Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Texans

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Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Texans 12/13/10

This is a fairly mediocre defense to make look good.

Case in point, Bernard Pollard.  He’s not just an average NFL safety, he’s one of the worst.  According to PFF he’s been personally beaten for 6 TDs and opposing QBs had a rating of 119.8 throwing at him.  He’d been used occasionally as a pass rusher piling up totals of 1 sack, 1 QH and 1 pressure for the season.  However, with use that depended primarily on scheme, he turned into Superman on Monday night registering 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a tackle for loss, and a PD.  This wasn’t a case where a player was too much for the Ravens to handle physically.

By contrast, Mario Williams was completely shut down on Monday.  He did not register a single defensive statistic despite starting at RDE.  I saw him taking treatment on the sidelines, but don’t have a snap count for him.

The Ravens had 62 offensive snaps:

Oher:  Regardless of Michael’s relative value as a LT, there is still evidence that he looks like a ballplayer.  He had 2 exceptional blocks on 1 play (Q2, 7:59 to spring Rice for a 16-yard run.  Oher first blocked inside to push Antonio Smith wide of the play.  He then turned and sealed Brian Cushing to the outside as Rice ran through the B gap.  I scored him as missing 2 run blocks on the night.  He pulled in front of Rice (OT, 14:15), but missed Pollard who took down Rice for a loss of 1.  On the last play of regulation, he allowed Antonio Smith to circle him and make the tackle on Rice.  His false start was a simple flinch, not a case where he beat the snap.  He appeared to be responsible for Pollard on his sack/strip (Q2, 1:49), but was extremely slow to react.  That wasn’t ideal, but his fumble recovery was one of the game’s big hidden plays as Flacco threw a 26-yard TD to Mason on the next snap.   Scoring:  57 blocks, 1 missed, 1.5 pressures, 1 QH, 1 sack, 1 false start, 42 points (.68 per play).  If you don’t think Oher was to blame for Pollard’s sack/FF, then his score would have been .79 per play.

Grubbs:  Ben’s long successful run of pulling ended on Monday when he failed to find a block on 3 of 6 attempts.  He also had a difficult game in pass protection with parts of 5 pass rush events.  Antonio Smith, Amobi Okoye, and Brian Cushing all contributed to that total.  He made 3 blocks in level 2.  Scoring:  51 blocks, 6 missed, 2 pressures, 1 and 1/3 QH, ¼ sack, 41.5 points (.67 per play).

Birk:  Matt has not been playing as well in the stretch.  He again allowed parts of 3 pass rush events on Monday night.  That’s not good, but he also missed 5 run blocks in a single game.  For a center, that’s unacceptable.  He had 3 blocks in level 2 and 1 pancake.  Scoring:  53 blocks, 6 missed, 1/2 pressure, 1/3 QH, ¼ sack, 49.5 points (.80 per play).

Yanda:  Marshal shared Anderson’s sack on the Ravens’ last offensive play (OT, 12:41).  He also missed his screen block (Q2, 2:00) which resulted in a 1-yard loss for Rice.  I scored him for just 2 missed run blocks.  He connected on 4 of 5 pulls and made 3 blocks in level 2.  Scoring:  55 blocks, 1.5 pressures, 1/2 sack, 49 points (.79 per play).

Cousins:  He allowed a penetration to Cushing (Q4, 5:09) that resulted in a 1-yard loss by Rice, but otherwise all his negative plays came in pass protection.  Nonetheless, he was .64 on 25 running plays.  Scoring:  51 blocks, 6 missed, 3 penetration/pressure, 1 QH, ½ sack, 39 points (.63 per play).  Now that’s consistency.

Chester:   Chris lost his starting job to Marshal Yanda who was replaced at RT by Cousins.  He nonetheless was used in a number of 6-man line formations.  He did not run any pass routes.  Scoring:  12 blocks, 2 missed, ¼ sack, 10.5 points (.70 per play).

Moll:  Scoring:  2 blocks (1.00 per play).  The insertion of Moll as the 7th lineman for consecutive goal-line snaps may mark the official end of Ngata’s career as an offensive lineman.

Other Offensive Notes:

·         It’s certainly possible Cousins can help the team, but the change at RG/RT was still a little surprising.  It was a well-kept secret leading up to the game, which is a nice twist to apply to a team coming off a game the previous Thursday.  It would be nice to report either that Yanda’s return to guard sparked the running game to a big day or that the combination of Cousins and Yanda provided better pass protection on the right side.  Unfortunately, neither would be accurate.

