FILMSTUDY: Ravens pass rush doesn’t deliver v. Detroit Lions

upshaw_kruger

Ravens Fail to Get Home versus Lions

With the loss of Suggs and just 2 sacks in the first 2 preseason games, Ravens fans are understandably concerned about the pass rush.

New Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees already has a reputation for complex blitz schemes.  I wanted to see if I could come up with an objective measure to analyze that tag.  We spent a couple of hours Saturday charting the pass rush including:

·         Identification of each player at the line of scrimmage in a 2 or 3-point stance inside the slot receivers

·         Identification of each player who rushed, categorized as down, standing, or blitzing

·         Blitzers (who I am defining as not within 1.5 yards of the LoS at the snap or lined up not closer than opposite a slot receiver)

·         Players who dropped to cover from the LoS (whether down or standing)

·         An indication as to whether the rush was deceptive based on a definition I have posted here before

·         A categorization of the pocket integrity including, in decreasing order of QB comfort:

o    Ample Time and Space (ATS–some of you will recognize this from the offensive line scoring of the last couple of years)

o    Standard (the QB does not have ATS but no defender is credited with a pressure)

o    Pressure (pocket integrity is significantly reduced or even flushed.  At least 1 defensive player will be credited with a pressure on such a play, but no sack or QH is recorded)

o    QH (the quarterback is knocked to the ground, but not sacked)

o    Sack

·         Schematic and subjective notes

I reviewed each pass play, excluding scrambles.  For individual purposes, I included both roughing the passer calls and the offside call on Upshaw.  None of those flags had a material impact on the pressure.  I’ve excluded the accepted penalties from the team totals below so the passing statistics will match the game totals.

Results from the game vs. Det:

Pass Rush by Number of Rushers

# Rush

Plays

Yards

YPP

TO

ATS

Stand

Press

QH

Sack

Deceptive

3

2

0

          -  

0

1

0

1

0

0

1

4

28

218

        7.8

0

15

3

9

0

0

3

5

14

123

        8.8

0

5

2

5

3

0

7

6

1

0

          -  

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

All

45

341

        7.6

0

21

5

16

3

0

12

Pass Rush by Level of Pressure

Plays

Att

C

Yards

YPP

TD

Sack

TO

QBR

ATS

21

21

16

214

10.2

1

0

0

123.9

Standard

5

5

5

42

8.4

0

0

0

101.7

Pressure

16

16

6

67

4.2

1

0

0

71.6

QH

3

3

2

18

6.0

0

0

0

82.6

Sack

0

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

N/A

All

45

45

29

341

7.6

2

0

0

102.2

Notes:

·         Stafford had ATS on 12 of 17 attempts and burned the Ravens for 184 yards (10.8 YPP)

·         Others had ATS on 9 of 28 passes, threw for 157 yards, and averaged just 5.6 YPP

·         I included quarterback rating to make the simple point that with more pressure reduces a QB’s effectiveness, but we should not necessarily conclude that a rating of 71.6 is bad for throwing under pressure (in fact, if the whole league were charted in a similar manner, I’d guess it would be well above average), nor that a rating of 123.9 with ATS is outstanding.

·         Both the ATS and non-ATS results are somewhat better than what Flacco has produced the past 2 seasons

·         The 12 deceptive pass rushes were more than I have ever scored

·         No individual Raven stood out in the pass rush, but McClain got pressure on both blitzes among 4 total pass rush attempts

·         Pernell McPhee led the team in disruptions with 3 pressures and a QH, but he had just 1 pressure in 18 rushes versus the starters.

·         The Gamebook shows just 1 QH, but I scored one for Pollard (Q1, 9:58) and one for Graham (Q2, 13:38)

Subjectively, I’d say:

·         Pees is similar to Pagano in rushes with modest numbers

·         He uses even more deception than Pagano did

·         He likes to blitz off the slot, but Pagano showed a pair of outside corner blitzes in last year’s preseason

·         He’s not afraid to drop a down lineman to coverage (Jones 2, Hall 2, Ngata 1, Kindle 1, McPhee 1, Upshaw 1, Kruger 1)

·         One of the reasons the pressure wasn’t tremendously effective may have been the fact that this was a preseason game.  More crowd noise would have made pre-snap communication more difficult and might have improved the result.

As a side note, I won’t be able to do this every week during the regular season, but if there is someone else out there who would like to pick it up, I’d be happy to send you a score sheet and discuss the method.

