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: Conspiracy of Circumstance – Off.line model & notes vs. Indy

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoff-Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens
John Harbaugh has been consistently successful and treats most information as classified.  The success of Bill Belichick and others would be strong evidence that this is the correct strategy. It’s also strong evidence that you can’t take any forward-looking comments at face value. He’s not in the business of giving a frank evaluation of his players which might allow opponents to exploit weaknesses.  It’s not his job to reveal the nature and seriousness of injuries beyond the degree required under the rules.  And it’s certainly not his responsibility to explain...

FILMSTUDY: Regressing to unmean – Off. line model & notes vs. Cin 12/30/12

taylordunlap
The Ravens engineered a bye week by resting most of their regulars after limited appearances in a game dominated by fear of injury and the efforts of the few players enjoying their first big chance. On the offensive line, that manifested itself in some absolutely abysmal blocking.  Whether by instruction, intensity, sickness, quality of opponent, or other factor, the Ravens’ linemen as a group were awful.  Missed run blocks were at the highest level in total I have recorded. The Ravens had 82 snaps (excluding the fake punt by Koch):...

FILMSTUDY: Higher denomination coinage – def. notes vs. Bengals 12/30/12

ravensdlinebengals
The Ravens have played outstanding dime defense the last 7 weeks. During that time, they have played with 6 DBs 17 times and surrendered just 14 yards (0.8 YPPA) including 3 sacks and 2 turnovers.  Until yesterday, the current stretch had all been 3rd or 4th down with 4+ yards to go.  However, on the Bengals last meaningful series Sunday, the Ravens went to it on 2nd and 9. There are risks with getting personnel substituted after a successful conversion or a gain that sets up 3rd and short, but...

FILMSTUDY: Bullies Empowered

New York Giants v Baltimore Ravens
Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Giants 12/23/12 The bullies never come off well in the movies. Biff Tannen (Back to the Future), Johnny Lawrence (The Karate Kid), Scut Farkas (A Christmas Story)…you’re not tempted to root for them. On Sunday, Ravens fans cheered for a bullying of epic proportions as Flacco picked on the Giants’ weakest defensive link and their rookie tackle administered a beating to whoever was assigned to stand in front of him. Corey Webster was victimized by Joe Flacco.  Joe loves the back shoulder and trusts...

FILMSTUDY: Defensive notes vs. Giants 12/23/12

ellerbeeli
During the Denver broadcast, Gumbel quoted Harbaugh as saying the Ravens needed “more yards, more first downs, and more snaps.” The Ravens were outsnapped for the 9th time in 10 games versus Denver.  However, they reversed that trend against the Giants, outsnapping New York by a whopping 81-45 margin en route to a 33-14 win. The Ravens would knock down Eli Manning 9 times including 3 sacks in 31 drop backs, and allowed just 3.8 YPP.  Manning had been sacked an NFL-low 16 times entering the game. The Ravens are now...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Broncos

Flacco sacked v Broncos
The Ravens played one of the most talented pass rushes they will face this year without their best lineman, and predictably had their worst game of the season as a unit. Flacco had ATS on just 16 of 43 drop backs (37%) despite the fact that the Broncos brought 5 or more pass rushers on just 6 snaps.  After halftime, the Broncos rushed 5 only twice.  It’s all but impossible to move the ball effectively when the defense can get consistent pressure with 4 men. Caldwell must find a way...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive line model and notes vs. Redskins 12/9/12

Joe Flacco, DeAngelo Hall, Jordan Pugh, Courtney Upshaw
The offensive line may have had its best collective game on Sunday.  They surrendered only 6 negative events, had 2 penalties, and missed a total of just 17 blocks.  No one had a score which converts to less than a C with consideration for position.  The running backs averaged 6.2 YPC, and Flacco had a QB rating of 121.4.  And yet, the game turned on pass rush events from the blind side which resulted in turnovers. Going forward, the class of 2012 has lost its only A student and must...

FILMSTUDY: No rest for the weary

Defensive Notes vs. Redskins 12/9/12 As is frequently the case in a close game, the Ravens had a number of 4th-quarter plays which would have greatly increased their chance to win the game if not sealed it. Let’s review: (Q4, 4:47): Upshaw forced the fumble on the kickoff with the Ravens up 28-20. Reed was ruled to recover and the play was reversed on some of the flimsiest evidence I have ever seen. If that could be overturned, then the Ravens should have been granted a reversal on the Patriots...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive line model and notes vs. Steelers 12/2/12

Did the Ravens throw the ball deep too often on Sunday? To answer that we’d need to understand both the circumstances and results. Realizing, of course, that the outcome alone does not justify the gamble, let’s start by reviewing all the balls Flacco threw 20+ yards downfield: 1. (Q1, 14:22) In the face of Polomalu’s blitz, Flacco threw deep between the numbers and left hash for Torrey Smith. Smith turned and came close to hauling in the on-target throw, but Taylor stripped the ball. The Steelers’ CB limped off the...

