Harbaugh defends Ravens offensive line

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In Sunday's 24-18 loss at the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens tied a season high by allowing five sacks and their running backs averaged 1.6 yards per carry.

Sounds like a terrible day for the offensive line, right? Well, not in coach John Harbaugh's estimation.

“I feel like our offensive line blocked a lot better than the result might have shown in terms of number of yards,” Harbaugh said. “When you watch the tape, there are a lot of really good blocks going on there.”

I almost chuckled because I thought Harbaugh couldn't have been serious. In my Ravens report card, I gave the offensive line a "'D."

Was I missing something? Pro Football Focus tends to favor Harbaugh's evaluation. Left tackle Eugene Monroe received the highest mark on the Ravens in Sunday's game. Center Gino Gradkowski had his highest grade of the season. Right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Michael Oher got average marks.

The lineman who had the worst game was left guard A.Q. Shipley, the replacement for the injured Kelechi Osemele. Harbaugh said that he was pleased with how Shipley played in his first start for Baltimore.

“Like all players, there were two or three times where, physically, his opponent got the best of him, but there were a number of times where he got the best of his opponent,” Harbaugh said. “And almost every time he was on his assignment and doing a good job in getting after it and playing hard.”

Harbaugh explained that all of the sacks can't be blamed on the offensive linemen getting physically beat up front. He attributed two of them to the line not making the right adjustment and believes two of them could've been avoided if Joe Flacco had thrown the ball away. Another sack was the result of running back Ray Rice missing a block.

“We need Joe to take fewer hits, and we’re going to continue to chase that,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll do that by getting the ball out quickly, continuing to work on our technique in pass protection, and picking up blitzes.”