New Look Secondary Clamps Down on Titans

Filmstudy New Look Secondary Clamps Down on Titans

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I hadn’t seen Zach Mettenberger play previously, but his quick release in warmups had me worried.  He looked confident and fired the ball with ease and velocity.  That was concerning after last week’s debacle.

However, after a bumpy start, the revamped secondary complemented the pass rush to shut down the Titans.

Let’s review:

Anthony Levine played 40 snaps and was outstanding.  He supported the run well and got his hand on the football:

  • (Q1, 14:17)  Sankey ran left and Levine was up quickly to stretch the play and then pushed him out of bounds for a gain of 1.
  • (Q1, 13:00)  Wright ran a reverse left which Suggs effectively contained and Levine assisted to shut down for a gain of 1.
  • (Q2, 1:37)  Mettenberger threw to Washington by the left sideline for a gain of 13.  Levine was a little soft, but delivered a hard hit while the receiver was in the air and allowed 0 YAC.  That was the only reception he allowed all day.
  • (Q2, 1:08)  Mettenberger again went for Washington on the very next play, but Levine dove and was credited with the PD.  Neither of Levine’s PDs were obvious deflections, but in each case he was in position to make a play and may have altered the throw.
  • (Q2, 1:01)  On 3rd and 15, Mettenberger screened left for Washington for a gain of 9 (-5 + 14 YAC).  Levine and Mosley contained the play and forced the punt.
  • (Q3, 11:40)  On 3rd and 1, the Titans lined up in the shotgun and Levine rushed off the slot receiver and leapt high in the air to force an off-target throw to the hot receiver.  Levine was again credited with a PD.

Danny Gorrer didn’t start and was in for just 30 snaps, but looked like he has maintained some of his coverage skills from 2011.

  • (Q1, 2:18)  Mettenberger threw to Hunter by the right sideline for a gain of 17 (16+ 1).  Gorrer had outstanding inside coverage, but somehow failed to get his hand on the football.
  • (Q2, 12:36)  He again had good coverage of Hunter down the left sideline and drew an offensive pass interference call to negate a 36-yard completion.
  • (Q2, 5:57)  Sankey took a screen right 6 yards behind the LoS and ran for 14 YAC, which included 3 yards driving through Gorrer as he made the tackle.
  • (Q2, 3:08)  Gorrer had coverage of the slot left, but Mettenberger worked through his reads, then dumped off to Sankey on the left.  Gorrer was up quickly to make the initial contact and slow him down.  Sankey eventually pulled free, but Mosley was there to clean up.
  • (Q4, 2:35)  Mettenberger threw for Coffman by the right sideline approximately 15 yards from the LoS.  Gorrer actually appeared soft, but was reading the QB and broke on the football as he cocked his arm and crossed behind Coffman for the interception.  It was only the 2nd interception by a member of the secondary this season (Jimmy Smith at Tampa).

Lardarius Webb had another tough week in coverage, but didn’t allow any big plays.  He played 52 snaps:

  • (Q1, 12:18)  Suggs jumped offsides to create a free play.  Mettenberger threw a 17-yard completion to Washington on the right sideline.  Webb was soft, but came up to make the tackle with no YAC.
  • (Q1, 4:58)  Webb had coverage of Wright by the right sideline, but did not attempt to undercut the route.  The receiver made the catch for a gain of 15, but Lardarius immediately pushed him out of bounds.  Hill was converging on the play, so Webb could have gambled to make a play on the ball.
  • (Q4, 4:45)  Battle made an 11-yard reception (5 + 6 YAC) by the right sideline with Mosley responsible.  CJ missed the tackle, but Webb cleaned up.

Will Hill looked solid on the back end in 51 snaps.  His PD (Q2, 5:18) versus Walker served as a vivid reminder of how unusual it has been to have a safety make a play on the football this season.  He also rushed up quickly from deep safety to hold Sankey to a gain of 4 (Q3, 5:30).  He was nearly able to make a play on Daryl Smith’s PD (Q4, 13:03).  The Ravens will need to start making plays (rather than excuses) on those free balls in the air, but looking prospectively, Will’s play was a good sign.

Terrence Brooks played just 19 snaps, primarily as a replacement for Stewart, but made his presence felt.  On the first drive (Q1, 10:21) he trailed in coverage of Walker, as he caught the ball between the numbers and right hash for a gain of 17 (11 + 6 YAC).   His hit on Walker dislodged the football and left the TE incapacitated on the field (Q2, 2:22).

Darian Stewart played 36 uneventful snaps including many close to the LoS.  I have not noted and can’t recall a ball in his area nor a hole-in-zone play where he had adjacent responsibility.  That’s good news.

Matt Elam played 15 snaps on which the Titans gained just 24 yards (1.6 YPPA), but he did not make my notes.  Jeromy Miles also played 3 goal-line snaps.  Tramain Jacobs did not play on defense and Rashaan Melvin was inactive.

Some general notes about the play of the secondary:

  • The Titans did not have a single play of longer than 20 yards.
  • When evaluating yards after the catch (YAC), screen pass YAC is far less relevant than receivers getting behind the secondary or running unhindered after receptions in the middle of the field.  This was a game where the Titans’ wide receivers were held to just 13 YAC on 7 catches.
  • Of the Ravens’ 5 sacks, several were slow to develop.  I’ll be able to see more when I review the coaches’ film Tuesday night, but slow developing sacks are an indication of the secondary maintaining extended coverage.  This is one of perhaps 2 times this year (Pittsburgh, Week 2) where the secondary made a positive contribution to the pass rush.
  • Another indication of good coverage is number of checkdowns and Mettenberger threw to the flat several times after making his reads.
  • I can’t recall a time in Ravens’ history when the team had to dig so deep for cornerback talent before getting a payoff.  All of the moves in 2007 were for naught.  The 2011 team had a remarkable comeback in the secondary, centered on the emergence of Webb, but the talent was all on the team from training camp.  The cuts of Brown and Franks were courageous and have already been rewarded.

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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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