FILMSTUDY: Pass Protection Not to Blame for Struggles in Cleveland


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 correct.  In fact, after review of both the broadcast and coaches video, the only lineman who might have been guilty was Shipley.  Since I can see no clear evidence of the perp, we’ll charge that penalty to Oniel Cousins, the worst Raven ever to wear number 64.

Monroe:  While McKinnie showed occasional flashes, the Ravens haven’t had a good LT since Gaither in 2009.  Monroe did a fine job in pass protection versus a talented Browns’ pass rush.  He was bulled by Sheard for a pressure (Q2, 7:54), but otherwise made all of his pass blocks.  He missed 3 run blocks, but did not allow a penetration nor was he penalized.  He has the athleticism to pull (once on Sunday) or make effective run blocks in level 2, but that’s a side salad to pass-blocking success at LT.  Scoring:  63 blocks, 3 missed, 1 pressure, 61 points (.91 per play).  A.  Monroe was a quality LT the last 2 seasons.  However, it’s mildly surprising that he can switch teams/systems at midseason and improve his level of play so much.  He should be made a signing priority.

Shipley:  A.Q. had his first start at guard in place of Kelechi Osemele.  He was beaten inside by Sheard (Q2, 6:51) for pressure as Flacco threw incomplete.  I charged him with 1/3 of the sack by Groves (Q1, 4:06) when he and Gradkowski were beaten by Mingo for the initial pressure.  He pulled left on the 2-yard loss by Rice (Q1, 6:17).  On that play, he hesitated as Sheard penetrated past Brown and Dickson, then continued left, but obstructed Rice on his way to find a block.  Scoring:  62 blocks, 2 missed, 1 penetration, 1 pressure, 1/3 sack, 53 points (.79 per play).  Without adjustment, that would be a C at guard, but he was facing a tough interior line, so I’d credit him .04 points/play which would move him to a C+.

Gradkowski:  When I scored Matt Birk’s play, I wondered if I was doing something wrong because he had so few missed blocks and pass-rushing events.  Birk always knew his assignment which meant his pass-blocking failures were primarily one-on-one losses.  He was less likely to fail to pick up a stunt or delay.  I don’t believe Gradkowski is any more imposing physically than Birk was in 2012, but he also suffers from limited NFL experience and that affects his ability to recognize change in the form of pre-snap movement, delays, and stunts.  It’s funny that last year Ravens fans complained about a center that wasn’t getting much push.  I’m guessing those same folks are now pleading for a center who can simply hold his ground.  Scoring:  58 blocks, 3 missed, 1.5 penetrations, 1.5 pressures, 1/3 QH, 1/3 sack, 47 points (.73 per play).  With an adjustment of .04 for the talent on the Browns interior DL, that’s still a D- at center.

Yanda:  His play fell off after a good game against the Steelers.  Some of that is the difference between Taylor/Rubin and Hood, but that doesn’t explain some failed pickups in pass blocking.  Scoring:  61 blocks, 1 missed, ½ penetration, ½ pressure, 1.5 (3 X ½) sacks, 50 points (.75 per play).  C.  His 23-game streak of not being party to a single sack ended at Miami.  Beginning with that game, he has had some responsibility for 6 sacks in 4 games.

Oher:  Michael had an apathetic game reminiscent of McKinnie.  The worst instance came on the first play of Q2 when he inexplicably allowed Jackson to fill the right B gap that forced Pierce outside for a loss of 2.  I’ll give you the horse-racing-form version of his 6 negative pass-blocking events:


  • (Q1, 4:10) Bulled by Groves for pressure
  • (Q1, 4:06) Beaten outside by Groves for 1/3 sack
  • (Q2, 1:01) Failed to maintain block on Bryant for ½ sack
  • (Q2, 0:55) Beaten outside by Kruger for pressure
  • (Q3, 3:20) Bulled by Kruger for PD
  • (Q4, 0:07) Beaten outside by Kruger for pressure

His highlight, along with that for Leach and Dickson came on Flacco’s rugby-scrum QB sneak (Q4, 8:47) where those 3 “blockers” did an outstanding job of pushing their QB past the marker.  Scoring:  57 blocks, 3 missed, 2 penetrations, 4 pressures, 5/6 (1/2 + 1/3) sack, 42 points (.58 per play).  D.

