About Ken McKusick

Ken McKusick

Ken comes to us via area message boards where he has consistently posted some of the most insightful and memorable posts that you'll find anywhere.  Known as "Filmstudy", Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports who grew up about 1 mile from Memorial Stadium.  He attended all but a handful of Orioles home games from 1979 through 2001.   Ken bleeds orange in more ways than one.  He's a graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned degrees in both Broadcast Journalism and Math and now works locally as an actuary. The message board member name "Filmstudy" comes from his collection of video from every Ravens game ever played and his player-participation-by-play tracking system for defense that he developed in 2006.  This system is the cornerstone of his thoughtful and one-of-a-kind analysis of the complex Ravens defense.  

FILMSTUDY: Ravens @ Cowboys–Safety Patrol

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Ravens fans never want another season like 2007 where the Ravens’ secondary evoked memories of the “Street of Dying Men” scene from Gone with the Wind. After the first quarter, The Ravens’ top 3 corners, Jackson, Webb, and Smith were all out with injuries of which few outside the Castle can claim to have full understanding. The remainder of the game featured a number of 5-DB sets with 3 (big nickel) and even 4 (huge nickel?) safeties. Much was made of the big nickel in the last year or two for...

FILMSTUDY: Wagner, Others Impress in Preseason Opener

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Expectations for Gary Kubiak’s new offense were high, but the results were everything Ravens fans could have hoped. The offensive line led a dominating effort that resulted in a 77-46 (kneels included for emphasis) advantage in offensive snaps against the 49ers.  Let’s take a while to break that down. For the preseason, I find it helpful to record the offensive linemen by series.  I didn’t notice any mid-series changes, but these are the 5 offensive linemen for the first play of each series.  Play totals exclude penalties and kneels. Some notes on...

FILMSTUDY: For Whom is Preseason Most Important?

Asa Jackson v Redskins
Among NFL fans, collective optimism is rarely higher than it is this week. From a fan’s perspective, every player has something to prove over the next month, but I thought it would be fun to create a simple system that tries to quantify the importance of these games for each player on the roster. For each player there are 2 important factors for the preseason.  I’ve defined and rated those as: Variation (Var):  This is a 0-to-5 rating of how much a player’s preseason performance could impact his playing time and the quality of...

FILMSTUDY: A Sampling of Jeremy Zuttah’s 2013 Performances

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I wanted to give you my observations from watching some 2013 video for the Ravens new center. I didn’t have time to watch the entire season, but wanted to select a representative 4-game sample.  Your first question may well be “How did you pick which games to watch?” To summarize:  I reviewed PFF’s season and by-game scores I noted his season score was 0.2 I picked 4 games (2 good and 2 bad as PFF scored it) with an aggregate score of close to 0 Those games included weeks 1...

FILMSTUDY: 2013 Offensive Line Analysis

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It was a forgettable year for the Ravens’ offensive line. Let’s remember it, so we’ll know a good OL when we see one again. This year, I have added a scoring graph for each player. These graphs offer a visual representation of play consistency and break down the player’s performance into raw score (purple) and a subjective adjustment (red) I make before assigning a grade. This adjustment is for other elements not captured by the scoring system, primarily quality of competition above the replacement level. Of note are the different grading...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive Line Notes vs. Bengals 12/29/13

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Fixing the offensive line is the Ravens’ major offseason priority. I expect 3, if not 4 of Sunday’s starters will not be on the team in 2014. The scoring against the Bengals is better than the overall offensive result for several reasons. Several of the pass-rush events were a function of failed blocks by eligible receivers or free rushers, there were no runs for negative yardage, and the number of missed blocks was low. The Bengals rushed 3 or 4 men on 42 of 52 drop backs. Despite the conservative...

FILMSTUDY: Major Changes in Store for Ravens Defense

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals
We’ve seen the last of some defenders, but it’s not clear how the defense will be realigned in 2014. The week 10 overtime win against Cincinnati was a turning point in many ways.  In that game, the Ravens sacked Dalton 5 times and put themselves back in the playoff hunt.  Since then, the pass rush has fallen apart despite an overall resurgence of the team and stellar play in the secondary.  This is easier to show in chart form: The Ravens have actually generated just 3 sacks in the last...

Lack of Motivation Could Send Ravens Home for Playoffs

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The Ravens head to Cincinnati this weekend with a playoff berth still possible with a win (or even with a loss). There isn’t a question about the Ravens’ desire to win this game and extend their season. It is, unfortunately, a question of motivation of the other teams the Ravens need to win. There are 4 key games: Bal @ Cin: Based on 5 international books that are posting now, the Ravens have almost exactly a 30% chance to win. That is a number that divides up the chance to...

FILMSTUDY: Mission Impossible

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The offensive line was given a difficult task (cue the Mission Impossible theme song)… Protect an injured quarterback from further damage against a team looking to secure its division and bye. Toss in the Patriots’ early lead and the job got a lot tougher. As a whole, the line protected Flacco well, with just 2 of the 4 sacks charged to linemen and ATS on 22 of 42 drop backs.  The 41-7 score wasn’t reflective of the competitiveness, but the Ravens were soundly beaten and now face an uphill battle...

