One comment I see regularly is that the Ravens give up on Rice and the run game too quickly.
Sunday’s game provided clear evidence that the success the Ravens have running comes in 2-back sets with Vonta Leach in the I or offset-I formation. Leach had an outstanding game as a run blocker, for which I’d like to provide play-by-play detail in another piece.
On 6 occasions that I counted the Browns linebackers and secondary actively chose to avoid contact with Leach by going down. Most of his blocks moved or flattened his opponent, but that will be reviewed separately.
Summarizing Sunday’s results:
- Runs with Leach in: 7, 0, 11, 4, 8, 9, 9, 3, 3, 5, 3, 6, 12, 4, 0, 1, 0, 0, 2, 10, 10, -2, 3, 2, 5, 3, 1, 2 (28 for 121, 4.3 YPC, includes 2 carries by Leach)
- Runs without Leach: 2, 1, 3, 4, 1, 0, 2, 4 (8 for 17, 2.1 YPC)
Does Leach’s presence in the lineup reduce the Ravens’ passing or no-huddle options? I don’t believe so, but it’s a different set of options. While it’s true that he’s an eligible receiver who does not pose a big-play threat, he’s far and away the Ravens’ best skill-position blocker (run or pass). That gives the Ravens some options to create additional time and space for Flacco, because his presence helps sell the run when the Ravens run a boot or other play-action pass.
The Ravens had 61 snaps (excluding 1 kneel) versus the Browns, their highest total since week 4 versus Cleveland.
Oher: Michael was called for a ticky-tack holding penalty (Q3, 12:57) and continued the recent alarming rate of pressure allowed. He was pushed across the pocket by Parker (Q2, 6:35). He was bulled by Parker, who got a hand on Flacco (Q2, 1:16). He was bulled again by Parker on Flacco’s incomplete deep left (Q3, 14:13). He was responsible for half of the sack split by Parker and Sheard when he was again bulled by Parker (who seems to have determined Oher’s weakness, Q3, 8:56). Scoring: 51 blocks, 5 missed,0.5 penetration, 3 pressures, 0.5 sack, 1 holding penalty, 35 points (.57 per play). F. Without the holding call, his score would have been .67, which would rate a D. He’s been one of the weakest LTs in the AFC this season.
Williams: On a positive note, Williams had his first outstanding game as a Raven. Truth be told, it was his first decent game. Of his missed blocks, 2 came in level 2, but he made 11 successful blocks there, a fine percentage. He also converted on all 4 of his pulls. Given the ankle injury, that mobility is especially encouraging. He generated significant push on both Billy Winn and John Hughes and was one of the beneficiaries of the absence of Ahtyba Rubin. Equally impressive was his pass blocking. Bobby missed just one block (a whiff on Rucker) while converting 24 other pass blocks, including 3 pulls. Scoring: 57 blocks, 4 missed,0.5 false start, 55.5 points (.91 per play). A-. The Ravens will need to find some as-yet-unexpected contributions to make a playoff push this season and Williams would be a fine start.
Birk: He’s looked slow and is missing too often in level 2 (4 of 9 on Sunday). He shared a penetration with Oher when he was bulled by Hughes to help blow up Pierce’s run left (Q4, 5:58). Scoring: 55 blocks, 5 missed, 0.5 penetration, 54 points (.89 per play). B. This is a case where I don’t believe his personal effort was as good subjectively as the score, but he deserves some credit for handling the blocking assignments in a game where Flacco was knocked down (sack or QH) just once.
Yanda: Marshal was mischarged with false start penalty (Q4, 3:50) which resulted from early movement from both Osemele and Williams. In fact, he’s the only one that didn’t move. Yanda missed 4 snaps on the Ravens’ 2nd drive after he got flipped after his leg was lifted by Phil Taylor. The Cleveland Plain Dealer described the Browns as getting the best of the physical battle with the Ravens, but I think the best way to determine that is to look for the team that is upset at the end of each play. Particularly with the game winding down, that was the Browns, who obviously thought the Ravens were being too physical. Yanda’s only error in pass blocking was a pressure surrendered when he was bulled by Taylor (Q3, 11:09) as Flacco short-armed a pass to the right sideline incomplete for Smith. Scoring: 52 blocks, 5 missed, 1 pressure, 50 points (.88 per play). B+.
Osemele: Kelechi shared a sack with Oher (Q3, 8:56) when he was beaten outside by Sheard. He was bulled by Sheard for another pressure (Q4, 14:11). In the run game, he delivered 6 level 2 blocks and 5 pancakes. He connected on all 3 pulls. However, he missed 4 cut blocks among 10 total misses for the day, which put a big dent in his score. He missed cuts twice on Taylor who seemed to be equally nimble making others miss. When zone blocking left, the Ravens preferred side because of the boot option, the RT does not always get a clean blocking opportunity, so a cut block attempt may be the best option. Scoring: 49 blocks, 10 missed, 1 pressures, 0.5 sack, 0.5 false start, 42.5 points (.70 per play). C (with some extra credit for having to block Sheard on most pass plays and Taylor on many run plays.)
Reid: Jah made his 2012 debut and made 6 of 8 blocks including 2 in level 2. I think he may get some tackle and 6-man reps against Oakland (see McKinnie below), but I would not expect he’ll take any starting spot this season. Scoring: 6 blocks, 2 missed, 6 points (.75 per play).
Other offensive notes:
- Flacco had ATS on 15 of 25 attempts vs. the Browns (60%). With ATS he was 11/15 for 144 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT (9.6 YPP). The Browns surrendered ATS to Flacco on his first 7 attempts, all of which were completed for 97 yards.
- The Browns used primarily a vanilla 4-man rush from their 4-3. They rushed 4 on 19 of the Ravens’ 25 pass plays. They also allowed ATS once each with a 7 and 6-man rush. The Browns only registered 1 sack and no other QHs, which was the Ravens’ best protection performance this season.
- Without ATS, Flacco completed 4 of 9 passes for 9 yards (1 yard net) with 1 sack for 8 yards, 0/0 TD/INT (0.1 YPP). That YPP is his lowest this season and his 4th lowest since I started collecting such information in 2010. He had -1.6 YPP in San Diego last season.
- The Ravens ran 4 plays with a 6-man line that included Reid inserted as an eligible receiver. The Ravens have undergone an extreme migration away from both jumbo and unbalanced formations over the last 4 years.
- What does Reid’s insertion mean to McKinnie, who did not have any snaps? I don’t suspect it means much. The Ravens appear committed to avoid paying the bonus dollars to McKinnie, which may be a function of 2013 cap implications. If one thought McKinnie was the optimal choice at LT, and his bonus would be triggered by playing half of the team’s offensive snaps, the most cap-efficient choice might be to minimize his snaps now before reinserting him for the bulk of the last 7 games. Given the play of Oher to date, it would not surprise me if McKinnie were to return to left tackle for the game at Pittsburgh. However, the situation became more complicated Sunday with Williams’ fine game.