FILMSTUDY: Return of the Pass Rush

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Return of the Pass Rush

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Like most of us, I love a defensive laugher, but this was something special.  The Ravens dialed up all so many different pressure schemes in this game I felt like it was 2006 again.

Ryan’s defenses were defined by the gambling schemes he would apply with the pass rush.  The 2006 season was the finest with 3 legitimate pass rush threats (Pryce, Thomas, and Suggs) supplemented by the opportunistic Bart Scott, and complementary pass rushers who either demanded attention (Ngata) or created distraction (Johnson).  Ryan would rush any of his 11 with a mess of pre-snap movement and a plethora of different schemes.  It was fun to watch. 

On Saturday, we may have got a glimpse of the identity of the 2010 Ravens.  A few notes:

·         The Ravens rushed between 3 and 7 on each pass play.

·         They rushed 3 men 11 times by my count and 7 just once (on the Redskins final offensive play).

·         At least 8 times, the Ravens dropped 2 to coverage from the LoS.

·         A number of players saw time both on the inside and outside, including Redding, Pryce, Ngata, Kruger, Talavou, Divens, and Arthur Jones.

·         In addition to 4 sacks, the Ravens registered 7 QHs, forced an intentional grounding, and batted down a ball at the LoS.  That said, they failed to convert several sacks.

·         After converting 3 straight 3rd downs on their opening drive, the Redskins converted just 1 of their last 10 3rd-down opportunities.

·         The Redskins showed very little desire to use much in the way of chip or set blocking which turned much of the 2nd half into a high-stakes crapshoot.  With all 4 turnovers (3 in the 2nd half) coming on the Redskins 51 passing plays, the Ravens clearly won the overall gamble, but here are the Ravens individual 6-man rushes in the 2nd half:

o    (Q3, 2:39) Grossman complete to Williams for 23 yards

o    (Q3, 1:03) Phillips QH, ball batted down by Gooden

o    (Q3, 0:59) Phillips Sack, FF, FR with all 11 defenders lined up within 6 yards of the LoS and 10 within 3 yards.

o    (Q4, 5:08) Good pressure caused Grossman to throw the ball away, but Hawkins was flagged for illegal contact after slipping.

o    (Q4, 4:17) Jones, Phillips, and Ellerbe pressured Grossman to roll right and his throw was intercepted by Hamlin

o    (Q4, 0:21) Burgess sack, FF recovered by Phillips on the Ravens lone 7-man pass rush

Will the Ravens face a weak QB and a scrub offensive line every week?  No, but the hallmark of the Harbaugh era is that this team never loses to a bad team and it’s nice to have a reaffirmation.  It was a simple, brutal, and remorseless beating.

Let me start by defining the scoring system (better than I have previously).  The weekly ratings are from +3 to -3 and represent a change in my expectations of the player’s impact on the 2010 Ravens.  Many of the more analytic among you will say “I didn’t know your starting expectations, so why does this matter to me?”  That’s a good question to which I can only respond that the comments are more important and that some folks just like to have a score that rates how much progress I think the player made this week.  I have included the scores in the format (this week’s rating/total for preseason).

I don’t bother rating players whose role is known and secure.  This is intended for players for whom we are not clear if they’ll make the team or what their role will be.

Notes and ratings for the defense only:

Barnes (-1/+2):  After a terrific opener, Barnes did nothing to impress on Saturday.  He was on the field for a number of plays, primarily as a down lineman.  He dropped to coverage frequently and his only recorded defensive statistic was a phantom tackle of Larry Johnson which should have been ruled a fumble due to the lack of contact.  He did contribute 2 special teams tackles.

Burgess (+1/+3):  He led the team in tackles and registered 2 sacks, but he had trouble finding the ball in the air and staying with his receivers in coverage.  With all of the Ravens depth at LB, I think he is still on the bubble.

Cody (+1/+4):  If you went to Saturday’s game, you may someday tell someone you were there for the first time Ngata and Cody lined up together (Q1, 3:27).  Your buddies will know better than to believe both were double teamed while some other Raven got the sack.  In point of fact, each was singled while Redding drew the double from the RG/RT.  Dockery cut Ngata who got up and applied pressure.  Cody pushed Rabach back some, but did not impact McNabb.  Suggs got a hand on McNabb, but he was able to maintain control and throw to Johnson who bobbled the ball for several yards before it fell incomplete.  The Ravens are a different team entirely versus the run with Cody on the field.  The Redskins had only 2 good runs all day.  At (Q1, 2:04), Redding, Kruger, and Suggs were down as Portis ran right for 9 yards through Redding’s missed tackle.  They also overran the Ravens line for 7 yards when Cody left for a breather (Q3, 2:18).  Talavou, Kruger, and Edgar Jones were in a 3-point stance on that play.  

Dutch (-2/-1):  He was very soft in coverage and missed a tackle (Q4, 6:25) leading to a 37-yard gain.  Stranger things have certainly happened, but I’d be very surprised if he made the team.

