Any Ravens fan fortunate enough to have seen the 2000 defense in action has some fond memories of that unit.
The 2013 Ravens aren’t going to remind us of the 2000 champions from the season statistics, but for an afternoon they reminded me of the “11 billiard balls” defense that swarmed to the football and evoked fear in their opponents 13 years ago.
On multiple occasions they had 4+ men taking down the ball carrier, highlighted by the yearbook-cover sack of Weeden (Q2, 2:00) where 5 of the 6 Ravens rushing reached Weeden nearly simultaneously.
Other examples of swarming tackling include 3 takedowns of Richardson (Q2, 6:45 and Q2, 2:00 and Q3, 4:31).
This was a game where the Ravens’ relentless numbers and stunts confused the Browns’ blockers and kept Weeden imperiled. The Ravens rushed 6 or more 8 times and the Browns lost a net 15 yards on those plays including 3 sacks. They rushed six 5 times in week 1 and Manning burned them for 23.8 YPP on those plays.
This defense looks like it will be fine either at home or against lesser quarterbacks. It’s a credit to Weeden that he avoided an interception or fumble in this game. He’s clearly made good use of film while his classmates were delivering frankincense and myrrh to Jerusalem.
The Browns had 61 “real” snaps (excluding play-nullifying penalties and 2 kneels) which is the basis I use for all snap counts listed in this article and will be slightly lower than other published totals:
Versus the Run: 20 plays, 65 yards, 3.3 YPC
Versus the Pass: 42 plays, 194 yards, 4.6 YPP
Overall: 62 plays, 259 yards, 4.2 YPPA
By number of defensive backs:
4 DBs: 34 plays, 183 yards, 5.4 YPPA, 1 sack
5 DBs: 26/71, 2.7 YPPA, 4 sacks
6 DBs+: 2/5, 2.5 YPPA
By number of pass rushers:
3: 1 play, 0 yards
4: 25/161, 6.4 YPP, 2 sacks
5: 8/48, 6.0 YPP
6: 7/-15, -2.1 YPP, 3 sacks
7: 1/0, 0.0 YPP
- The Ravens played their first 2 snaps of the season in the dime (6 DBs):
- (Q2, 14:13) Suggs was in a 3-point stance with 6 others standing at the LoS. McPhee, D.Smith, and Ihedigbo dropped to cover as the Ravens overloaded the left side. Weeden felt pressure as he threw to Bess 1 yard short of the marker. Ihedigbo and Smith took him down immediately to deny a 3rd-and-6 conversion.
- (Q3, 2:32) With just Suggs and McPhee in a 3-point stance, the Ravens again had 7 close to the line of scrimmage, but rushed 3 for the only time all day. Weeden threw deep into traffic where Jimmy Smith knocked away a pass intended for Little to get off the field on 3rd and 12.
- Jimmy Smith played an outstanding game. He was frequently in press coverage, giving him the opportunity to disrupt routes as the pass rush wreaked havoc. He would finish with 3 passes defensed and his assignments caught just 4 of 8 balls for 33 yards. My notes for the game:
- (Q1, 8:48) He and Graham had good coverage on Little as Weeden overthrew.
- (Q2, 2:40) He and Arthur Brown each missed a tackle on Richardson, but the swarm reduced the YAC to 4.
- (Q3, 13:25) He took down Little for a 4-yard gain (0 YAC) between the numbers and left hash, but was injured on the play.
- (Q3, 2:32) He stripped Little to deny a 17+ yard reception between the numbers and left hash.
- (Q4, 13:18) He tipped another pass for Little between the numbers and left hash. Daryl Smith could not corral the ball for an interception.
- (Q4, 8:05) From press coverage, he denied Little the football again 15 yards down the left sideline for his 3rd PD.
- (Q4, 7:59) He had coverage of Little again which resulted in an incomplete, but took a shot from Ihedigbo’s hip, which knocked him out of the game for 2 plays.
- Smith’s play bolsters a unit which is a lot better than the season-opener would indicate. However, the Ravens have no depth at corner and may need to add a corner prior to the return of Asa Jackson.
- The depth chart was also in flux with regard to Corey Graham. He entered the season as the Ravens’ most reliable corner, but he played opposite the slot receiver in the nickel on Sunday and totaled just 34 snaps. Playing a number of 3rd downs, he kept the play in front of him and defended the sticks well. He took down Bess for a gain of 5 on 3rd and 8 (Q3, 11:36). He also tackled Cameron for a gain of 6 on the Browns’ final offensive play (4th and 10, Q4, 3:09). It was a solid comeback from the opener in Denver.
- Webb again played well and went largely untested by Weeden. He broke off coverage of Benjamin to chase down Cameron and prevent a TD on the Browns first play (Q1, 11:07). Coupled with the Ravens’ subsequent goal-to-go stop, that was a 4-point effort. He kept his assignment out of the end zone for the 28th consecutive game. Interestingly, the Ravens did not use Webb to cover the slot receiver in the nickel. He stayed on the outside and Graham was used on the inside. Lardarius is a solid outside defender against the run and played well again Sunday, but I still cringe each time he engages a running back. His only bad play was a missed tackle which allowed Benjamin to turn a 16-yard reception into 22 (Q2, 11:14).
