Despite a fine draft, several recovering players, and the first solid cap position in years, there isn’t any story more significant to the 2016 Ravens than the return of Joe Flacco.
Flacco was knocked down 9 times by the Bills as Rex Ryan schemed for pressure effectively. However, despite being battered, Joe turned in a fine game for the conditions.
As part of the offensive line scoring, I broadly define each drop back as “Ample Time and Space” (ATS) or not. Boiled down to its simplest form, the QB is assumed to have ATS if he has 3 full seconds and enough room to step into his throw in a 120-degree arc centered on the intended receiver.
I have data for Flacco going back to 2010 during which time Joe has averaged approximately 8.2 net yards per drop back with ATS and 4.1 net without ATS. The idea was to create a simple statistic that would approximate how he performed relative to the opportunity set he was provided.
Here are Joe’s results against the Bills by ATS:
Summarizing relative to expectation:
Here are the Bills pass rushes by number of rushers and ATS result:
–The Bills used significant variation of pass rush by numbers and organization. That’s Ryan’s hallmark, of course. They had lots of pre-snap movement, ran overloads, stunted/twisted, and blitzed from the slot, safety, and linebacker.
–It may be a little surprising to see the Bills blitzed 3 so often, and so effectively. That’s the value of variation and deception. The Bills baseline rush is not particularly good, so Ryan had to scheme for pressure.
–I’m hearing Kyle Williams is older and not as good, but he remains a beast as far as I can see. Jerry Hughes also had an outstanding game.
–The Ravens faced one of the best secondaries in the league: Darby, Gilmore, Graham, and Williams.
–The Ravens ran 47 of 63 snaps from the shotgun. That helped the ball come out quicker, but effectively eliminated the play action passing game. The past few seasons, the Ravens have been effective using play action to generate ATS.
–Of the Bills 4 sacks, only 1.83 were charged to the offensive line. Of portions not charged to linemen, Flacco held the ball too long to cause one (Q4, 6:25), Forsett shared one with Zuttah (Q2, 0:42), and I charged 2/3 of Douzable’s sack (Q4, 8:16) to Juszczyk.
–Pro Football Focus differs in their method of scoring pass rush events and will charge multiple pressures/QHs/sacks on the same play. I divide out each event to those I think are responsible. Both systems have their merits. I guess I should simply say that if you don’t like fractions, you probably won’t like my work.
–The average yards per play with ATS is skewed by the 2 big throws to Perriman and Wallace, but I am encouraged by the fact Joe was able to hit 2 of 2 quality deep balls, because the Ravens will have many more opportunities versus less talented back ends.
–So, pulling it all together…the Ravens produced a slightly above average passing game result. The Bills generated pressure approximately 6 more times than would be expected normally (50% has been the average percentage of ATS over the 6 seasons I have been logging it) and converted that into 4 sacks and 8 QHs (1 more was wiped out by penalty). However, Flacco stood up to that pressure well with a 0-interception performance that was also 15 yards better than expectation for his opportunity set, even though he did not generate any defensive fouls.
Offensive Line Scoring
The Ravens ran 63 scored snaps versus the Bills (excludes penalties and 3 kneels).
Stanley: Ronnie had a solid NFL debut which was, nonetheless, a step back from his outstanding preseason. He was beaten outside by Lorenzo Alexander for a QH (Q4, 14:12) where he blocked Alexander to the ground and the Bills OLB pulled Flacco down by the ankle after the ball was out. That QH was dangerous, but it did not impact Flacco’s ability to deliver the football. The other QH he allowed was shared with Lewis (Q1, 7:11), when he failed to direct Alexander all the way past the pocket. That forced Flacco to step up where he took a hit from Douzable, who had pushed Lewis back into the pocket. This was a case where Stanley wouldn’t have simply been credited with a block had Lewis not given ground. His only other negative event was a full pressure when beaten inside by Williams on the Ravens’ second offensive snap (Q1, 14:32). On that play, Lewis blocked inside to assist Zuttah, but Stanley could have used the help more. His comical false start would make an NFL blooper reel, and I think it’s safe to say he wanted to get ahead on that pull. I did not mark him for a single highlight block, level 2 block, or pancake. The Ravens ran an unbalanced set once (Q2, 12:54) with Stanley lined up on the far right side and Ronnie held his kickout block to open the hole for Forsett’s 9-yard run.
