FILMSTUDY: Defensive Notes vs. Tennessee 9/18/11

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Defensive Notes vs. Tennessee 9/18/11

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2007 was a miserable year for the Ravens and their fans.  Coming off a 60-sack year in 2006, the Ravens lost Adalius Thomas to free agency and then lost Trevor Pryce to injury.  The secondary was a MASH unit with McAlister and Rolle missing much of the season and unlikely candidates such as Willie Gaston, David Pittman, Derrick Martin, and Corey Ivy forced into starting roles on the outside.  We should have no desire to relive it.

For one game, the 2011 Ravens looked like that team.  The Ravens generated little pressure and were forced to play short-handed both on the defensive line and in the secondary. 

The Ravens had 71 snaps defensively, all of which were competitive:

Overall:

Versus the Run:  29 plays, 74 yards, 2.6 YPC

Versus the Pass:  42 plays, 358 yards, 8.5 YPP

Overall:  71 plays, 432 yards, 6.1 YPPA

By number of defensive backs:

3 DBs:  2 plays, 23 yards, 11.5 YPPA

4 DBs:  38/166, 4.4 YPPA

5 DBs:  29/235, 8.1 YPPA, 1 TO

6 DBs:  2/8, 4.0 YPPA

By number of pass rushers:

3:  5 plays, 27 yards, 5.4 YPP

4:  25/236, 9.4 YPP

5:  6/37, 6.2 YPP, 1 TO

6:  5/54, 10.8 YPP

7:  1/4, 4.0 YPP

Individual Notes:

·         The nickel was ineffective Sunday.  The Ravens played 2 versions of the nickel with Foxworth (21 nickel plus 2 dime snaps) or Pollard (9 snaps) joining the base 4 of Webb/Williams/Reed Zbikowski.  With the Foxworth nickel, the Ravens allowed 188 yards on 21 plays (9.0 per play).  I expect we’ll see more teams line up with 3+ wide until the Ravens prove they can play good defense or force turnovers in the nickel.

·         Foxworth continues to look tentative and slow.  For much of the first half, the Ravens were trying to match up Williams on Britt with Webb on Washington.  Yet on 3rd and 2 from the 4-yard line, the Titans were able to line up Britt right covered by Foxworth.  Britt used his body well to shield Hasselbeck’s TD pass.  Dominique was otherwise beaten by Washington (Q1, 7:34) for 17 (12 + 5 YAC), and Britt (Q4, 3:46) for a 28-yard play on 3rd and 9.

·         Pollard continues to see limited duty (17 snaps, 12.9% over 2 games).  I can’t believe this is the role the team envisioned for him given the salary he is making.  Meanwhile, Zbikowski has played all but 1 snap.

·         After a terrific game in week 1, the 4-man pass rush was wholly ineffective.  The Ravens rushed 4 men on 25 of the Titans’ 42 passing snaps and the Titans gained 9.4 YPP.  Included in that group were plays of 37, 16, 33, 12, 18, 14, 28, and 13 yards.  Part of that was a veteran QB picking on a depleted secondary with a collection of quick passes.  Even some of the deep throws were timing routes lofted without any real opportunity for pressure to develop.  The best example of which is probably the 33-yard completion to Cook (Q2, 4:31).

·         Kruger had a difficult game with 13 snaps and 114 yards allowed (8.8 YPPA) on those plays.  He was sharing time with Foxworth for many of those snaps, but he didn’t create any pressure events and missed a tackle on Mariani (Q3, 0:16).  His miss didn’t cost the Ravens a conversion as Lewis stopped him short for a gain of 5 on 3rd and 8.

·         While the Ravens secondary and pass rush looked very poor, credit must go to Matt Hasselbeck who was far more accurate than the previous week vs. Jacksonville.  In that game he completed just 3 of 10 passes beyond 10 yards.  In addition, while Michael Roos has been in decline, he and David Stewart are effective pass blockers.

·         Terrence Cody played well in 22 snaps until leaving with a concussion on the first drive of Q3.  He had good push and ad 2 tackles.  He fought off Velasco to bring down Ringer for a gain of 1 (Q3, 13:06) and brought down Stevens (Q3, 12:29) on the next play.  Kelly Gregg was an exception, but most NTs don’t make a lot of tackles, even when effective.  I’d cite 2 examples (Q1, 6:59 and Q2, 9:56) where Cody helped set up the play, but didn’t make the stop.  The Titans rushed for 25 yards on 10 carries with Cody on the field.  He deserves much of the credit for Chris Johnson’s lack of success.

·         The loss of Cody left the Ravens short on big men.  Brandon McKinney was inactive, so Jones and Ngata were pressed into more duty inside.  This was particularly evident on the 4th and 1 play on the Titans’ final drive where the Ravens would normally have had an extra big body on the field.  The defensive line was not set as the ball was snapped and Ngata, Redding, and Jones were the down linemen in the middle.  I’m surprised the Titans passed in that situation.

·         Ngata played 64 of 71 snaps.  I have to believe that workload is sub-optimal.  Suggs took off 3 snaps which is more than usual for him, but I would cite both 29 snaps for Jones and 44 for Redding as heavy workloads.

·         The inside linebacker platoon was slanted towards run defense with McClain typically playing 2 downs (40 snaps) and Ayanbadejo seeing action in passing situations (22 snaps).  Ellerbe played just 9 snaps.

·         McClellan played his first 2 NFL snaps on defense.  He was part of the 4-4-3 on each of the 4th and 1 plays.  I’m not sure what qualifies someone as a 4-4-3 specialist (as opposed to, say, inserting both Ellerbe and McClain who has OLB experience), but the Ravens showed this tendency last year as well when Burgess played some OLB snaps in the 4-4-3.  In any case, neither play went well, but both were run to the opposite side from Albert.

·         The play that may have finished the game for the Ravens Sunday was the Suggs PD (Q3, 5:46).  Had the ball been picked, there was a reasonable chance he could have returned it for a game-tying TD.  As it was, the Titans continued a 12-play drive that would end in a FG that extended their lead to 10.

·         Sergio Kindle was again inactive.  He may get a chance to replace Kruger at some point this season.  Some would say a player that is inactive should give back his game check, but I’m sure Kindle can get a payday loan while he’s in Tennessee.

 

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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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