Despite long ago establishing himself as one of the best players of his generation, Marshal Yanda isn’t interested in talking about himself.
That’s been true every step of the way, from his draft selection in the third round in 2007 through his seven First or Second-Team All-Pro selections. It will be true if (when) he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. And it was true Saturday night after one of the most crushing losses of his storied career.
“No, no,” Yanda said while he quickly shut down any questions about his potential retirement. “I am not going to talk about my future right now.”
It’s hard for Ravens fans not to consider it, however. Yanda contemplated retirement after the 2018 season, and though he is still playing at a high level, it’s only a matter of time before his days in purple and black are over.
Yanda may not be the best offensive lineman in the league anymore, but he still made the Pro Bowl in 2019. In fact, he hasn’t missed a Pro Bowl for reasons other than injury since 2010.
It was a legendary decade for one of the greatest Ravens in franchise history, and fans everywhere were hoping to see him cap his career - if this indeed is the end - with another Super Bowl run.
Count Yanda among those hoping for it.
“I’m not assessing my whole career and whatnot,” he began. “But it definitely is a tough way to end. How hot we ended the season, a 12-game streak, and to have them come into our house, and beat us at home, that is tough.”
“It is tough to reflect right now just because of the loss and all of the emotions going into it,” Yanda continued. “Yes, we had a great year, but still at the end of the day, we want to keep going. We want to keep playing. We had bigger goals than to be one and done in the playoffs. But that is playoff football."
The most common word used by Yanda and the rest of the team describing Saturday’s loss was “tough.” It’s never easy when a team’s season suddenly ends, and it was especially difficult for a Ravens team not used to being the hunted.
The Titans earned their victory, out-Ravens-ing the Ravens from the moment the game began. They were tough, physical, and played their brand of football, while the Ravens found themselves out of sorts for most of the night.
It’s not an excuse the Ravens are pointing to, but Yanda did accuse Tennessee of some extracurricular activities on the field that certainly didn't help.
What makes this accusation extra shocking is who it comes from; Yanda is among the most level-headed players in Ravens history, and he has never publicly called out an individual player before.
If Tennessee’s Simmons is smart, he’ll listen to what Yanda has to say. The big guard has earned the respect and admiration of his coaches and peers, and he’s seen it all in his 13 NFL seasons.
That experience was key for a Ravens offensive line this season that mostly relied on its youth in the process of blocking for the best offense in the league.
Baltimore shattered decades-old NFL records while revolutionizing modern offense. It’s not hyperbolic to suggest the Ravens laid a foundation for offense that will be copied around the league for years to come. Lamar Jackson deservedly gets the bulk of the credit, while Mark Ingram, Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown are mentioned often too.
But the 2019 season doesn’t happen without the offensive line, and the offensive line doesn’t happen without Yanda. His veteran presence helped young players like Orlando Brown Jr. and Ronnie Stanley develop into Pro Bowl bookend tackles, while he played the latter part of the season next to an undrafted rookie center in Patrick Mekari.
It may not be the most obvious piece of the puzzle, but every great offense throughout NFL history can point to a strong offensive line, and Yanda was as crucial a piece of the Ravens’ puzzle as anyone.
Whatever his ultimate decision, Yanda’s optimism for the team isn’t going anywhere.
“We have a good football team. We did not play our best football today, but that does not take away from us winning 12 games in a row and a really good regular season,” he said proudly. “This is a young, good football team, and they are going to do some great things.”
Ravens fans everywhere are hoping what Yanda really meant to say was “we are going to do some great things.”
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