- Elam started at free safety and played every snap. He lost Cameron in coverage on the Browns’ first offensive play, but otherwise played OK and finished with 5 tackles. Matt showed off his versatility by playing 2 snaps as inside corner in the nickel.
- Michael Huff lost his starting job to Elam. Injuries to Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown left the Ravens with just 2 corners at one point. Huff, who has NFL experience at corner just last season, would have been a logical choice to see action on the outside. Instead, the Ravens used Matt Elam as the nickel, dropping Huff to play a deep safety. Fortunately, Smith returned after missing just 2 plays.
- Daryl Smith continues to be the Ravens’ best off-season acquisition. He finished with 11 tackles including 1.5 sacks and registered 2 PDs. He rushed delayed through the open left B gap to take down Weeden on the jailbreak sack (shared with A. Brown, Q2, 2:00). His second sack came on 6-man pressure when he twisted past a beautiful low pick by Bynes on Mack and threw aside Ogbonnaya to take down Weeden for a loss of 10 (Q4, 13:05). He made a leaping PD of the ball thrown for Little (Q3, 0:20) approximately 10 yards downfield between the numbers and left hash. I know it’s happened, but I can’t recall the last PD in space (as opposed to a tip near the LoS) by a Ravens linebacker.
- Arthur Brown left with an injury late in the 3rd quarter after 15 snaps. He’s been a passing-down linebacker only thus far, so it would be best if he can both cover and rush the passer. He’s shown the ability to use his speed to exploit an opening on a delayed blitz and we know he has the speed to cover NFL TEs, but he did something new Sunday. Brown bulled Schwartz, then slipped off and was credited with half of the jailbreak sack (Q2, 2:00).
- Bynes played 43 snaps. In addition to his contribution to Smith’s sack (see above), he looked solid as a run defender. His tackles were 4, 3, 3, 5, 1, 3, -3, and 9 yards from the LoS and all but the 5-yard gain would be defensive wins by the Football Outsiders definition. His highlight was penetration past a missed block by Barnidge to take down Richardson for a loss of 3 (Q3, 4:31). He continues to be lost in coverage. It appears he was responsible to cover Ogbonnaya on the wide-open miss for a possible TD (Q3, 2:38).
- Suggs played 48 of 62 snaps. It was a warm day, but that’s an unusual number of plays on the sidelines for Terrell. He played 98.5% of snaps in 2010 and 95.0% of snaps in 2011, his last 2 full seasons. Suggs may have benefited from a lighter workload as he generated his best pressure in some time with a sack and 2 other QHs. It was the first time he had knocked down the QB 3 times since December 2011 versus Indianapolis.
- Pernell McPhee bulled Little and penetrated past the pulling Mack (Q3, 12:17) to take down Richardson for a loss of 3. He lined up to rush from the inside on several plays, something he did not do in Denver. He also dropped to cover on 5 plays.
- Dumervil created significant pressure in 38 snaps. On those plays, he rushed the passer on 28 and generated 6 pressure events:
- (Q1, 3:19) He beat Schwartz outside (a recurring theme) and dragged down Weeden for a QH as he threw incomplete for Cameron.
- (Q2, 14:19) Elvis stunted inside and beat Mack for a QH as part of a 7-man rush
- (Q2, 6:02) He beat Schwartz outside and underneath and clamped the football in Weeden’s hands to ensure the sack. The rest of the rush piled on for a loss of 9.
- (Q2, 2:00) He bulled and pancaked Cousins, who tripped Ogbonnaya leading to the 5-man sack
- (Q3, 0:15) He tossed aside Schwartz’s arms to hit Weeden as he threw. The pass was a pop up caught by Ogbonnaya for a gain of 9 on 3rd and 15.
- (Q4, 7:59) He beat Schwartz outside and appeared to be held as Weeden threw incomplete for Little.
- The Browns were unable to run an effective no huddle. The crowd was not consistently loud, but Weeden was unable to get the snap off on 3 separate occasions in addition to an unforced early timeout and an illegal shift. That gave the Ravens the ability to substitute effectively.
- Ngata continued to be effective playing the run. In particular, he penetrated by Cousins to get a hand on Richardson. He slowed down the Browns’ RB, then dragged him down from behind for a gain of 3. That appeared to be a big play developing on the right side. As a pass rusher, he picked it up with 2 late knockdowns (Q3, 0:15 and Q4, 3:22). He also absorbed a double from Mack and Greco on the Ravens jailbreak sack (Q3, 2:00).
- Terrence Cody did not show up on the stat sheet, but played effectively in 18 snaps that included 2 pressure events as I have it scored. He bulled Cousins into Weeden (Q2, 0:11) on what I thought could have been the first officially-credited QH of his career, but Suggs also had him by the ankles. He bulled Mack into Weeden’s face (Q3, 13:28). He absorbed a double (Q2, 8:50) which allowed Bynes to slip by and take down Richardson for a gain of 1.
- Chris Canty was invisible and suffered a groin injury that forced him to leave on the 1st play of the 2nd half after 23 snaps.
- Arthur Jones returned from his medical hiatus and played well in 32 snaps that included a sack. With the injuries to Canty and Brandon Williams, the Ravens are now operating at minimum defensive-line depth, so his encouraging play is welcome indeed. Both Upshaw and McPhee lined up inside for pass rush snaps on Sunday.