The Ravens thrashed the Raiders in a game that featured some depth from Cameron’s playbook. Offensively, the team now has 3 new weapons, Smith and Flacco in our version of slash packages, Ray Rice as the reincarnation of Joe Washington, and Haloti Ngata as the most dominating blocking tight end I’ve ever witnessed.
Defensively, the team remains shaky in the secondary, but was able to address much of that weakness by harrasing Russell and continuing to play outstanding run defense. First, the stats:
Overall: 56 plays, 234 yards, 4.2 YPPA
Best: Pryce 39/135, 3.5 YPPA, Ivy 23/44, 1.9 YPPA, McClain 6/7, 1.2 YPPA
Worst: Bannan 28/174, 6.2 YPPA
Vs. the Run: 19 carries, 47 yards, 2.5 YPC
Best: Pryce 13/29, 2.2 YPC, Bannan 13/30, 2.3 YPC, and Ngata 15/34, 2.3 YPC were all excellent
Worst: Everyone else with more than 6 running plays was 2.5 YPC. Great day against the run.
Vs. the Pass: 37 pass plays, 187 net yards, 5.1 YPP
Best: Pryce 26/106, 4.1 YPP, Barnes 8/27, 3.4 YPP, McClain 5/4, 0.8 YPP
Worst: Bannan 15/144, 9.6 YPP, Douglas 11/81, 7.4 YPP
By number of Pass Rushers:
3: 2/9, 4.5 YPP
4: 13/84, 6.5 YPP, 1 sack, 1 TO
5: 17/78, 4.6 YPP, 3 sacks
6: 4/16, 4.0 YPP
7: 1/0, 0.0 YPP
By number of Defensive Backs:
3: 1 plays, 0 yard, 0.0 YPPA (1 goal line alignment that went incomplete)
4: 34 plays, 189 yards, 5.6 YPPA, 2 sacks, 1 TO
5: 18 plays, 31 yards, 1.7 YPPA, 2 sacks
6: No plays
7: 3 plays, 14 yards, 4.7 YPPA (Each of these were failed 3rd and 4th down conversions for the 2nd straight week)
· Ngata had a fine game, registering his first sack and one other jarring hit on Russell (Q4, 4:55) as well as 3 tackles. Ngata’s 8-yard sack was the shortest of 4 registered by the Ravens. His play at TE in goal line formations was spectacular. It’s pretty clear from just those plays that he could help the Ravens offensively in any short-yardage situation. I’ll discuss block quality in my O-line article later this week, but he is something special. Should the Ravens use him that way? If there was a specific maximum number of plays Haloti could play per game, it should be clear that getting 1st downs on 3rd and 1 or 2 is more important than the least important situation you might want him in defensively (he plays a lot of 3rd and long and 2nd and long plays where I don’t think he’s helping the team much). Is the risk of injury higher playing an unfamiliar position? I think this might be true of the running start pass rush employed last season, but I don’t think you see many injuries in goal line blocking situations. If this is something he wants to do, I’m sure he’ll do it well, and I’d like to see him used regularly in the role. I’ll go on record now that I think it would be a bad idea for him to run the ball, since I think that would entail increased injury risk.
· The Ravens registered their 8th straight game of 58 or less (excludes penalties, kneels, spikes) defensive snaps, with a 56-play effort Sunday. As I mentioned last week, they had held opponents to less than 61 snaps just twice in 9 weeks prior to last year’s Pittsburgh finale. I don’t have a better context for the streak, but it’s a measure of both offensive and defensive effectiveness. The 2000 Ravens allowed fewer than 60 plays in 12 of 16 games, but their 4 misses were all 67+ (including a whopping 91 plays allowed to the Jets).
· There are certain things about football that are very difficult to research, but I have no doubt we saw an NFL first on Sunday. Jameel McClain’s sack of Russell for a safety came on the first defensive snap of his NFL career. He would play 5 more snaps. Let’s review them all for fun:
· Q1 10:37, 3/7, Oak 10 — McClain lined up left of Pryce with Russell in the shotgun flanked to either side. Pryce made an inside move on the RG while RT Cornel Green (#74) turned to McClain while Fargas stepped up to block Scott. McClain got his pad under Green’s right shoulder, planted his left foot, and was by as Green futilely attempted to push him wide. Russell saw Suggs in his headlights, but McClain got there a split second earlier to record the historic sack 5 yards deep in the end zone.
· Q1 6:57, 3/11, Oak 25 — The Ravens lined up with Pryce in a slant nose, Suggs at LDE, and Scott left of Suggs on the LoS. McClain stood left of Ray Lewis, behind Pryce. The RG committed inside to double Pryce and Green squared off against Suggs, leaving McClain free to slide through the B gap and pursue the play. Russell handed off to Fargas who ran left, but the unblocked McClain was first to get to Fargas as Miller had a handful of Johnson’s facemask on the OLS. McClain made the tackle for a 3-yard gain and Wilcott tellustrated the play. 2 NFL snaps, 2 tackles. Not bad for a guy who had not even registered a special teams tackle in 6 previous games.
· Q4 7:32, 3/13, Bal 33 — With Johnson, Pryce, Ngata and Suggs (from LDE to RDE) as down linemen, Reed creeped to the LoS left of Johnson, showing blitz. At the snap, Lewis, and McClain, who set up right of Lewis both blitzed as the Ravens appeared to bring 7. However, both Suggs and Johnson backpedaled into coverage after a step or 2 and McClain was doubled by the LT and LG. That double allowed Ngata direct access to Russell who he took down on a very fast-developing play. It was like looking into 2006.
· Q4 3:28, 1/10, Oak 28 — Suggs, Ngata, and Pryce were down. Johnson lined up between Suggs and Ngata, but dropped to cover the tight end. McClain lined up right of Pryce and rushed, but was blocked outside effectively by Bush, opening a passing lane for Russell to complete a 13-yard pass to
· Q4 3:24, 1/10, Oak 41 — Johnson, Ngata, and Pryce were down with Scott then McClain to the right of Pryce. The Ravens rushed 7 with Scott dropping to cover the TE. McClain was again blocked by Bush, but Russell threw incomplete to the right side as the pocket was collapsing.
· Q4 2:14, 4/3, Oak Bal 29 — The Ravens again had 4 down, Johnson, Pryce, Ngata, and Suggs from LDE to RDE. Lewis, McClain, and Reed all blitzed as Johnson put his hands on the RT, then pushed back into coverage. McClain had a free run at Russell, but got there a moment late as the QB whistled the ball through Johnson’s hands (I am still not sure how JJ did not deflect the ball) to Higgins for a 9-yard gain.
· McClain would add 2 special teams tackles, giving him 4 total for the game. I’d say he already is taking some of Barnes’ playing time and should continue to do so.
· The Ravens had 1 sack in 13 tries with 4-man pressure, only their second in the last 66 such pass rushes. Russell was clearly bothered by the pressure and I was surprised the Ravens did not try to rush 6+ more often.
· The Ravens 3 biggest defensive plays:
· McClain’s safety
· The Ravens general secondary play on 4/21 (Q4, 6:54). The Ravens rushed just 3 and Russell wandered through the pocket for 8 seconds before throwing incomplete far out of bounds. By this point, the Ravens were clearly in his head if he was unable to find a viable target before throwing or taking the sack on his team’s final chance. Sometimes when that cliché of an internal alarm clock goes off, the QB needs to hit snooze.
· Suggs’ opening-drive sack (Q1, 14:17). He took down the gigantic Russell for a 13-yard loss with 1 arm on his jersey and it set the tone for a big day.
Photo by Rick Noppenberger