By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens will be without Ronnie Stanley for the rest of the season. It has been reported that Stanley has had season-ending surgery. Let’s talk about this first, then let’s talk about why it just adds to the year of incredible resilience this team is having. First things first: Where does this leave the Baltimore Ravens on the offensive line?
First of all, this is heartbreaking news. Stanley is one of the leaders of the Baltimore Ravens. He’s one of the best left tackles in football and seeing him sidelined for an entire season is rough. As disappointing as this is for Stanley and the Ravens, this is Baltimore’s year of resilience. The show must go on.
The Status Quo stays intact
The bright side here is that the Ravens don’t have to change the status quo of the offensive line. Alejandro Villanueva can stay at left tackle where he is most comfortable. Pat Mekari can stay at right tackle. Would the Ravens be better with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle? Sure, his value can’t be truly replaced. The thing is that Villanueva would have a bit of a drop-off on the right side.
If Stanley was going to return the Ravens would have a tough decision to make. It would almost be more appealing to leave Mekari at the right tackle position and to have Villanueva be the swing tackle. We saw how much Villanueva struggled in the season opener, playing on the right side of the offensive line. While he hasn’t played at a Pro Bowl level at either position, at the left tackle spot Villanueva has been a stable presence.
The Ravens have gotten Tyre Phillips back from injured reserve. Phillips looks to be more of a guard than a tackle. According to reports the Ravens have signed James Carpenter, a 32-year-old guard with plenty of experience, to the practice squad. The Ravens also signed an offensive tackle off waivers, Brandon Knight. Knight was with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent from 2019 until he got released this season.
It is likely a wise move to take shots on extra reinforcement for the offensive line. Baltimore spent most of the season waiting for their Pro Bowl left tackle to return. Now that he’s not returning, every bit of help the offensive line can get could be helpful.
Unbelievable injury misfortune:
The list of players currently on injured reserve is almost shocking. The Ravens have the following notable players on the list:
- Ronnie Stanley
- Nick Boyle
- Ben Cleveland
- Derek Wolfe
- Daelin Hayes
- Marcus Peters
- Gus Edwards
- J.K. Dobbins
- Justice Hill
- L.J. Fort
- Chris Westry
When you look at this list it’s almost easy to forget that the Ravens are currently the top team in the AFC Standings. The purple and black are 5-1. If you have the Ravens back just a healthy Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins, and Marcus Peters this achievement would have been massively easier. The Ravens may have had an undefeated 6-0 start to the year.
Lamar Jackson is currently an MVP candidate. He’s led two comebacks in the fourth quarter. He’s been on fire all season long. The Ravens just crushed the daylights out of the number two team in the AFC, the Los Angeles Chargers. While plenty of players have stepped up, life shouldn’t be this good. On paper, the Baltimore Ravens adversity should have had more of an impact on their record.
The Ravens aren’t just beating up on bad teams. Sure, they got wins against the winless Detroit Lions and the now slumping Denver Broncos; yet they also beat the reigning AFC Champions the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Chargers. Since falling in the season opener, every time it looked like a loss was coming, the Baltimore Ravens found a way to win the game.
Ravens are putting on a master class in leadership:
The Baltimore Ravens are a well-coached team. Without an experienced coach like John Harbaugh, several of these losses to injuries could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Harbaugh has gotten the Ravens ready for each test. The Ravens had the training camp from hell, with bad news piled up high before the opening kick-off. Pundits were saying that the Ravens were limping into the season and many fans had bad memories of 2015.
The Ravens are getting used to doing things that have never been done before. A lot of that has to do with Lamar Jackson being a special quarterback. This kind of a season couldn’t have been expected though, John Harbaugh has to be working towards his second AP NFL Coach of the Year Award. No coach has dealt with more this season and Harbaugh hasn’t allowed excuses any step of the way.
Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he’s an incredible leader. More than any other quarterback, Jackson carries it all on his shoulders. He knows that he has to not only be the best player on the field but the reason the Ravens win games. He’s a leader by example. When something goes bad he blames himself and puts the burden of overcoming those mistakes on himself. After the Colts game, he stated that he felt he owed it to the team. That’s the mindset we’re talking about here.
The team loves Jackson and Jackson gives nothing but positivity. He never points fingers and he never gets in anyone’s face. Jackson has a relationship with this team that makes the team better. There’s not one player who wouldn’t run through a wall for him, because they know Jackson would do anything for the team. Jackson is playing at an MVP level but he’s showing leadership and stewardship of this team. He’s the emotional battery charger of this team and the hardest worker.
The Ravens are leading the pack and getting better:
It’s important to remember that the leadership of this team extends past the head coach and the quarterback. Calais Campbell, Marlon Humphrey, and Chuck Clark are excellent leaders on the defense. Don Martindale fits in with the Ravens as the defensive coordinator perfectly, and he has a lot of influence on the players.
When you look at what the Ravens just did to the Los Angeles Chargers you have to be amazed. The Ravens who lost to the Raiders in the first week of the season couldn’t have done that. The Ravens are starting to figure everything out. They’ve gone through the wringer and they’ve done it while they’ve won all but six games. The Ravens are hot and they may not have even peaked yet.
It all started against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens got past some mental kryptonite when they won that game. They got a comeback win. They put up 36 on the Chiefs, staying true to themselves and never panicking. It was on that night that the year of resilience was born. That goes beyond the x’s and o’s of it all. That goes to the core of the team’s identity. They made a choice that they would be a good team this year no matter what.
The Baltimore Ravens are the top team in the AFC. Somehow, someway, the Ravens have gotten there. Betting against the Ravens is starting to look like a foolish practice. The odds haven’t seemed to matter much to the Baltimore Ravens, the most resilient team in football.