The Baltimore Ravens handed left tackle Eugene Monroe a five-year, $37.5 million contract in March to protect quarterback Joe Flacco’s blind-side for the foreseeable future. That came after trading fourth and fifth round picks to the Jaguars in October last year for him. Its fair to say then, they’ve invested a fair amount in Monroe.
Monroe played solidly last year after the trade, but has struggled with consistency since being taken eighth overall by the Jaguars in 2009. The Ravens obviously hope and believe he can work on his inconsistencies and be a reliable player at one of the most important positions in the game. However, his preseason performance against the Dallas Cowboys suggest that Monroe is still the same inconsistent player they were willing to trade away.
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Here, Monroe finds himself matched up against Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey. Mincey is entering his eighth season in the NFL and has just 20 career sacks to his name, hardly a rusher that should cause too many problems. But Monroe gets sloppy with his technique, playing too high and allowing Mincey to get his hands inside.
Mincey has all the leverage in the block, and uses it well. He throws Monroe outside.
Monroe fails to keep his weight underneath him and gets thrown off balance. Mincey works back inside and beats Monroe with ease.
Monroe can only chase from behind as Mincey closes in on Flacco. Luckily for Monroe, Flacco was able to get rid of the ball and not take a sack, but it was still a very poor rep. Monroe has always been a finesse blocker over a pure strength guy, which is fine. But Finesse blockers have to play with correct technique every snap, or they end up getting beat like this.
Later on, Monroe got beat again.
This time, Monroe faces an outside speed rush from Kyle Wilber (who has two sacks in his 2 NFL seasons).
Monroe lunges into the block and finds his weight falling forward.
That allows Wilber to turn the corner easily, using a simple rip move to break through the block attempt.
Once again, Flacco bails out Monroe, getting the throw away before he’s sacked. Monroe is athletic enough to deal with speed rushes on the edge, and has done so in the past against better rushers than Wilber. Lunging into blocks isn’t something a left tackle can afford to be doing too often. Monroe has the foot-speed to have taken an extra step and cut off the path to Flacco, forcing Wilber to come to him instead of the other way round.
Monroe made another error moments later on the same drive. With 19 seconds left in the half and Baltimore in the red zone, they looked to take one shot at a touchdown.
The Cowboys run a simple stunt on this play, with the defensive end looping back inside the defensive tackle.
As soon as Monroe spots the defender moving back inside, he should step up and take the defensive tackle, allowing left guard Kelechi Osemele to pick up the stunting defensive end.
But instead, Monroe stays back. Osemele passes on the defensive tackle to Monroe and picks up the defensive end, but Monroe fails to pick up the defensive tackle.
For the third time, Flacco saves Monroe’s blushes, getting the ball away on a hurried throw that falls incomplete.
Monroe has to cut out these errors if he is to prove worth the amount the Ravens have invested in him. He certainly has the ability to be a top tier left tackle, and this scheme will help him. Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking running scheme combined with the west coast offense passing attack will take some pressure off Monroe, with play-action making a large portion of the offense. His finesse style suits the system well. But mental and technical mistakes will still hurt him in any scheme. The Ravens will certainly hope they can put this performance down to being a preseason game. But complacency from the left tackle position can get a franchise quarterback injured. He’ll certainly have to pick up his game as he faces a tough match up coming up on Saturday, when he faces the Redskins and Brian Orakpo.