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Ravens Insider: Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley motivated by 2019 playoff failure as offensive line looks to dominate postseason


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The benefit of time has apparently not completely healed the wound for Ronnie Stanley.

The Ravens left tackle is still bothered by what took place the night of Jan. 11, 2020, at M&T Bank Stadium during the divisional round of the playoffs. Baltimore had finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL, was coming off a first-round bye and had home-field advantage through the conference championship game. Then it was stunned (embarrassed?) by the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans, 28-12.

If the scenario sounds familiar, it should, because the Ravens (13-4) are in the same position again as they wait to find out who they will play in this year’s divisional round.

Stanley is one of just nine players remaining from that record-setting 2019 team that went 14-2 and he is motivated to not let history repeat itself.

“I’m still not completely over it to be honest,” he said. “Those opportunities don’t come too often. Lucky, we have another chance this year and we’re going to make sure that we don’t take it for granted.”

Among the many reasons they do — a quarterback in Lamar Jackson who is again expected to be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, a historically dominant defense that led the league in sacks, takeaways and points allowed per game — is the performance of perhaps the most unheralded group of which Stanley is a member of.

The Ravens’ offensive line is one of the best in the league by several metrics, if not the eye test. Pro Football Focus ranked it fifth overall, with the unit allowing the fifth-fewest total pressures (160) this season. It also proved its depth, with nine players logging at least 160 snaps. That was pivotal as Stanley and right tackle Morgan Moses missed four and three games apiece because of knee and shoulder injuries, respectively.

The line helped pave the way for a rushing attack that was the best in the NFL in terms of yards (2,661), second in touchdowns (26) and third in yards per carry (4.9) despite Baltimore being without its top back, J.K. Dobbins, who suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in Week 1.

The Ravens were even more efficient with their pass blocking, giving Jackson enough time to throw for a career-high 3,678 yards along with 24 touchdowns. While he was sacked 37 times, the second-most in his career, he was pressured on just 15.7% of dropbacks, the lowest mark of his six seasons. His 22 hurries were easily the fewest of his tenure as the full-time starter.

“They’re just giving me a lot of time to read out concepts and read the defenses and get the ball to my guys,” Jackson said. “It’s tremendous. I feel like that’s any quarterback’s dream to just sit back in the pocket and just let things happen and develop and just throw strikes.

“I believe they got better throughout the season with guys going down and just getting healthy at the right time and just blocking their tails off.”

No one more so than the man at the center of the line, 23-year-old Tyler Linderbaum, who in just his second season was selected to his first Pro Bowl.

Drafted 25th overall out of Iowa in 2022, the 6-foot-2, 305-pound center allowed zero sacks and just three quarterback hits on 499 pass blocking snaps this season, per PFF. His 4.8% pressure rate allowed was the fifth lowest among centers with at least 300 pass-blocking snaps, according to Next Gen Stats, and his 3.57-second time to pressure mark was the third-longest among centers who allowed at least 20 pressures. He allowed one half-sack across 15 starts.

Linderbaum’s dominance, along with the rest of the line, was perhaps most on display during the Ravens’ blowouts of the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins in Weeks 16 and 17. Jackson was pressured just five times between the two games and threw for a combined 575 yards and seven touchdowns while the Ravens rushed for a total of 262 yards.

“I think whenever you have a bunch of talented guys, you have to play together,” Linderbaum said. “We’ve continued to get better and better no matter who’s in there — it’s just all five [of us] playing together. It doesn’t do you any good if four guys are playing well together and then one guy isn’t.

“That’s the unique thing about the position is the continuity that needs to happen in order to be successful as a unit and just continue to make strides and strides and get better. You want to be playing your best football towards December and January. I think we’re trying our hardest to get to that point.”

2023 NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) celebrates his first Baltimore touchdown with center Tyler Linderbaum, (left), offensive lineman Patrick Mekari (65) and guard John Simpson (right) during the fourth quarter of a battle between NFL division leaders in Baltimore Sunday Nov. 5, 2023. Baltimore routed the Seahawks, 37-3.(Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun
Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. celebrates his first touchdown with offensive linemen Tyler Linderbaum, left, Patrick Mekari and John Simpson during a win over the Seahawks on Nov. 5. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

To Linderbaum’s point, the Ravens’ tackle rotation has helped ease the burden on Stanley, 29, and Moses, 32, as they have been slowed by age and injury. It helps to have solid backups.

Patrick Mekari has graded above 70 in six games this season, per PFF, and has played both tackle spots. Daniel Faalele, who has filled in almost entirely on the right side, hasn’t been as consistent with just two grades above 70 this season, but he has improved in Year 2, particularly with his pass blocking.

“We’ve just been able to get closer to each other as a unit,” Faalele said. “Playing five as one coach always harps on that and just seeing everything through the center’s eyes and how we can communicate that across the line and make sure we’re all on the same page.

“It definitely helps just building my confidence gaining that experience, the in-game experience that I need. … I feel like that just helps with the repetition; the footwork and the technique and also just understanding the defenses and where the ball is going and where the aiming points are, that just helps me fit up the blocks better.”

The snaps that Mekari, Faalele and Ben Cleveland have been able to take help, too, especially this time of the year.

“This week is gonna be huge because my body’s hurting,” left guard John Simpson said of the Ravens’ bye.

So, too, will be their next game. Stanley says he isn’t annoyed by all the questions about 2019, but they will undoubtedly continue to be asked over the next two weeks and until the Ravens vanquish that demon.

To do so, they’ll undoubtedly need another good performance from their offensive line, and Stanley hasn’t forgotten about the last time he and the Ravens were in this position.

“Those are [the] stuff that are always in the back of our head, the guys that were there and experienced it,” he said. “We know the feeling that stuck with us still to this point and we don’t want to feel that again. We want to correct our loss.”

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