The Giants shut down the Ravens running game save for Flacco and Clayton. It was not, however, a game where Flacco was pressured excessively. He was sacked once late and knocked down just 2 other times. What the Giants did very well was to stuff the gaps quickly on virtually every run by a back. This is exactly the sort of game where the scoring system I use will not reflect the overall contribution of the individual linemen well. My system grades pass blocking well, but it does not capture the quality of run blocks, so a lot is missed about the amount of push. Other good news for the line in general:
· The team allowed 2 QH’s aside from the sack and neither was an issue with the pass protection from the line
· They had 4 plays for a loss, but 1 was a naked pitch, on another Rice fell down, and they had 2 stuffs for -1, none of which resulted in negative points for penetration
· They were penalized just twice (Terry’s false start, Cousin’s hold)
The net effect of all this is that the scores you see below will be higher than you’d expect.
As an aside, if anyone would like to create a model that grades run blocking, I’d be happy to discuss it and set it up in a spreadsheet if you’ll share the data. You’d probably have to spend about 3-4 hours per week grading the Ravens offensive plays, but I guarantee you’ll see things you’ve never seen before merely by going through the practice.
Gaither: The biggest news from the Giants game was not the loss itself, which was the game the Ravens were least likely to win on their schedule, but the injury to Jared Gaither. He had again played well, making his first 16 blocks successfully before being hurt on Clayton’s 17-yard double reverse (Q2, 7:14). On the play he was convoying behind Clayton near the right sideline and was pushed to the ground by journeyman linebacker Danny Clark. He fell on his right arm and it was apparent on the very next play that he was playing only with his left. He nonetheless stayed in the game until he missed 4 of 8 blocks in the late 3rd/ early 4th quarter. It was after that 8-play stretch that he was finally replaced by Cousins. Pre-injury, he pulled once and also had a L2 block, but had no mobile blocks after the injury. Post-injury, he was adequate as a pass blocker, allowing no sacks or QH’s personally, but Cameron had extra help on his side, and he lost any ability to push effectively on the run. Scoring: 42/46 blocks, 4 missed, 42 points (.91 per play).
Grubbs: Ben played his best game in several weeks, particularly in pass protection. He pulled 7 times and found a block on each of those. Grubbs is often assigned to pull on pass plays when the line is unbalanced left. That means he crosses over center and must block the DE or OLB. It’s a tough assignment, but he’s been pretty good at it and I would say subjectively, the Ravens have created a lot of pocket time for Flacco on such plays. Grubbs had 4 level 2 blocks. While he had some mobility, his run blocking wasn’t great and I’d say some of that was a function of having to cover for Gaither after his injury. If you are looking for a player that now has a reasonable chance to step up in Gaither’s absence, it’s Grubbs. Brown continues to be the line anchor while Grubbs is talented, but inconsistent. I can’t honestly see a big positive surprise coming from either tackle spot or Chester. Scoring: 56/59 blocks, 56 points (.95 per play)
Brown: He has been by far the Ravens most consistent lineman (and maybe player). He’s a good decision maker when it comes to slipping off a double to look for a level 2 block. Against the Giants he was not used to pull and registered just 4 blocks in level 2, which is low mobility and another indicator that the Giants were effectively stuffing the LoS. He found a man to hit on all but 1 play, but unfortunately for the Ravens, he often had more than 1 to choose from. Scoring 58/59 blocks, 58 points (.98 per play)
Chester: The Ravens were generally successful pass blocking Sunday, particularly considering the Giants had 30 sacks in 9 games coming in. Of the starters, Chester was the weak link in pass blocking, allowing more than the ordinary pocket push. Nonetheless, he did not commit a significant mistake in pass blocking and was not penalized. I really don’t know how the Ravens will game plan for the Eagles, but from experience it is unusual that a mismatch this extreme in terms of sack potential actually results in a big sack game. That’s probably a function of the fact that the endangered team plans entirely around preventing sacks. I’d expect the Ravens will combine screens, quick hitting downhill runs, 3-step drops, and max-protect packages with delayed releases to frustrate the Eagles very formidable rush. Chester also had poor mobility numbers, pulling 3 times successfully in 5 attempts and registering 3 level 2 blocks. Scoring: 53/59 blocks (.90 per play)
Terry: Adam actually missed just 3 plays. He, like Anderson, is a decent positional run blocker, but neither generates the kind of push Gaither did. 50/56 blocks, 1 false start, 47 points (.84 per play).
Hale: Replaced Terry for 3 plays, made 2 blocks, and returned to the Lonely Mountain…I mean the sideline.
Cousins: His technique is unpolished, but it also appears Cousins has arms that are too short to pass block effectively in the NFL. He committed a holding penalty and allowed a sack in just 13 plays. I’m not giving up on him, but he looks to be a project for the interior line and not a legitimate swingman. Scoring 11/12 blocks, 1 missed, 1 sack, 1 holding, -1 point (-.08 per play)
· Ngata did not see an offensive snap
· The Ravens ran unbalanced 6 times for 41 yards (6.8 YPPA)