The Ravens have made the playoffs four straight years and are favored to make it five years in a row this season, but one of the problems that sometimes strikes a perennial playoff team is that it can get old in a hurry. And in Baltimore, there’s some concern that that’s what’s happening on the Ravens’ offensive line.
Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun takes a look today at the age of the Ravens’ line, where center Matt Birk and left guard Bobbie Williams both turn 36 in the next three months, and left tackle Bryant McKinnie turns 33 in September. Vensel notes that the total combined age of the Ravens’ projected starting offensive line is 159, and passes along some ESPN research that says that if the combined age of your offensive line is greater than 150, a steep decline may be coming.
That research shouldn’t exactly come as breaking news to anyone who follows the NFL. Football players tend to lose a step around the age of 30, so if your five-man offensive line has a total age of 150, that means your average offensive lineman is at the age when players tend to lose a step. If you have a lot of players on the wrong side of 30, you have a lot of players who are past their primes.
But it may concern some in Baltimore, especially because of the departure of starting guard Ben Grubbs, who signed with the Saints in free agency. The Ravens drafted two players who could be in the mix to replace Grubbs, Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski, but Williams is expected to be the starter there. And if Williams replaces Grubbs, that’s a spot where the Ravens are getting older and less talented.
And a team that’s getting older and less talented on the offensive line is a team that has to be at least a little bit worried, no matter how heavily it’s favored to return to the playoffs.