Ravens say controversial blocking scheme is legit

The Ravens sure have been the targets of a lot of criticism from opposing teams this week.

First, Titans running back Chris Johnson accused the Ravens of trying to injure him three years ago in the divisional round matchup between the two teams.

Then, numerous Steelers led by defensive tackle Casey Hampton, criticized the blocking style of those along the Ravens’ offensive line, claiming the cut block technique employed by right guard Marshal Yanda and others was illegal.

Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray then jumped into the mix, promising that his defense would have something in store for the Ravens if they employed those same tactics against his defensive line this Sunday.

The Ravens’ players have remained quiet on the cut block topic this week, choosing instead to focus on their upcoming game with Tennessee. But head coach John Harbaugh defended his players and his team’s blocking technique yesterday, saying that any complaints from opposing teams about illegal chop blocks are bogus.

“The blocking scheme that’s come up this week is one that almost every team in the National Football League runs,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve been running it for years. Some teams do it better than other teams. The block is absolutely legal. It’s 100 percent legal, and it’s 100 percent ethical, and there is no danger whatsoever in the way the block is being executed because it’s in front.

“An adjacent offensive lineman in a play that’s away can cut the next defender. It’s the defender’s responsibility to not hold the center and keep him from getting up on the linebacker the center’s trying to block and expose himself. It’s his job to let that guy go and to defend himself. So when you choose to keep that center off the linebacker, you’re choosing to leave yourself vulnerable to being cut in front. So just play defense, I would say.”

Gray’s statement earlier this week was a little disturbing, in that it sounded like he was promising his players would make an attempt to injure the Ravens’ offensive linemen if they felt they were getting illegally chop blocked.

Here’s Gray’s comment from a few days ago, per The Tennesseean: “They’re trying to cut you and do those things. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing something that’s hopefully going to hurt them, too. You can’t just be the recipient of everything. You’ve got to start doing something that’s going to get you back on track and hopefully they’ll tone that stuff down when you do something else.”

You have to hope that Gray’s comments were intended in a different way than they read, because in print, those remarks don’t sound so good.

The Ravens are under the impression their blocking technique is legit, and the rules appear to back them up. Someone from the league office might want to notify the Titans as such, and insure that they don’t escalate the situation by doing anything silly tomorrow afternoon.

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