Filmstudy: Defensive Notes vs. Steelers 12/2/12

A normal day includes a fair number of expletives. This was much worse. The Ravens managed to cough up a game they appeared to control thoroughly in the last 10 minutes. The Steelers had given them the game several times over with Sanders’ fumble and Batch’s overthrow of Wallace, but it still seemed unlikely Pittsburgh would muster the touchdown necessary to win the game. But the signs were there previously. The Ravens allowed too many big opportunities in the passing game. Let’s review: (Q1, 3:37) Brown had a step on...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive line model and notes vs. Chargers 11/25/12

Anquan Boldin has carried the Ravens’ receiving corps at times this season, but heading into his final year under contract, he has some weaknesses which aren’t going away, and others that are being exacerbated by his reduced speed. He was targeted 8 times with 2 catches, but might have caught any of three balls that went incomplete. - He was slowed following the flight of the ball over his head and couldn’t quite catch up to a deep ball down the right sideline when he had Jammer beat (Q1, 9:56)....

FILMSTUDY: Defensive shell game continues…notes vs. Chargers 11/25/12

If Dan Fouts, instead of Ian Eagle, had handled the play-by-play call on 4th and 29: Trips left, Smith alone on the far side of the field. All but five of the good…er, Chargers lined up at least 15 yards downfield…Four man pass rush…Flacco has all…freaking…day. He dumps it off to Rice on the right side. Rice turns upfield to the 50…are you kidding me, 3 stiffarms? He’s at the 40 and Boldin lays out Weddle from behind. Where’s the flag? Rice dives for the first down marker and he’s...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Steelers

Why does it seem like the Ravens and Steelers games are always close? Some people will tell you it’s a matter of familiarity, others that the rivalry or the fans bring it out of the players. I think Sunday’s game was close for a much different reason. The Ravens, facing Byron Leftwich and noticing the condition of the Steelers’ QB, decided this game would be fully in the hands of the defense. It was Ravens football, 2008 style. With a 10-7 lead from midway through the 1st quarter, Flacco threw...

FILMSTUDY: Winning Krugly…Defensive Notes vs. Steelers

November 18, 2012 The Ravens won an ugly game Sunday. How ugly? I went through all 204 games the Ravens played since 2000 to make this list, and was only able to come up with 14 nominations that combined winning, versus a bad (or injured) team, by a close margin, with notable help from the opponent. Here is my list of the 5 ugliest Ravens’ wins in that period: 1. Ravens 9, Chiefs 6 10/7/12: The Ravens allowed 214 yards rushing to the Chiefs on 50 carries, but the Chiefs...

Potential AFCN Tiebreaker Scenarios: Ravens v. Steelers

It’s Never too Early for Tiebreakers We won’t get into a full discussion about the Wild Card, but I want to look at the tiebreakers strictly with the Steelers in the event they are tied with the Ravens for the division lead at season’s end. In doing so, we are (rightfully) ignoring the Cincinnati Bengals. First, a look at the results and upcoming opponents is useful: Ravens (7-2): @Pit, SD, Pit, @Was, Den, NYG, @Cin (3-0 in Div, 1-1 vs. non-common opps, 6-1 in Conf, 1-1 vs. NFC) Steelers (6-3):...

FILMSTUDY: Defensive notes vs. Raiders 11/11/12

The 2007 Ravens were the last Baltimore team with as many players asked to do more than they can do well defensively: –The 2007 team scraped the absolute bottom of the CB barrel trying Ivy, Martin, Pittman, finally resorting to street pickup Willie Gaston–all on the outside. –For the first 6 games of the season the 2007 team got very little pass rush from their down linemen (they were 0 for 44 on their initial 4-man rushes) and resorted to dime pressure from Jerome Sapp and Corey Ivy. –The team...

FILMSTUDY: Managing the Vacation Schedule ~ OL Notes v. Raiders

Particularly considering the short rest and potential injury list for the Steelers, the ability to treat Sunday’s game like an exhibition could prove valuable down the stretch. Let’s review: * Pernell McPhee was inactive for a 2nd consecutive week. * Haloti Ngata and Jimmy Smith both dressed, but took PTO days to ride the exercise bike. * Bobby Williams was relieved on what we can only hope is not disability retirement after 14 snaps. * Rice had his last carry on the Ravens first offensive snap of the 2nd half...

Vonta Leach flattens the Browns 11/4/12

When the Ravens acquired Vonta Leach prior to the 2011 season, I wrote a piece analyzing the final game of the 2010 season when he led for Arian Foster who secured the AFC rushing title with a big game versus Jacksonville. You can find that article here: http://russellstreetreport.com/filmstudy-a-day-in-the-life-of-vonta-leach/ This piece along with most that I write, is ideally read with access to NFL Rewind. That indexes the plays and allows you to skip quickly to any given (Quarter, Time) reference. By doing so, it’s possible to follow along with the...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive line model and Notes vs. Browns 11/4/12

One comment I see regularly is that the Ravens give up on Rice and the run game too quickly. Sunday’s game provided clear evidence that the success the Ravens have running comes in 2-back sets with Vonta Leach in the I or offset-I formation. Leach had an outstanding game as a run blocker, for which I’d like to provide play-by-play detail in another piece. On 6 occasions that I counted the Browns linebackers and secondary actively chose to avoid contact with Leach by going down. Most of his blocks moved...

FILMSTUDY: Defensive Notes vs. Browns 11/4/12

Brandon Weeden throws v Ravens
I read an excellent piece on the early days of football which described a game in which Jim Thorpe had a huge punt that essentially won a football game in an era where the basic strategy in football was “Wait for your opponent to screw up.” The same can be said about the Ravens series history with the Cleveland Browns. On Sunday, the Ravens rolled up an early 14-0 lead, but then played bend-but-don’t-break defense the rest of the day to hold Cleveland to 15 points despite a horrific offensive...
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