Ellerbe (+1/0):  He applied consistent pressure all night.  That intentional grounding is just as good as a sack and more importantly was registered against 1st-team opposition.

Fisher (-2/-3):  He was beaten by Armstrong for 45 yards despite McNabb’s underthrow (Q1, 11:33).  Landry deserves a share of the blame on that one, but Armstrong again beat Fisher (Q2, 8:56) only to be bailed out by McNabb’s overthrow.  He had loose coverage of Thomas (Q2, 0:27) at a time in the game and position on the field where it didn’t make a lot of sense, but was again bailed out by McNabb’s off-target throw.

Gooden (0/0):  I have ongoing concerns about his durability, but at this point, his bigger problem is that other linebackers are making plays.  He had a PD, but just 1 tackle (plus another on special teams).  He’s got some speed and should be able to cover, but he was cleared out easily on one completion (Q2, 0:39) and lost his man on another (Q1, 13:02).  Some of his physical tools need to be more directly applicable to the game.

Hamelin (+2/+2):  He did a little bit of everything again, culminating with his diving interception (Q4, 4:17).  When the Ravens went to the 6-man pass rush in the 2nd half, Hamlin was key to guarding the oulet receivers McNabb had used effectively in the first half.

Hawkins (-1/-2):  He looked like he’d just lost his dog after the illegal contact penalty nullified the Ravens fine pressure (Q4, 5:08).  Unlike the linebacker competition however, someone is going to win a spot by having the fewest demerits.

Edgar Jones (-2/-4):  He was used primarily as a down lineman.  He missed a sack (Q4, 8:00), didn’t look good in coverage, and didn’t record a single defensive statistic despite extensive playing time.  I’ve always liked his effort and versatility, but he may be looking for another team soon.

Arthur Jones (-1/-1):  He did nothing to impress in reatively limited playing time (perhaps 10 4th-quarter snaps).  Maybe that’s because he’s not healthy and needs a trip to IR to cure his Amoria Phlebitis like Bart Simpson needed a trip to the nurse’s office.

Kruger (-2/0):  He took a step back despite playing extensively at both DT and DE.  Kruger got some pressure and registered a QH, but whiffed on his sack opportunity (Q4, 1:02).  He looked overmatched, even by the Redskins 2’s, against the run.

McClain (0/-2):  Jameel again played extensively and was one of several made to look bad by McNabb’s pressured darts over the middle.  He probably has more defensive versatility than Edgar Jones, but he’s losing the starting ILB battle when it appeared he had the inside track.  I watched Larry Johnson’s bobbled pass (Q1, 3:27) several times and it looks to me as if Jameel was hoping the ball would remain in the air rather than focusing on taking down LJ.  He did a nice job to work free of Trent Williams and pursue to tackle Johnson (Q1, 2:42)

McClellan (-1/-1):  He had some playing time in the 2nd half, often with Edgar Jones as the opposite DE.  If he makes the team, it will be a function of what he can provide in 2011-13.

McKinney (0/0):  The Ravens were effective against the run with him in, but he did not make any significant pass rush contributions.  I’d estimate he played 12-14 snaps Saturday, but he’s a ghost on the stat sheet.

Miller (0/+1):  He stayed out of trouble for the most part which is good for the competition for spots at corner.  He didn’t have good position on Armstrong (Q1, 10:09), but the ball was thrown behind and Washington got the PD.

Nakamura (no rating):  He’ll obviously make the team and is currently the Ravens leading rusher this preseason (51 yards to Curtis Steele’s 45).

Phillips (+3/+5):  In looking at the stat sheet, I’m amazed he only had 2 tackles.  One of those came in pursuit of Davis after Dutch’s missed tackle (Q4, 6:25).  The other was his sack/FF/FR.  I haven’t seen enough of him in coverage to know if he could be of help there, but it will be interesting to see if he gets some time with the first team in the 3rd game.

Redding (0/0):  He played longer in game 2 with his last snap being the Skins’ last of the half.  He missed a tackle as mentioned above, which led to the Redskins’ longest run of the night.  He’s probably one where I should explain that I don’t have tremendously high expectations.  He’ll be 30 in November and the best thing I can say about him is that he’s been a pretty good player for some pretty lousy teams.  I’d love to be proved wrong.

Talavou (0/+1):  He didn’t generate nearly as much pressure as in game 1, but I think he is ahead of Divens and probably McKinney at this point.

Cary Williams (0/+3):  He was one of the Ravens’ stars in the first game, but he had an up-and-down follow up.  His interception (Q2, 10:47) put his good ball skills on display again as he timed his move inside and may have considered the help that was arriving.  However, he had soft coverage on Williams down the left sideline (Q2, 3:12) and was the beneficiary of another poor throw.  Armstrong beat him badly on a slant (Q2, 0:34) and he again had soft coverage against the slant 2 plays later (Q2, 0:25).  With all that, he’s still the Ravens best corner now.

Zbikowski (no rating):  The Ravens appear to have some options at safety now, even if Reed does not return.  The team has also carried 5 safeties before and may do so again at some point this season.

 

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time. If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens. More from Ken McKusick

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