Despite the mediocre scores/grades you see above and 5 sacks recorded by the Browns, Flacco had ample time and space (ATS) on a season high 67% (31 of 46) of dropbacks (For a further explanation of ATS, click here).  In fact, Joe underperformed his opportunity set by 103 yards!  Harbaugh is being entirely forthright when he says the pass blocking held up well.

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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...more

13 Raves on “FILMSTUDY: Pass Protection Not to Blame for Struggles in Cleveland

  1. reilly on said:

    I thought the play where Shipley obstructed Rice’s path was interesting. It seemed to me, that if Shipley had been there a step sooner, it could have been an excellent play on his part, but it might be unfair to expect such a result. On the other hand, if he had been a step slower, he probably wouldn’t have obstructed Rice’s path, but Rice probably would have been tackled by Sheard anyway(was it Sheard? I really don’t know). If, as you seem to say, Brown and Dickson allowed the initial penetration, it seems kind of hard to totally blame Shipley for how things turned out there.

    I was just thinking that similar to how they record “errors” in baseball, this would perhaps not count as a mistake, so much as a failure to do something exceptional. I think Rice was probably doomed either way on that run. Did you have any thoughts on this? Nice article, as always.

  2. Mr. Oldman on said:

    I may be burned at the stake for suggesting this, and I’m well aware how bad our OL is. I bleed b&p so it pains me to ask the question. Could it be possible that Ray Rice has hit the RB career wall? I compared Ray’s career stats vs. Jamal Lewis. I know they had different running styles (J was a banger), and I know Ray keeps himself in impeccable shape, but he also a smaller man. For their careers (college and pro), Jamal had 3289 touches (rushes+receptions) to Ray’s 2598. More significant I think is the yardage. Jamal totaled 15,107 to Ray’s 13,887. The difference is basically Jamal’s Cleveland days. Ray was way overused at Rutgers (910 carries), and who knows what happened in High School (sorry, didn’t research that far). Hate to go there, but just sayin’.

    • Ravenmaniac on said:

      It has seemed to me the last two years that Ray has lost a lot of explosiveness. He is still an extremely valuable player based on his attitude and intangibles but it’s clear he is not capable of the electric plays of his first few years. Just compare him (now) with a Giovani Bernard, a player whom I consider to have a similar game, and you can tell that RR is no longer in the top echelon of RBs. That being said, if we could get him to the second level instead of hit being hit 2 yards behind the LOS he would look a lot better.

  3. Phil on said:

    It’s interesting to see how much your grading differs from PFF.
    PFF has Gradkowski as the second best run defender and pass protector from Sunday, second overall grade on the team. Eugene Monroe led the team, no surprise.
    AQ Shipley got the worst grade on the line, second worst overall, and had the worst run blocking grade.
    Just very interesting to see how you grade these. I thought Gino has improved his play in recent weeks.

    • Filmstudy on said:

      I am going to see if it’s easy to publish my actual scoresheet from Sunday, so everyone can see what I’m working with and what plays I scored negatively for their favorite linemen.

      Gino did improve slightly this week, but I scored him for parts of 4 negative pass blocking events while PFF scored him for just 1 QH. That’s the main difference in scoring.

      • jim from dundalk on said:

        you also have to take into consideration the quality of competition , filmstudy does,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I will be surprised if he lets this comment stay , he has deleted my last three……………………..and they were truthful , sometimes it hurts……………..

          • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

            My wife rather enjoys how he slams me incessantly…all of those Dundalkians…Jim, Jimmy, Spy and Mystery Man who apparently use the same computer.

          • Black and blue on said:

            Tiresome indeed (the repetitive comments from Dundalkians sharing the computer with the sticking comma key). And yet predictable.

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