The Ravens had more than a little success defensively in 2011.
What went right above all else for the 2011 Ravens’ defense was an absence of serious injuries on the defensive line. The Ravens only had 7 players suit up the entire season and none of them played less than 17% of the total snaps. Brandon McKinney was deactivated 5 times (including the AFCC) and Arthur Jones missed 2 games late in the season, but the Ravens otherwise dressed the same 7 men for every game.
The Ravens regained some of their 2006 glory with a 48-sack regular season that included standout performances from Suggs and rookie Pernell McPhee. As a unit, they were the key to a pass-rush scheme that was conservative by number of rushers but delivered top-tier results.
The Ravens were again outstanding defending the run, registering their 16th consecutive season with less than 4.0 YPC (3.6 YPC during the regular season, 3.7 YPC for 18 games, excluding kneels). For the last 8 seasons, Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson have played a big role and developed into the best edge-setting tandem in the NFL. The Ravens have kept a solid stable of interior linemen and backups which is evidenced by the number of defensive linemen that have been filched from the Ravens practice squad over the past decade.
I’ve given each player 3 grades:
- The 2011 Play grade is a representation of how well he played vs. his positional peers last season. It is not a representation of value relative to salary.
- The 2011 Value grade is a representation of the player’s contribution relative to 2011 salary. Great players, at mid career (after signing their first FA contract), will almost never be graded an A in this category since they are typically paid the market price for their services. It’s not a slap in the face to be graded a C here, but the best front offices will have many more As and Bs than Ds and Fs because they consistently uncover value in the draft and sign bargain free agents. A player who does not miss time due to injury, but otherwise performs exactly as might be expected by his contract would be graded a B-.
- The 2011 Developmental grade is an indication of how much the player improved relative to expectation. The primary reason to expect growth (or decline) is age, but injuries (particularly changes to prospective durability), leadership, position changes, etc. were all lumped in this category. Even a 35-year-old gets a developmental grade.
Snap totals and percentages include only non-penalty snaps which were played competitively (excludes kneels and spikes) for both regular and postseason games. The 2011 Ravens had 1,119 such defensive snaps as a unit in 18 games.
Individual Player Comments
2011 Role: Starting 2-down DT/NT (497 snaps, 44%). Cody
What was there to like about his season? Cody played more
When did he play best? In the season’s first 2 games,
When did he play poorly? He got pushed around, primarily by Patriots center Dan Connolly in the AFCC.
What was his signature play of 2011? He was credited with
What does he need to do better? Terrence needs to be able and
Grades: Play C-, Value C+, Developmental: C. The improvement
2011 Role: Rotational 2-down DT/DE (258 snaps, 23%)
What was there to like about his season? Jones dispelled
When did he play best? He contributed to 5 tackles on just 18
When did he play poorly? He didn’t play well in either game
What was his signature play of 2011? He had a terrific 2-play
What does he need to do better? Like many DTs, he needs to
Grades: Play C, Value B-, Developmental: C. He’s fairly
2011 Role: Rotational 2-down NT/DT (190 snaps, 17%). He
What was there to like about his season? Brandon is a solid rotational DT who is a contributor to the Ravens stout run defense.
When did he play best? Versus the Jaguars he had a season-high 4 tackles (1, 2, 1, 1 yards gained) and forced a fumble.
When did he play poorly? He had a missed tackle against the Bengals and otherwise disappeared in week 17, but he didn’t have any awful games.
What was his signature play of 2011? His forced fumble
What does he need to do better? Like Jones, he needs to find a way to make some contribution to the pass rush.
Grades: Play C, Value D, Developmental: C. He’s not a bad
2011 Role: Situational inside pass rusher (DT/DE) primarily used on 3rd down and end-of-half drives (361 snaps, 32%)
What was there to like about his season? As a rookie, he
When did he play best? Against Cincinnati in Baltimore he
made the last 2 plays (a pressure to force an incomplete, then a sack on
4th and 17) to seal a 31-24 win in a critical divisional game. Both
plays came as part of a 3-man pass rush.
When did he play poorly? McPhee disappeared against the
What was his signature play of 2011? His 4th-down sack of Dalton sealed the Ravens’ win over the Bengals in Baltimore.
What does he need to do better? In relatively few
Grades: Play B+, Value A, Developmental A. Either Jimmy
2011 Role: Starting DT/DE (775 snaps, 78%). His percentages
What was there to like about his season? Ngata dominated the
When did he play best? His play against the Steelers in week 1
When did he play poorly? His effectiveness was reduced after
What was his signature play of 2011? His eyes-wide-shut FF/FR on Mendenhall in the opener all but sealed the game for the Ravens.
What does he need to do better? I think the Ravens coaches
Grades: Play A-, Value B-, Developmental B. He didn’t take a
2011 Role: Starting DE (576 snaps, 52%)
What was there to like about his season? Cory’s play improved
When did he play best? He turned in a terrific game on
When did he play poorly? He didn’t play exceptionally poorly
What was his signature play of 2011? He took advantage of
What does he need to do better? It’s not apparent how he
Grades: Play B+, Value B, Developmental: A- He took a step
2011 Role: Starting DE (1,163 snaps, 95%) and AP Defensive Player of the Year.
What was there to like about his season? Suggs found ways to
When did he play best? Several times this season I found
When did he play poorly? He had a difficult game versus Jared
What was his signature play of 2011? His hide-and-go-seek,
What does he need to do better? Nothing specific, but he will have to work his butt off to maintain the same level of play for another season.
Grades: Play A+, Value B+, Developmental A. He could have