FILMSTUDY: Early Breakdowns, Short Field Doom Ravens D

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Early Breakdowns, Short Field Doom Ravens D

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This was a hard game to re-watch for so many reasons.  In addition to the result, the game was the first this year not broadcast in HD, making it more difficult than normal to record the players.  The pass rush continued its disappearing act.  In a game where the Ravens racked up 418 yards, 26 1st downs, and were in Cleveland territory on every drive (except the last when the game ended at their own 26), the offense still managed just 13 points.  I’m still hoarse from screaming at the TV set for the no huddle in the 3rd quarter.  The Cleveland defense was on the field for 73 plays, the Ravens only 48 (including 2 kneels).
Vs. the Rush: 28 plays for 101 yards, 3.6 YPC excluding the 2 kneels
Vs. the Pass: 18 pass plays for 204 yards,11.3 YPP
Overall: 46 plays for 305 yards, 6.6 YPPA (again excluding the kneels)
By defensive set:
3 DB’s: 4 plays, -1 yards.  The Ravens used this 3 safety set (Landry, Reed, Sapp) in goal line situations.
Standard (4 DB’s):  27 plays, 159 yards, 5.9 YPPA, 1 TO
Nickel (5 DB’s): 14 plays, 98 yards, 7.0 YPPA
Dime (6 DB’s): 1 play, 49 yards
By number of pass rushers:
3: 1 play for 6 yards, 6.0
4: 12 plays for 116 yards, 9.7, 1 TO
5: 2 plays for 57 yards, 28.5
6. 2 plays for 25 yards, 12.5
7: 1 play for 0 yards
The Ravens had 0 sacks and only the 1 turnover mentioned above.
·          As you can see above, nothing worked in the pass rush.  The Ravens have now sacked the QB just 1 time in 85 pass plays with Justin Bannan on the field in 2006-07.  Thus far in 2007, they are also 0 for 32 with Edwards on the field.  The biggest disappointment for the season remains the 4-man pass rush, which has resulted in just 1 sack in 68 pass plays this season.
·          The dime, which had been effective to date, was only on the field for 1 play, the 49 yard catch and run by Winslow.  In reviewing the down and distance for the 1st half, it’s not tough to see why this happened.  The Browns faced 3/1, 3/3, 3/2, 3/3, 3/8, 3/4, and 3/3 in the first Half.  In the 2nd half, when the 3rd down distances were longer, the Browns were running out the clock.  Antwan Barnes was on the field for just 6 snaps, and Gerome Sapp for only 2 goal-line plays.
·          Ronnie Prude was replaced by Martin at NB.  Prude did not play well vs. the Cards, as the Ravens allowed 100 yards on 10 plays while in the nickel.  Martin followed it up with another forgettable effort (7.0 YPPA in the nickel, 9.8 YPPA).  The Ravens need Samari Rolle back both for the outside cover and so Ivy can be moved back to NB.
·          The goal line defense with 3 safeties was on the field for 4 plays and effectively stopped the run.  Those were the first plays McAlister has missed this season.
·          Suggs was replaced by Gary Stills (his first defensive action) for 2 running plays, 17 yards
·          Gregg and Ngata were both on the field for 39 of the 46 plays (excluding kneels).  Gregg, in particular, could have benefited from another rotational DT.  Ngata was again exceptional vs. the run.  The Ravens allowed just 52 yards on 23 rushing plays (2.3 YPC) with Ngata in and 5/49 (9.8 YPC) with him out.
·          Despite their terrific takeaway total, the 2006 Ravens did not convert every turnover opportunity.  However, the 2007 Ravens have now missed at least 4 good chances (Suggs bobbled FR, 2 McAlister near picks, and Scott Sunday).  Scott did not even have his hands up for the pick, preferring to focus on the PD when he had the open field.
·          Poor kick coverage and Figurs’ fumble allowed the Browns to start with excellent field position (Cle 45, Bal 31) on 2 of their TD drives.
What’s Wrong with the Ravens Pass Rush
·          Right now the Ravens are simply covering for the weakness in the secondary with fewer 5+ man rushes.  This is manifested in fewer blitz opportunities for Scott and Johnson.
·          Pryce was replaced by Edwards.  That was about as big a loss as you can take with 1 player shift.  Take a look at Edwards v. the Cardinals.  Not only does he have a painfully slow first step, he does not even move the tackle to the outside, creating opportunities for delayed blitzes the Ravens used very effectively last season.  The Ravens have 0 sacks in 32 pass plays with Edwards on the field this season.
·          Bannan, the other possible replacement is also thoroughly impotent in the pass rush.  Despite piling up 66 sacks since the beginning of ’06, the Ravens have sacked the QB just 1 time in 85 pass plays with him on the field in his 2 years.
·          With Scott not being used more frequently in pass coverage, the team has really just 2 pass rushers (Suggs and Barnes).   I’m defining that as a player that can beat a single blocker a good percentage of the time with some speed.  Last year they had 4 (Pryce, Suggs, Thomas, Scott), and those players were on the field every down.  Their remaining defensive players, but most prominently Johnson and Ngata are supporting pass rush players.  Ngata regularly takes a double, and Johnson often paralyzes 2 defenders with a good first step and hands, even when he subsequently drops to zone coverage. Johnson and Ngata were #1 and #2 in sacks as a % of passing plays in 2006 despite respectively contributing just 1.5 and 1 sack personally.
·          Johnson, who might be able to apply pressure as a pure DE, is too valuable at LB to move.
·          Every sack this year has been in the dime and a result of confusion/overloads.  It should scare the hell out of us that 4 of our 6 sacks have come from DB’s.  Those sacks are the icing on the cake, but are no substitute for a 4-man pass rush needed to hurry the QB on an every down basis.

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time. If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens. More from Ken McKusick


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