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Pass Protection Not to Blame for Struggles in Cleveland

Filmstudy Pass Protection Not to Blame for Struggles in Cleveland

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The scoring of the offensive line is based on 67 offensive snaps for the Ravens, all of which were competitive.

Let’s start with a note on the phantom holding call.  The Ravens were flagged for holding (Q2, 7:20) that left them 2nd and 20 and led to the drive stalling 2 plays later.  Referee Scott Green announced the flag on number 64.  No Raven wears number 64 currently, but the announcers surmised Oher must have been guilty while the Gamebook charged the hold to Gradkowski.  I don’t believe either is correct.  In fact, after review of both the broadcast and coaches video, the only lineman who might have been guilty was Shipley.  Since I can see no clear evidence of the perp, we’ll charge that penalty to Oniel Cousins, the worst Raven ever to wear number 64.

Monroe:  While McKinnie showed occasional flashes, the Ravens haven’t had a good LT since Gaither in 2009.  Monroe did a fine job in pass protection versus a talented Browns’ pass rush.  He was bulled by Sheard for a pressure (Q2, 7:54), but otherwise made all of his pass blocks.  He missed 3 run blocks, but did not allow a penetration nor was he penalized.  He has the athleticism to pull (once on Sunday) or make effective run blocks in level 2, but that’s a side salad to pass-blocking success at LT.  Scoring:  63 blocks, 3 missed, 1 pressure, 61 points (.91 per play).  A.  Monroe was a quality LT the last 2 seasons.  However, it’s mildly surprising that he can switch teams/systems at midseason and improve his level of play so much.  He should be made a signing priority.

Shipley:  A.Q. had his first start at guard in place of Kelechi Osemele.  He was beaten inside by Sheard (Q2, 6:51) for pressure as Flacco threw incomplete.  I charged him with 1/3 of the sack by Groves (Q1, 4:06) when he and Gradkowski were beaten by Mingo for the initial pressure.  He pulled left on the 2-yard loss by Rice (Q1, 6:17).  On that play, he hesitated as Sheard penetrated past Brown and Dickson, then continued left, but obstructed Rice on his way to find a block.  Scoring:  62 blocks, 2 missed, 1 penetration, 1 pressure, 1/3 sack, 53 points (.79 per play).  Without adjustment, that would be a C at guard, but he was facing a tough interior line, so I’d credit him .04 points/play which would move him to a C+.

Gradkowski:  When I scored Matt Birk’s play, I wondered if I was doing something wrong because he had so few missed blocks and pass-rushing events.  Birk always knew his assignment which meant his pass-blocking failures were primarily one-on-one losses.  He was less likely to fail to pick up a stunt or delay.  I don’t believe Gradkowski is any more imposing physically than Birk was in 2012, but he also suffers from limited NFL experience and that affects his ability to recognize change in the form of pre-snap movement, delays, and stunts.  It’s funny that last year Ravens fans complained about a center that wasn’t getting much push.  I’m guessing those same folks are now pleading for a center who can simply hold his ground.  Scoring:  58 blocks, 3 missed, 1.5 penetrations, 1.5 pressures, 1/3 QH, 1/3 sack, 47 points (.73 per play).  With an adjustment of .04 for the talent on the Browns interior DL, that’s still a D- at center.

Yanda:  His play fell off after a good game against the Steelers.  Some of that is the difference between Taylor/Rubin and Hood, but that doesn’t explain some failed pickups in pass blocking.  Scoring:  61 blocks, 1 missed, ½ penetration, ½ pressure, 1.5 (3 X ½) sacks, 50 points (.75 per play).  C.  His 23-game streak of not being party to a single sack ended at Miami.  Beginning with that game, he has had some responsibility for 6 sacks in 4 games.

Oher:  Michael had an apathetic game reminiscent of McKinnie.  The worst instance came on the first play of Q2 when he inexplicably allowed Jackson to fill the right B gap that forced Pierce outside for a loss of 2.  I’ll give you the horse-racing-form version of his 6 negative pass-blocking events:

 

  • (Q1, 4:10) Bulled by Groves for pressure
  • (Q1, 4:06) Beaten outside by Groves for 1/3 sack
  • (Q2, 1:01) Failed to maintain block on Bryant for ½ sack
  • (Q2, 0:55) Beaten outside by Kruger for pressure
  • (Q3, 3:20) Bulled by Kruger for PD
  • (Q4, 0:07) Beaten outside by Kruger for pressure

His highlight, along with that for Leach and Dickson came on Flacco’s rugby-scrum QB sneak (Q4, 8:47) where those 3 “blockers” did an outstanding job of pushing their QB past the marker.  Scoring:  57 blocks, 3 missed, 2 penetrations, 4 pressures, 5/6 (1/2 + 1/3) sack, 42 points (.58 per play).  D.

Despite the mediocre scores/grades you see above and 5 sacks recorded by the Browns, Flacco had ample time and space (ATS) on a season high 67% (31 of 46) of dropbacks (For a further explanation of ATS, click here).  In fact, Joe underperformed his opportunity set by 103 yards!  Harbaugh is being entirely forthright when he says the pass blocking held up well.

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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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