left tackle. The plan is for Oher to move to right tackle (where he's previously had some success) and install McKinnie at left tackle. The other players listed above either weren't re-signed once their contracts expired, or in the case of Terry, released.

Baltimore also has issues at wide receiver and quarterback. They traded for Lee Evans after rookie Torrey Smith proved he wasn't ready to be the No. 2. (And rightly so -- he's a rookie who didn't have the benefit of OTAs or minicamps; no idea why coach John Harbaugh thought it was even a possibility.) And he'll team with Anquan Boldin and, well, that's it. The Ravens have Ray Rice, who was second on the team in receptions last season behind Boldin, and much will be expected of second-year tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

A much bigger concern is the backup quarterback. As it stands, rookie sixth-rounder Tyrod Taylor won the job by default. We'll have to wait and see if Newsome brings in a just-released veteran (Trent Edwards, Josh McCown and Dan Orlovsky are all looking for work), or risks sticking with Taylor. Flacco hasn't missed a start in his three-year NFL career, but without him the Ravens go from double-digit wins to a staring 6-10 right in the face.

A year ago, Marc Bulger dutifully held down that role but he retired this offseason. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron recently called Bulger to gauge his interest in returning to the Ravens and he was kindly rebuffed, at least for the time being. The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson tweeted Saturday that "Bulger has decided to stay retired at this time, but told Ravens he would be interested in case of emergency if Flacco got hurt."

It's a nice sentiment, but it's not exactly an ideal set up. The last thing a team wants to do after losing its franchise quarterback for any amount a time, is bring in a guy off the street to start in less than a week. Even one who is intimately familiar with the offense. There's the matter of being in shape, not to mention developing timing and chemistry with the receivers.

For now, though, Bulger's staying put and the Ravens are headed into the 2011 season with a couple of o-line veterans let go by their previous teams and a backup quarterback who has been in the NFL for a grand total of six weeks.

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Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 5:37 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

If you can't take a complement that also has criticism from a rival fan then that is your problem.

And by worse, I meant like picking in the 10 ten in April depending on when potential injuries happen.

Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 5:35 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

I like your optimism, this coming from a guy who carries the name steelers=sb
If you're being sarcastic I was stating what I just think is the truth. The Ravens are still a very good team but they do not have the depth some other teams do which basically was my point. Compare them to the Steelers. Aside from the oline, which never seems to be any good anyway, they have enough depth basically across the board where they can afford some injuries. Now obviously it is all moot if a guy like Polamalu or Roethlisberger get hurt for a long period of time, but I am at least comfortable they could stay in contention if Batch had to start a few games or Troy missed a couple weeks.

Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 5:27 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Name a team that isn't a few injuries away from disaster?
Prag, by disaster I don't mean 8-8 or 7-9 and miss the playoffs, I mean worse. If Tyrod Taylor has to start even a few games and by that time some a lineman or two and Evans or Boldin get hurt do you feel confident they could win all those games? Obviously if Flacco goes down for a long period they are down regardless, but even with Bulger they could've probably stayed afloat for a 2 or so week period. 

Since: Aug 25, 2011
Posted on: September 5, 2011 4:28 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

ravens remind me of the 90's bears claiming and signing any name players they can get off the scrap heep, good luck with that!

Since: May 12, 2010
Posted on: September 5, 2011 3:09 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

You're right (sort of)...I was laughing at you, not with you  LOL

Since: Oct 11, 2006
Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:48 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Tribe Fan must be actually a Closet RAVENS fan because he just can't seem to keep his comments off of all of the Ravens topics. Here is an idea troll, go to the Steelers forums/threads and talk about all of their signings.

Quite sick of seeing your negative pithy rhetoric on every Ravens thread.

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:21 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

poe:  So I guess that means when you lose next week, your team will "really" be in trouble???  Lol

No, I'm not losing anything week-to-week.  I don't play professionally for the Steelers.  When the Steelers lose next week, they will be only a game out of first on their way to another divisional championship.  The Ravens will still be in trouble.

By the way, using "Lol" is a sign of a simple mind.

Since: Jan 7, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:44 am

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

This still looks like a playoff team, but could be a few injuries away from disaster. 

I like your optimism, this coming from a guy who carries the name steelers=sb

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:32 am

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

I think the Cowboys did the right thing dumping Andre Gurode...he played well for the boys, but his salary was just too much. The Cowboys are getting younger and faster. The Ravens needed O-line help...doesn't everyone. What the Ravens are missing is a #1 WR...Anquan Boldin is not the guy, but he will make some plays. Pretty much agree with what everyone else has's Ray Rice and a host of others at WR. The defense is still their key.

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: September 5, 2011 9:42 am

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Name a team that isn't a few injuries away from disaster? I agree with everyone else though. You don't join a team and contribute right away. If that were the case, why do OTAs and training camp?

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