Scoring: 63 plays, 57 blocks, 3 missed, 1 pressure, 1.5 QHs, 1 false start, 47.5 points (.75 per play). With adjustment for quality of competition, that’s a B-. It would have been unreasonable to expect more from his first NFL game at LT.
Lewis: Alex had a smattering of negative events in a solid first NFL start. I charged him with half the QH (Q1, 7:11) mentioned above with Stanley when he was backed up then shed by Douzable. He got 2/3 of the QH charge (Q2, 2:52) when Williams backed him up and took down Flacco at the same time as Flacco’s front side was closed off by Yanda (bulled by Worthy). He and Zuttah were unable to hold off Williams (Q4, 8:16) which compressed the pocket as Douzable ran over Juszczyk for a 6-yard sack. He flattened NT Bryant on West’s 3-yard conversion that sealed the game (Q4, 2:00). That’s the only highlight block I scored for him and he did not make any blocks in level 2.
Scoring: 63 plays, 54 blocks, 4 missed, 1 penetration, ½ pressure, .83 (1/2 + 1/3) QHs, 1/6 sack, 47.5 points (.75 per play). That’s a C with adjustment at guard. Facing Ryan’s blitz schemes and Kyle Williams on many snaps, this was a first game to build on and I remain excited about the prospects for the Ravens on the left side.
Zuttah: Jeremy laid an egg in this one. The premature snap turnover (Q1, 7:05) was far from his only mistake. I charged him with half of Hughes’ drive-ending sack (Q2, 0:42) when he and Forsett both turnstiled the Bills OLB. He got another 1/6 sack charge as described under Lewis (Q4, 8:16). Almost as bad, he missed a team-high 7 blocks by a variety of means for which I’ll provide racing form wording:
–whiffed on Bryant on RR6
–premature snap lost
–no block or assist on RM2
–backed up by Bryant on RR10
–backed up by Williams, INC
–L2 NB while Williams beat Lewis for RM-2
–L2 NB on screen PR-2
Scoring: 63 plays, 53 blocks, 7 missed, ½ QH, 2/3 (1/2 + 1/6) sack, 47.5 points (.75 per play). Normally I would give him an adjustment of several points for the quality of competition, but I won’t do that here, since I think he deserves a significant additional charge for the snap error. That’s an F at center and 2 points shy of a D-. I still believe Zuttah is the Ravens’ best option at center now, but Jensen and Urschel should see this as an opportunity.
Yanda: Marshal had an uncharacteristically poor game. He was flagged for an unnecessary hold behind the run (Q1, 1:48) that stalled the Ravens’ first scoring drive and also had a false start (Q1, 8:31) on the drive that ended on the fumbled snap. Marshal was flagged just 4 times in 2015, but oddly has been penalized 5 times in his last 4 games. His most significant other charge was a shared sack where he and Wagner were unable to pick up the twisting Hughes (Q4, 13:26). Wagner handed off Hughes a little deep, but then moved quickly to pick up Douzable outside. Yanda fought, but was unable to hold off Hughes from the starting disadvantage. This was a fairly tough charge, which could also have gone to Flacco based on the time it took to develop. In any case, if you think Yanda deserved no charge, a 3-point adjustment would be about .05 in final score and half a grade level. Marshal’s lone highlight block was an impressive combo where he finished by driving Preston Brown 10+ yards back in level 2 (Q2, 2:52). He made 3 of 5 pulls and had just 2 blocks in level 2.
Scoring: 63 plays, 57 blocks, 4 missed, 1/3 QH, ½ sack, 1 false start, 1 offensive hold, 44 points (.70 per play). With adjustment, that’s a D at guard.
Wagner: Rick began his contract year with a solid game which gives hope he can return to 2014 form. In addition to the shared sack detailed above under Yanda (Q4, 13:26), he had 2 other negative events. He was bulled by Hughes for pressure (Q1, 7:45) and was backed up, then beaten inside by Washington (Q2 12:59) on a play that would have been more dangerous from the blind side. He had 2 blocks in level 2 and his score probably benefits slightly from the fact that the Ravens run more frequently to the right, which reduces the number of times he fails to make a more-difficult backside run block.
Scoring: 63 plays, 55 blocks, 5 missed, 2 pressures, 1/2 sack, 48 points (.76 per play). That’s a B with adjustment primarily for facing Hughes.