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: 2012 defensive personnel analysis – Secondary

reedgraham
For the 2nd consecutive season, the Ravens flexed their depth in the secondary.  The results were far from those of 2011, but the season was more rewarding. At safety, Pollard and Reed were every-down fixtures, but the Ravens drafted core special teamer Christian Thompson in the 4th round and acquired backups James Ihedigbo and Sean Considine.  Omar Brown forced his way onto the practice squad and later the roster with an uncanny knack for finding the football in the preseason.   The Ravens started the season as strong as virtually any...

SUPER FILMSTUDY: Jekyll and Hyde Defense Delivers in the Clutch

Upshaw forced fumble
Super Bowl XLVII Defensive Notes vs. 49ers 2/3/13—Jekyll and Hyde Defense Delivers in the Clutch For a change, the Ravens played just 60 snaps defensively, but nonetheless allowed a SB-record 468 yards for a winning team.  The Ravens failed to contain the run effectively, allowing 6.3 yards per carry and were burned for 9.2 yards per pass play. So how did the Ravens come out on top with such a poor defensive effort?  The simple answer is that the Ravens won a majority of the game’s most important plays.  As...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive line model & notes, Super Bowl XLVII

rizzlesuperbowl
Joe Flacco completed an amazing postseason with the Super Bowl MVP award. As usual, he was good when the offensive line provided Ample Time and Space (ATS).  They did so on 18 of 35 drop backs (51%) Sunday.  With ATS, Flacco was 12 of 18 for 165 yards, 2 TD/0 INT (9.2 YPP, matching his season average).  It’s important to convert opportunities with ATS, but against one of the league’s best defenses, Flacco was outstanding without ATS. Let’s review those 17 opportunities without ATS by play: (Q1, 11:58)  McDonald bulled...

The Science Behind Point Spreads

money_ball copy
Just who is this “Vegas” I’ve heard so much about? The Super Bowl offers a host of wagering options.  It’s an opportunity for the uninitiated to get exposure to a wide variety of wagers. Some like block pools or drawing names for the game’s MVP from a hat are simply attempts to randomly redistribute money without the need for skill.  But the bulk of football-watching America has an external-to-the-game interest involving either fantasy football or some form of wagering against the spread, over/under, money line, etc. If you know how...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive line model & notes vs. Patriots 1/20/13

mountflaccoko
The AFC Championship game can be broken down into 3 distinct phases for the Ravens: Phase 1:  Through the first drive of the 2nd half (the game’s first 35 minutes), the Ravens ran their typical offense with lots of runs, 13 2-back sets among 33 plays (1 had Pitta motioned into the backfield), play action, and 7 points, and 155 yards in 6 modest possessions.  The Ravens were fortunate to trail just 13-7 and got a fresh opportunity following Wes Welker’s dropped conversion attempt (Q3, 10:03). Phase 2:  The Ravens...

FILMSTUDY: AFC Championship Defensive Notes

ellerbe int
The drama was reduced, but the game in New England was much like that in Denver. The Ravens controlled the run effectively, holding the Pats to 3.9 YPC and no run longer than 9 yards (Denver 3.2 YPC, long 11).  They did it despite playing nickel for 77 of the 80 contested snaps (Denver 80 of 86). The Ravens faced a pair of drop back QBs who were both affected by the weather.  Manning attempted just 1 pass of 20+ yards in the Denver cold and Brady completed just 1...

FILMSTUDY: Offensive line model & notes vs. Broncos 1/12/13

joedenver9
Much had changed between the 12/16 meeting with the Broncos in Baltimore and Saturday’s instant classic.  Only Matt Birk was starting at the same position as in that game.  Marshal Yanda was inactive in December, Bryant McKinnie was still on the bench, Michael Oher was at LT, and Kelechi Osemele at RT. In the first meeting, the Broncos rushed 4 men on 37 of 43 dropbacks, yet allowed Flacco Ample Time and Space (ATS) on just 37% of all pass plays.  On Saturday, the line provided ATS on 24 of...

Bill Vinovich, Mr. Subliminal

vinovich
Let’s take a moment to appreciate something other than the Rocky Mountain Rainbow. In a game that was an instant classic in soooo many ways, Referee Bill Vinovich’s overtime introduction fit right in. It’s obvious from the way he spoke that he was reading body language, so I’ll fill in the gaps as I’m best able: “Excellent job so far” [I’ll try to act like a helpful authority figure even though our credibility is pretty well shot after those first four quarters]   “Are you players aware of the overtime...

DEFENSIVE NOTES V. BRONCOS: Ray Lewis more than just inspiring

Manning sacked
In a game where Peyton Manning displayed limited zip on his throws, the game turned on the Ravens’ ability to stop the run under less than ideal circumstances. Deferring discussion of Corey Graham’s heroics, this was a game where Denver’s special teams kept the game close and the Ravens’ run defense deserves much of the credit as they played exclusively nickel for Denver’s first 68 snaps.  In effect, the Ravens dared the Broncos to run the ball, which they were not able to do effectively for most of the day. ...

FILMSTUDY: Examining Kruger’s best game and “The Last Dance”

Kruger sack
Remember the 1996 Ravens’ offense?  You’re not alone if you’ve forgotten how good Vinny Testaverde was that year with a receiving corps that included Michael Jackson, Derrick Alexander, Floyd Turner and tight ends Brian Kinchen and Eric Green. Testaverde was a fine no-huddle QB and the Ravens had a solid offensive line.  It’s been said that former Ravens Head Coach Ted Marchibroda wanted to go exclusively to a no-huddle offense, but he didn’t believe the defense could hold up to the additional time on the field. Fast forward to 2012...

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...