FILMSTUDY: Put Up or Shut Up? Elam Has Best Game as a Raven

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Defensive Notes vs. Lions 12/16/13 Matt Elam’s “rookie” disrespecting of Calvin Johnson received significant pre-game review. While Johnson was effectively controlled by the Ravens’ corners, Elam delivered his best game as a professional. Let’s review Matt’s game: (Q1, 14:14)  Elam flew up for the initial contact in the backfield and forced the play outside as Bush ran left for 1 yard and was tackled by Webb. (Q1, 12:19)  Elam was flagged for unnecessary roughness when he and Daryl Smith hit the sliding Stafford.  However, Matt made a careful approach and...

FILMSTUDY: Not Worth a Plug Nickel

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You’ve heard the old saying about having 24 hours to celebrate any win before prepping for the next game. There are lots of places to read what went right about the game, but after a win like this, I think it’s more interesting to look at what went wrong. There were 7 plays defensively that almost cost the Ravens the game.  Let’s review: (Q2, 10:10)  On 1st and 10 the Ravens lined up in the nickel against 3 wide receivers and an I-formation backfield (I refer to this formation as...

FILMSTUDY: Gradkowski Steps Up

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Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Steelers 12/1/13   The scoring of the offensive line is based on 59 offensive snaps for the Ravens (excludes 3 kneels). Monroe: Monroe played well, primarily against Jarvis Jones. Eugene allowed 2 shared pressures, once beaten outside (Q1, 11:39) and a 2nd time bulled (Q2, 6:50) by the Steelers’ first-round selection. He didn’t have any negative events as a run blocker. Scoring: 53 blocks, 4 missed, 1 (2 x ½) pressure, 51 points (.86 per play). Jones is a mild disappointment as a pass...

FILMSTUDY: Turkey Nearly Ruins Thanksgiving

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Defensive Notes v. Steelers ~ 11/28/13   Just when you think this rivalry can’t get any weirder, it does. Tomlin’s slowing/redirection of Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return brought memories of Tommy Lewis’ off-the-bench tackle in the 1954 Cotton Bowl (see YouTube). It was both a breach of sportsmanship and an officiating blunder. I expect Tomlin will draw a substantial fine from the NFL and the officiating crew will be downgraded for the play. The officials are entitled to award a score or place the ball as they see fit in such...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Jets 11/24/13

New York Jets vs Baltimore Ravens
The legendary 2000 Ravens defense gave up a league-record low 8.35 defensive points per game (167 defensive points allowed in 20 games) by a playoff team.  They’ll be etched forever in the minds and hearts of Baltimore fans as the greatest defense of all time. The 2013 Ravens offense has struggled. What do these two have in common?  As of now, both have an average of 4.5 yards per offensive snap.  Since the 2000 average is unlikely to change, it is up to the 2013 offense to improve to avoid...

FILMSTUDY: Thanksgiving Breakfast – Defensive Notes vs. Jets

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Ever wake up on Thanksgiving and tell yourself to eat light because you have a big meal coming? The Ravens played a low-snap defensive effort versus the Jets with a showdown with the Steelers looming Thursday. Playing at home on Thanksgiving has been described as the pot-sweetener for the Ravens not receiving the NFL opener at home.  It’s more than fair compensation and if the Ravens fail to win Thursday, it won’t be because they entered the game tired or banged up. The Steelers come off a similarly one-sided road...

FILMSTUDY: O-Line Notes v. Bengals and Bears

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Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Bengals and Bears   The scoring of the offensive line is based on 71 offensive snaps versus the Bengals and 75 versus the Bears. Monroe: Eugene has struggled the last 2 weeks against a pair of good pass rushers. Against the Bengals he allowed a sack to Vincent Rey (Q, T). Monroe failed to pick up Rey who came delayed and instead assisted Shipley inside on James Harrison. Against the Bears he surrendered sacks to Julius Peppers (Q2, 14:07) and Ozougwu (Q3, 7:45). Both...

FILMSTUDY: Daryl Smith Continues Unsatisfying “Strip Club” Visits

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Daryl Smith has been the one Raven on defense who has made consistent takeaway contributions. On Sunday, the game against the Bears was lost on two challenged strips involving Smith, neither of which was ruled in the Ravens’ favor. (Q1, 9:20)  Lardarius Webb dislodged the football from Jeffery, who was initially ruled down after a 7-yard completion between the numbers and left hash.  Daryl Smith picked up the loose football.  After review, Steratore ruled the pass incomplete; Jeffery took a full step and was in the process of going to...

FILMSTUDY: In Search of Defensive Playmakers

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In a game where the offense again struggled mightily, the defense leveraged an early lead into an extraordinary playmaking effort. Discussion about this defense over the last several weeks has centered on their inability to make big plays.  The lead for all of the 2nd half provided a lens for just how effective this unit would be if the offense can provide some points. In particular, Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Elvis Dumervil, Daryl Smith, and James Ihedigbo all turned in numerous big plays. The big defensive story for the Ravens...

FILMSTUDY: Spiderman Returns

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Everyone likes a sequel. And the return of Lardarius Webb to the slot on Sunday proved a blockbuster. In 2011 and 2012, Webb was used as an outside corner in the standard (4 DB) packages and matched up with the slot receiver in the nickel. Lardarius had spent the season as an outside corner exclusively prior to Sunday, presumably in deference to his 2012 ACL tear. It is quite rare that an outside corner will ever be used to rush the passer.  However, with his return to coverage of the slot...

FILMSTUDY: Pass Protection Not to Blame for Struggles in Cleveland

USP NFL: BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS S FBN USA OH
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...
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