Scrapping for Wins & Scraping the Barrel

Filmstudy Scrapping for Wins & Scraping the Barrel

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This is a weekly series that will attempt to reset expectations for the final win total after each Ravens game. For an explanation of the assumptions, read here.

You’ll often hear the comment that “the Ravens need to see what [X player] can do for the rest of the season,” given the Ravens won’t be making the playoffs.

On defense, there is some legitimate competition for activation with Carl Davis and Kapron Lewis-Moore inactive among a deep corps on the interior defensive line. Similarly, Dean Pees has had to design packages to get Zach Orr and occasionally Arthur Brown on the field in passing situations.

Out of necessity, the offense has not had the same difficulties finding playing time for its young and fringe players. Let’s review:

–For the first time I can recall, every single non-QB who dressed played at least 1 snap of offense versus the Dolphins.

–That included Raheem Mostert (1 snap), and Kaelin Clay (2 snaps)

Daniel Brown played a significant role with 1 catch for 17 and another negated 52-yard TD among 19 snaps.

Chris Givens had 1 catch with the Rams, but he was targeted 8 times on Sunday with 3 catches for 68 yards.

Kamar Aiken is making the most of his shot as the team’s number 1 receiver and has an outside chance at 70 receptions.

Jeremy Butler has spent what seems like a decade on the practice squad, but all of a sudden he’s catching everything thrown his way.

Terrance West had 8 carries for 31 yards and the Ravens will enter 2016 with multiple options at RB.

James Hurst and Ryan Jensen have not played well, but they have had significant playing time due to injuries and shoe-management problems.

–RT De’Ondre Wesley had his first career pancake on his 2nd NFL snap among 6 plays versus the Dolphins.

–To top it off, Nick Boyle’s suspension along with injuries to Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore, may give an opportunity to Jets castoff Konrad Reuland and veteran Richard Gordon, who has played with 4 previous NFL teams in a 5-year career.

For the practice squad the message should be loud and clear…practice well and you’ll get a chance on some Sunday soon.

It’s not an ideal situation for playoff contention, but Newsome and Harbaugh have used this season to identify some players who can help the team going forward and the opportunities have helped keep the team motivated and scrapping for wins.

Change in expectation due to prior week’s W/L result: I estimated the Ravens had a 35% chance to beat the Dolphins. Prior to consideration of the other factors, expected wins for the season changed by -0.35 with the loss.

Change in expectation due to emerging talent or scheme:

Positives

–The interplay of the secondary and pass rush has improved. The pass rush gave Tannehill Ample Time and Space (ATS) on just 9 of 20 drop backs. That was an exceptional total, since the Ravens never rushed more than 5 and brought 4 on 17/20 pass plays. Part of that credit goes to the secondary which had the advantage of numbers to reduce open receivers. Given the opportunity set, Tannehill would have been expected to throw for 119 net yards based on Flacco’s 2010-14 averages, but the Phins managed just 82 passing yards. This effectiveness will be essential as the Ravens face some more dangerous offenses down the stretch (+0.10).

–Buck Allen had a breakout game and became just the 3rd Raven to have 12 receptions or more in a game (Priest Holmes and Steve Smith had 13 each). He did not catch a ball more than 4 yards from the LoS and his 107 yards was composed of 8 in the air plus 89 YAC plus 10 more on the lateral from Givens. He secured every ball on which he was the target with the exception of the ball Shelby tipped to himself for a pick-6 (+0.05)

–The receivers did a good job in support of Matt Schaub. Some of this may be a case of being fresher than their opponents with more down-by-down substitution in a game with 75 offensive plays. Aiken had 2 knockdowns on balls that appeared headed for interceptions, and caught one of them. Brown used his size well to outplay a small rookie corner (McCain). Butler has used his size well both before and after the catch. A large stable of fresh receivers should be of help versus the Steelers (at least) among the remaining opponents, but this adjustment is also a reflection of play above the level expected from a group decimated by injury (+0.05).

Negative

–The offensive line regressed. Wagner missed 6 plays, but returned. He had his worst game since week 3 and appeared hobbled. I don’t know what to expect out of Hurst. He had his best career game against the Browns, then imploded again Vernon for one of the worst games I have ever scored (-0.05).

Net adjustment: +0.15 wins

Change in expectation due to injuries:

–Monroe was also inactive and based on the language used (“It’s between him, his doctor and his agent”), I think he’s done for the season. Prospectively, I’ll adjust for Hurst’s play in the “emerging talent or scheme” category (0).

–As frustrating as Schaub has been, the alternatives are worse. He took a beating Sunday (-0.05).

–The combination of Boyle’s suspension and Gillmore’s injury threatens to turn one of the Ravens’ solid positions to a very weak one. Juice will see some snaps at TE, but isn’t the best blocker. Williams may be back from his concussion. The Ravens have activated Reuland from the practice squad and signed Gordon to the active roster. Outwardly they are “hopeful” Williams and Gillmore will both play versus Seattle, but the fact they also signed a 3rd TE (Harold Spears) to the practice squad speaks to more serious concerns (-0.10).

These injuries would have been more costly earlier in the year, but the Ravens only have 1 expected win remaining among 4 games, so the negative impact from any injury is limited.

Net Adjustment: -0.15 wins

Change in expectation due to opponent events: The Bengals have an increased chance to be playing for something meaningful in Week 17, so I reduced the Ravens chance to win that game by 5%. If the game is played with a bye or home field advantage on the line, the Ravens chance to win that game will drop further.

Net adjustment: -0.05 wins

Season expected wins after week 13: 5.00

 Expected wins chart for the Ravens after week 13.Expected wins table for the Ravens after 13 weeks.

Looking ahead to Seattle: The Ravens may surprise with a strong home effort versus the Seahawks. It’s still a proud team that, with a few exceptions, wants to win for themselves and their coaches. However, I think the point spread on this game is being unduly influenced by the Ravens’ historic penchant for close games. I estimate the chance for them to beat the Seahawks at just 20%. As of this writing, none of the bookmakers on Oddschecker have a line posted on the game, but the 20% probability is consistent with a spread of approximately 10 points. I think that’s a bigger spread than where I expect this game will post, but I’m also bearish on the Ravens chances.

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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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