Individual Grades and Notes (Score vs. Lions/cumulative score for preseason)

Brown, Omar (+1/+3):  What a journey for Brown.  Game 2 may have looked better than it was, but he certainly has a nose for the football. On the plus side, he had the goal-line fumble recovery (Q4, 13:00), and recovered the on-side kick with what in slow motion seem to be skills very useful for collecting  a loose, bouncing  football.  Harbaugh and Rosburg seem to like him and he was in as Koch’s personal protector for the blocked punt (Q4, 15:00).  Nigel Carr was responsible for the block of Young, but after he whiffed, Carr is the one who had to pick him up and he did not.  Brown nonetheless managed to fall on the blocked punt to avoid further damage.  Because it was behind the line of scrimmage, Carr could have advanced that ball, but it’s doubtful he would have been able to get the first down with a Lion in the immediate vicinity.  As weird as these 2 games have been, a first down on that play would have been a capper. 

Brown, Ricky (+1/+2):  He had another game with several nice plays and is clearly outplaying Carr, if they are indeed in competition for an ILB/special teams spot.  Given the Ravens need to find another coverage LB, his biggest play was the PD (Q3, 5:22).  He cleaned up on Carr’s missed tackle (Q3, 7:09), helped clean up on Kitchen’s penetration (Q3, 6:36), audibly stood up Bell to hold him to a gain of 1 (Q413:51), and worked off the pulling Austin to take down Green for a gain of 3 (Q4, 9:14).

Carr (-3/-4):  He led the team in tackles per the Gamebook, but had the worst game of any Raven.  It’s not a good sign when your bad plays (particularly in an exhibition game) require bullet points to enumerate.  He:

·         Lost coverage of Wells (who dropped the pass, Q3, 10:09)

·         Was called for holding (far from the ball) to nullify Jackson’s amazing punt return (Q3, 9:19)

·         Missed a tackle on Bell (Q3, 7:09) that led to first-down yardage (the Gamebook incorrectly credits him with this tackle)

·         Overran the pass to Dillard (Q3, 5;16)

·         Whiffed on the block of Young who blocked Koch’s punt (Q4, 15:00)

·         Failed to get free of his block on Bell’s 20-yard run/fumble (Q4, 13:00)

·         Was evaded by Green (Q4, 7:19) for 11 YAC

·         Was blocked effectively (there were several effective blocks on the play) by Wells to help open the lane for Green’s 76-yard TD (Q4, 0:53)

To find a positive, he had decent coverage of Overbay and a quick takedown to hold the gain to 4 (Q3, 14:31).  He also had 2 quick takedowns on the edge where he used his speed well (Q4, 8:35, for example).  He certainly looks like an athlete, but he needs to start making plays.

Cody (-1/0):  He rushed the passer 12 times without any sort of disruption and did not have a tackle.

Considine (-1/-1):  He was late in coverage of CJ on the 57-yard completion deep left (Q2, 13:57).  Billick commented that Williams expected help over the top and the Ravens certainly should have had a 2nd layer for Megatron.  He had excellent screen coverage of Bell (Q2, 2:55) which went incomplete.  I was a little surprised that his hit on Williams did not dislodge the ball that the RB tipped to himself (Q2, 9:13).  He took a bad angle to the tackle on Broyles (Q2, 2:00) on a play that went for 18 yards.

Cook (-1/-1):  Cook’s highlight was a pressure on Hill (Q2, 4:13) that fluttered incomplete to Heller.  Cook leapt high and may have tipped the ball.  However, he missed the tackle on the TD pass to Titus Young (Q2, 7:58) and was too soft covering Pettigrew (Q2, 9:53) on his 15-yard catch and run. 

Ellerbe (+1/0):  He was active and tied for the team lead in tackles after missing the first game.  His highlight was penetration and tackle of Williams (Q3, 15:00) that resulted in a gain of just 1.  He took down Dillard quickly (Q3, 13:21) to hold his reception to a gain of 5 without YAC. He was also positioned well for the tackle of Williams (Q3, 8:37) for a gain of 2.

Gorrer (0/0):  Danny had another unspectacular game.  He effectively backpedaled causing Logan to hesitate on his long kick return (Q2, 14:06).  He had good coverage of Stovall (Q2, 0:50) which went incomplete, but was beaten inside and blocked out by Hughes (Q3, 5:57) for a gain of 18.

Graham, Corey (+1/+1):  Pees seems to love rushing him off the slot which he did 7 times on Friday, including a QH (Q2, 13:38).  He’ll need to cause disruption with more frequency to have that gamble pay off.  He effectively stretched Williams wide (Q3, 10:58) to hold him to a gain of 2 on a run left.

Hall (-1/+1):  He rushed the passer 14 times on Friday, generating just 1 pressure (Q3, 14:31).  That was a step back from his explosive first game.

