The national health care debate wages on, but the Ravens needed to look no further than across the field to an offensive line facing significant injury concerns. The Chargers employed 2 new starters (Mruczkowski and Dombrowski) and got some playing time from this week’s free agent pickup, D Norman. The new starters had 2 previous career starts, while Norman has 24 starts in 9 NFL seasons. Meanwhile, the Ravens entered the game with 6 quality linemen active and trying to share time.
The Ravens again started Chris Chester at RG and Yanda was used only in jumbo formations.
Despite a game-long run of 13 yards, the Ravens gained 4.4 yards per rush attempt (132/30, excluding their 2 kneels). The team also netted 181 passing yards on 28 pass plays (6.5 YPP). On 28 pass plays, the Ravens allowed 1 sack and 4 QHs, which isn’t bad. On closer inspection, the Chargers got 1 QH on a declined offsides penalty which resulted in a 15-yard gain and another on an overload blitz where every lineman found a block. The line had just 1 penalty (Oher’s false start). The Ravens allowed 3 tackles for loss other than the sack and did not allow a ball to be tipped at the LoS.
If you are interested to see how my scoring system works, please check out the following link:
The Ravens’ 58 non-kneel offensive snaps are included for scoring purposes.
Gaither: Jared had a good game. I did not charge him for English’s QH on the declined offsides penalty. He was, however, beaten by Merriman for the QH that may have caused Flacco’s lone interception (Q4, 11:24). Good player, good anticipation of the snap count. Gaither was otherwise terrific, missing just 3 blocks and registering 5 level 2 blocks. He got terrific run push, particularly on McGahee’s 2nd TD (Q2, 10:56). On consecutive plays on that same drive (beginning with Q2, 14:39) he registered 2 blocks per play. Scoring: 54 blocks, 3 missed, 1 QH, 51 points (.88 per play).
Grubbs: It was another solid effort for Grubbs. He pulled successfully on all 4 attempts and had 2 level 2 blocks. The Ravens failed to pick up Merriman’s stunt (Q2, 6:47) on a play where Grubbs was knocked down. Through the first half, Gaither and Grubbs both got tremendous run push. Grubbs’ only significant error (Q2, 11:51) led to a 1-yard loss by Rice. Thus far, I’d say he’s benefited more than Chester from playing next to Birk. Scoring: 55 blocks, 1 missed, 1 penetration, 1 QH, 50 points (.86 per play). If he continues to play at the level he has in the first 2 games, he’ll deserve consideration for post-season honors.
Birk: Birk was outstanding for the 2nd straight game. One could say he faced marginal competition on Sunday, but for the 2nd straight game he made all but 2 of his blocks and did not have a significant breakdown. He made another 6 blocks in level 2, which led the team. On the replay of Merriman’s fine snap anticipation, it was suggested that the Chargers’ LB was timing the snap off Birk who moved his backside. The timing was so close, I’m sure there must have been some clue. Scoring: 56 blocks, 2 missed, 56 points (.97 per play). He’s scored a .98 and a .97 in his first 2 games. The only Raven to turn in consecutive scores as good in 2008 was Jason Brown on 11/9 and 11/16.
Chester: Chester remains the starter and had another solid game. I charged him with 1.5 pressures that led to incompletes. The first he shared with Yanda (Q3, 13:24) and the second came just 3 plays later (Q3, 12:26) on the same drive. He registered 4 blocks in level 2 and a pancake. He also found a block on 3 of 4 pulls. Scoring: 53 blocks, 3 missed, 1.5 penetrations, 50 points (.86 per play).
Oher: Michael came down to earth in his 2nd game, allowing his first sack and committing a false start. On the sack (Q4, 3:37), Oher blocked inside then realized Castillo had beaten him. I’m actually surprised he doesn’t false start more often. He seems to be consistently the fastest lineman into his stance. He had 2 level 2 blocks, 1 pancake, and made a block on his only pull. Scoring: 53 blocks, 4 missed, 1 sack, 1 false start, 44 points (.76 per play).
Yanda: After 6 plays in week 1, he was in for just 3 snaps in week 2. Scoring: 2 blocks, .5 penetration, 1 point (.33 per play).
Ngata: Haloti did not see action on offense.
· 6-Man: 3 plays, 0 yards. 2 of these plays were unbalanced left formations with Yanda added to the right side. The 3rd had Yanda added to the right side of a balanced formation.
· The Ravens have still not run a play from the Wildcat, although they have lined up Troy Smith as a WR on a couple of plays. When it happens, we’ll no doubt enjoy it, but then question why Cameron felt the need to tip his hand in a game that the Ravens won easily. Remember Oakland last season.
· Once again, the Ravens won without any long plays. Their longest run was 13 yards and their longest pass was 27. Of their 58 plays, 23 went for 6 or more yards. For the season, 40% of their plays have gone for 6+ yards.