The Ravens had a bumpy week 2 defensive performance vs. the Chargers. In particular, they allowed a staggering 10.4 yards per play with 5 or more defensive backs on the field and 11.4 yards per play on the 26 defensive snaps for Brendan Ayanbadejo. Was Brendan directly responsible for the gains of 81, 19, 22, 37, 15, 35, and 38 yards, all of which occurred while he was on the field? No, actually. Through 2 weeks, there had been no attempts to throw a pass to his coverage assignment. Since he is used infrequently to rush the QB, it would be difficult to find fault with his play.
He played 21 snaps (plus 1 penalty) on Sunday vs. the Browns. I logged each one and reviewed:
1. (Q1, 14:21, 2/6). RILB. Pass went left to Edwards (covered by Foxworth 24). Ayanbadejo slid over to make the tackle.
2. (Q1, 13:05, 2/11). Set up in a short middle zone. Quinn scrambled and slid as Suggs and Brendan converged.
3. (Q1, 12:27, 3/4). Lined up at LILB. Covered TE Royal. The pass went left for Edwards and was intercepted by Foxworth.
4. (Q1, 7:46, 3/4). “Rushed” the passer from the offensive right side (ORS). It actually looks like Brendan tried to contain the pocket as he moved forward. When Quinn Stepped up and fell, Ayanbadejo was credited with the sack, arriving just ahead of Suggs. He had a very similar sack vs. Cincinnati last season. From the TV view, it appears Suggs got there a moment earlier, but Suggs was credited with a sack of Greisen’s in 2007, so I suppose his career total is karmically accurate.
5. (Q2, 15:00, 2/11). Lined up at LILB. Ayanbadejo was effectively blocked by Fraley (66) as Harrison ran right by him for 17 yards.
6. (Q2, 13:26, 3/6). Lined up in press coverage on Cribbs in the slot on the OLS. BA bumped Cribbs then rushed the passer and was effectively stood up by Harrison. The pass was thrown incomplete deep left for Cribbs.
7. (Q2, 4:19, 3/7). BA blitzed up the middle but was picked up by Fraley. Quinn threw a screen left to Furrey who was quickly tracked down by Suggs a yard short of a 1st down.
8. (Q2, 0:54, 1/10). LILB. Draw to Harrison ran off the right side. Ayanbadejo was held by TE Heiden (82).
9. (Q2, 0:45, 1/20). LILB. Draw again to Harrison ran right at him for 6 yards. BA made the tackle.
10. (Q2, 0:17, 2/14). LILB. The Browns ran a 3rd straight draw to end the half. The Run again went to BA’s side. This time it was stacked up by Ngata near the LoS and held to a 2-yard gain.
11. (Q3, 10:16, 2/11). Faked a blitz and dropped to a short middle zone. The pass went right to Harrison who was taken down in the open field by JJ for a 4-yard gain.
12. (Q3, 9:33, 3/7). LILB. Covered Furrey and got inside position as Anderson was flushed right from the pocket. DA threw and BA wrestled the ball from Furrey. It was Ayanabdejo’s first interception in 5 years.
13. (Q3, 5:57, 3/16). Lined up in soft coverage of Furrey on the OLS by the number. Furrey got behind BA who appeared to release the deeper receiver to pick up the crossing Massaquoi (11). BA arrived just before Reed to touch up. It was a 22-yard 1st down pickup on 3rd and 16.
14. (Q3, 3:55, 3/5). Dropped off the LoS on the OLS to coverage. The pass went right to Furrey who was covered by Foxworth and Landry.
15. (Q3, 2:07, 3/4). Dropped to cover 84 and maintained tight coverage. The pass went left to Edwards, covered by Foxworth, for 11 yards.
16. (Q3, 0:45, 2/6). LILB at the goal line. Pryce would trip up Anderson for a 6-yard sack as the coverage held. BA was removed for the 3rd and 12 play as the Ravens played 7 DBs.
17. (Q4, 12:04, 1/10). Soft coverage on slot left receiver (Cribbs). The pass went right to Edwards for 18 yards between 4 Ravens (Reed, Foxworth, Carr, Lewis).
18. (Q4, 11:31, 1/10). Dropped off the ORS to a short zone. Anderson dumped off a short pass left to an empty space.
19. (Q4, 11:27, 2/10). RILB. Rushed the passer, but was stood up by Thomas. The pass went right to Royal for 7 yards who was covered by Pryce. BA hustled to make the tackle from behind, but Ngata beat him there.
20. (Q4, 10:42, 3/3). LILB. Pass went left towards Furrey, but Foxworth knocked it down.
21. (Q4, 8:37, 1/10). LILB. BA covered Furrey. The pass went deep middle where it was intercepted by Landry.
22. (Q4, 6:00, 3/14). BA again covered Furrey lined up in the slot left. Again, Massaqoui crossed and BA appeared to release deep to Reed who made the pick. Anderson threw the ball over Ayanbadejo who was almost equidistant from 11 and 87.
Some other observations:
· It was without a doubt Ayanbadejo’s finest defensive game as a Raven. He’s had 3 career starts (2 with Miami, 1 with Chicago), but I think it’s safe to say it was also his best career game. He registered 4 tackles, including a sack, the interception, and depending on your interpretation of Furrey’s 22-yard catch (13 above), he may not have allowed a completion to his assignment. In addition, in just 21 non-penalty snaps, he was on the field for both Ravens’ sacks and all 4 interceptions.
· As an extension from the first 2 weeks and preseason, he continues to be a liability against the run. The Ravens allowed 32 yards on 4 running plays with him in and all 4 of those were run directly at him. He did draw a holding call on a 5th run. Without BA in the game, the Ravens held the Browns to 39 rushing yards on 19 plays.
· He rushed the passer on just 3 of 17 pass plays and got no pressure. He nonetheless picked up the gift sack by touching up the downed Quinn.
· As a coverage linebacker he’s having a terrific season. Virtually every defender came out of the San Diego game with a wart or 2 with the exception of BA. That was by far the most yards per play I’ve ever recorded for someone who had a good game. Sunday he was in the game for virtually every big play the Ravens made.
· With the number of fine QBs the Ravens will face this year, a LB that can cover is going to be a necessity. For that reason, I’d expect he will continue to average 20+ snaps per game.