Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Ravens REAL MVP is...

Following a very lackluster training camp and preseason, the biggest concern in Owings Mills back in September was the performance or lack thereof of the Ravens’ offensive line. Coupled with the uncertainties at quarterback after the season ending labrum injury to Kyle Boller and the viral illness of Troy Smith, the team’s early season forecast consisted of little more than gloom and doom.

Yet almost immediately, offensive line coach John Matsko’s unit began to gel once the regular season clock started to tick. And despite injuries to RG Marshal Yanda, the move of Jason Brown to center, the retirement of Jon Ogden, and nagging injuries to Adam Terry and Willie Anderson, the offensive line has been one of the most consistently reliable groups on the squad.

Back in Week 3 of the season, I called Matsko to see if he would join us on The X Factor. Matsko graciously declined but asked if he could join us later in the season after he had more time to evaluate the progress of his unit. John Harbaugh has done a marvelous job assembling his staff and to his credit, he may have landed the team’s true MVP in Matsko.

Word is that the team is extremely pleased with the efforts of Jared Gaither and Chris Chester. Gaither is fresh off face to face encounters with two of the league’s most dominant pass rushers, James Harrison and DeMarcus Ware. Gaither did not allow a sack to either of these Defensive Player of the Year candidates who together have tallied 36 ½ sacks on the season. Gaither has also been effective as a run blocker and when you consider his overall performance, it’s difficult to build a case that suggests the Ravens have actually missed future Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden.

Outside of his on-field efficiencies, Gaither has surprised the coaches and front office with his work ethic and willingness to fight through the pain of an AC joint separation.

Chris Chester was labeled by many (this writer included) as a second round bust after two seasons littered with subpar performances. But the third year player has proven his critics wrong in ’08 while subbing for the injured Yanda. His experiences this season bode well for the team moving forward as they look to build youthful, quality depth. When considering the return of Marshal Yanda in ’09 and the likely addition of another tackle, Matsko’s boys have the making for arguably the team’s most effective unit.


Anonymous said...

MAJOR props to Matsko and he job he's done, not only with Gaither and Chester (not to mention easing Jason Brown back into the role he played in college), but also with Adam Terry at RT.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Dec 23rd
I agree with Tony on the MATSKO evaluation.
Remember, Chris Chester was also a Tight End when he played at OKLAHOMA.
When Yanda returns next year, maybe the Ravens could Expand Chesters role to catch an occasional pass near the Goal line .. ala the CLARENCE (I won't go over the middle ) MOORE. I'm sure as imaginative as Camerion is, he could find a spot to plug Chester into the line up some place.
.. Lets all get behind the team, forget about TEXERA showing his Colors by DISSING Baltimore , and going over to the DARK SIDE. Tell me the difference between $160 Mil and $180 Mil. I cannot even begin to fathom that kind of MONEY. He will just be PAYING more in Taxes as the new adminstration in DC is spreading the wealth! Actually, the Ravens have not missed OGDEN like every one else predicted: PROPS to Gaither and the Rest of the Line men.
Merry Christmas to all.