·         One major topic of discussion seems to be the decision to pass on 3rd and 2 (Q4, 2:58).  The Texans did a good job defending the play, which made it look bad, but that was one of a number of key choke points that could have ended the game.  Beginning with the previous drive:

·         The Texans could have been stopped on 4th and 2 (Q4, 7:48) at the Ravens 35

·         They could have been stopped on 4th and 5 at the Ravens 7 (Q4, 6:05)

·         The Ravens could have converted on 3rd and 2 (Q4, 2:58)

·         How about a stop on 4th and 1 (Q4, 1:38) at the Houston 30?

·         Or perhaps the 2-point conversion attempt (Q4, 0:29)

A success on any of these plays would have snuffed out the rally, but the Texans kept making play after play.

·         How could the Ravens have given the Texans one more chance to fail?  By going for the first down on 4th and 2.  I’m not going to say the Ravens should have run the ball on 3rd and 2, because Houston was clearly selling out with man coverage and a run blitz, but another attempt to throw for the first down would have allowed the Ravens another chance to end the game.  They might have had a 50% chance to make it and the ancillary gain from giving the Texans 56 yards to travel instead of 95 is that the defense would not have to stay on the field as long, nor become as tired.  That would have put them in a better position both to defend the short end of the field and defend the 2-point conversion.  They might have also conserved some time to drive for a winning FG in regulation with a Texans score/conversion.

·         When we arrived at our seats, we were thrilled to see Le’Ron McClain walking the sideline.  The Ravens missed his presence as a blocker against the Steelers.  Unfortunately, McClain didn’t have a good game as a pass blocker, allowing 2 sacks personally.

·         For the game, the Ravens used 34 set and 9 chip blockers (1.13 eligible receivers blocking per drop back).  That’s nearly an extra blocker every 4 plays more than against the Steelers.  Chester played 15 non-penalty snaps as a TE, of which 8 were pass plays.  He is treated as a set-blocking TE on each of those 8. 

·         The Ravens ran unbalanced on 3 plays, twice right and once left.  Those were all runs and netted 7 yards.

·         The Ravens had little success with max-protect packages.  Only once did they run a true 2-man pattern (3 set blockers) and that was completed to Mason for 13 yards (Q4, 5:50) against an 8-man pass rush, but on 4 other occasions they kept in 2 set blockers and had 1 chip (3 incompletes and a sack for -9).

·         The Texans abandoned more traditional coverage schemes for a series of blitzes beginning with the Mason completion (Q4, 5:50).  For that and the remaining pass plays for the game, they rushed 8, 7, 6, 5, 5, 6, 4, and 5 respectively.

·         Flacco had ample time and space (ATS) on 14 of 38 drop backs (37%).  On those 14 plays, Joe completed 7 of 14 passes for 115 yards (8.2 YPP) and the 26-yard TD to Mason (Q2, 1:43).  If you’ve been following this for a while, you know 8.2 YPP under those favorable conditions isn’t very good, but had Mason not dropped the early bomb, he would have been approximately 12 YPP.  Joe had ATS just 3 times after halftime.

·         Flacco didn’t have any really big plays without ATS.  His long was 17 on the screen to McClain (Q1, 5:45).  However, he completed 15 of 19 without ATS for 120 yards.  Factor in the 5 sacks for 45 and that becomes 24 plays for 75 net yards (3.1 YPP).  In this game, none of the sacks were a result of Flacco holding the ball for too long.  I thought he did a fine job given the pressure and threw as well as he has in some time on the run.

·         The OT punt was reminiscent of the NE overtime game.  Anderson’s 11-yard sack of Flacco left the Ravens with 4th and 21 from their own 30.  Enter Sam Koch.  He booted a 58-yard bomb that was fielded by Jones at the 12 and returned for -3 yards to the 9.  The Ravens had, of course, given up 2 straight drives of 95+ yards, but those were both 4-down affairs.  Wilson sent the crowd home unhappy just 2 plays later.

·         Cundiff had 3 more touchbacks, bringing his season total to 37.  That’s 3 shy of Mitch Berger’s NFL record and just under 60% of his kicks.  I wish there were some good statistics on injury percentage by special teams play.  It once seemed that injuries were almost as common as flags on special teams.  In any case, Cundiff has significantly reduced the risk of such injuries by his unreturned kicks. 


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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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