Jackson (+3/+3):  In addition to one of the most exciting punt returns you’ll ever see (Q3, 9:19), he made plays at corner including a stick of Bell on a screen left (Q4, 14:52) and the PD/near INT (Q4, 4:36).

Jones (+1/+1):  Jones will have an increased role this season with the departure of Redding.  He was inactive for the first game, but registered 3 pressures in 18 pass rush attempts against the Lions.  All of his pressure was applied against the relief, but PFF scored Jones with just 1 QH and 3 hurries in 136 pass rushes last season, so Friday’s results are encouraging.

Kemoeatu (+2/+2):  Kemo was the brightest spot along the defensive line.  His highlight was his 4-yard penetration and takedown of Simth (Q1, 10:26), but he also made a contribution as a pass rusher.  He had a pressure (Q1, 3:08) in 7 rushes and also flushed Stafford (Q1, 3:50) which forced the Lions QB to run for 1 yard.  As the season wears on, it will be interesting to see how he and Cody split playing time, but I’m no longer concerned about the Ravens’ depth at DT.

Kindle (-2/-1):  On the play he was injured, he was outraced to the edge by Williams (Q2, 10:34).  He did not get pressure on either of 2 pass rush attempts.  If he can’t return to the field this preseason, I would assume his career as a Raven will end.

Kruger (+1/+1):  He got pressure on 3 of his 12 pass rushes, including a nice spin move (Q2, 0:50).  He needs to be careful not to lead with his helmet, but I don’t think that flag would have been thrown every time.  He had a PD in coverage of Pettigrew (Q1, 3:08) which was aided by Kemo’s pressure.  The reason he’s still being graded in his 4th season is the increased reliance on him as an edge setter.  He did more right than wrong Friday with the highlight a takedown of Williams (Q2, 5:20).

McClellan (0/+1):  It’s going to be interesting to see how the Ravens use him this season.  He again started at RDE and rushed the passer from a 3-point stance on 9 of 11 occasions.  He registered 2 pressures (Q3, 13:58, standing and Q3, 9:27, down).  Despite significant playing time, he did not record a tackle.

Thomson, Christian (0/0):  Thompson missed a tackle on Bell’s 23-yard screen (Q4, 6:01) shortly after forcing Bell’s fumble near the goal line (Q4, 13:00).  The Ravens appear to have a mixed bag of safeties with special teams talent and less obvious defensive value.  I’d be surprised, however, if they can’t find 2 solid backup safeties among Omar Brown, Considine, Cook, and Thompson.

Smith (-1/-1):  It was a disappointing outing for Smith’s first game back, but the fact that he was beaten by Johnson should not be a huge concern.  He failed to find the ball when he had position and would have had a play on Johnson’s TD catch (Q2, 12:25).  He took down Johnson quickly (Q2, 13:32) to limit a gain to 8 yards.  He avoided the screen blockers (Q2, 11:42), but was unable to get back to make the tackle on Kevin Smith which went for a gain of 21.

Tyson (0/+1):  He had 2 pressures on 10 pass rushes from the middle of the 3rd quarter on.  He was sealed by Fox on Green’s long TD run (Q4, 0:53).  Barring injury, I don’t see how the Ravens can make room for him and the Ravens frequently have their practice squad raided by other teams looking for DL help. 

Upshaw, Courtney (-1/-1):  He had 17 pass rushing opportunities and recorded 3 pressures on Friday.  That’s not bad, but the failure to take down Hill (Q2, 2:51) is a concern.  He had the QB wrapped and his hand on the ball, but Hill amazingly pulled his arm free and unloaded the ball before McPhee could arrive to knock him down.  He lined up offside once and did not make the score sheet on a run play.

Williams, Cary (-1/-2):  No one could cover CJ, so that’s not the reason for worry, but Cary is returning from a hip injury and does not seem to have the same speed he once had.  Some good receivers and quarterbacks have been making him look bad in bold relief.

 

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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

One Rave about “FILMSTUDY: Ravens pass rush doesn’t deliver v. Detroit Lions

  1. Rxdoxx on said:

    Thanks Filmstudy, great work, appreciated!
    Was saiting for this to get forum linked for comments but maybe not going to happen, so I’ll ask here.
    Nice to see documentation/confirmation of what I was registering about Nigel Carr. But one more thing… did you notice that he seemed to be also only jogging following some plays that had gotten by him? I remember one runner breaking through 2 waves of tacklers before finally going down at the sideline, and Carr jogging following looking like he expected the wave to do the job and never hustling to get there as fast as he could.
    Also IMO he may have been able to recover that fumble, except he was still where he was blocked at (there was no blocker between him and the goal-line, but he wasn’t moving.
    You see anything to confirm this feeling of mine? Thanks

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