I have a gift/curse of recalling a good amount of sitcom dialog from my youth. Sadly, the Ravens current state reminds me of a line from Gilligan’s Island.
A meteor landed on the island and its radioactive emissions were slowly killing the seven stranded castaways. The Professor can only suggest that a stroke of lightning might destroy the meteor (I didn’t say this was a good plot), but admits that the odds of that happening must be a million to one. The Skipper asks “What’s worse than that?” to which Gilligan wittily replies “A million to none.”
At this point, I don’t really care how the Ravens make the playoffs. A promising 3-0 start with dreams of a bye is gone. A less-talented Bengals team has an insurmountable 3-game lead on the division with their clutch play. At this point, I’d be happy with an ugly 9-7 or 10-6 with a convincing win over the Steelers. But I can honestly say I think the small chance to win 4 straight road games in the playoffs is worth 5-7 slots in the draft order.
The Ravens’ defensive statistics exclude 1 kneel:
Overall: 67 plays, 354 yards, 5.3 YPPA
Vs. the Run: 26 carries, 95 yards, 3.7 YPC
Vs. the Pass: 41 pass plays, 259 yards, 6.3 YPP
By number of Pass Rushers:
3: 1/8, 8.0 YPPA
4: 26/152, 5.8 YPP, 1 sack, 1 TO
5: 9/83, 9.2 YPP, 2 TO
6: 4/11, 2.8 YPP
By number of Defensive Backs:
3: 1/2, 2.0 YPPA
4: 34/173, 5.1 YPPA, 2 TO
5: 28/114, 4.1 YPPA, 1 sack
6: 4/65, 16.3 YPPA, 1 TO
· Ellerbe and Gooden alternated playing time. I would like to see them both getting time over the next few games, although I thought Ellerbe looked better on Monday. The Ravens played Gooden for 11 straight plays, then Ellerbe for the next 21, McClain for 1 (goal line), Gooden for 18, Ellerbe for 17, then Gooden for the last 7. I’m sure the coaching staff had their reasons, but I think that defeats some of the value of rest. I really don’t understand why McClain’s role has been so reduced. He certainly could have played some of Barnes’ 22 snaps at DE.
· Barnes and Kruger alternated time. Kruger’s 44 plays were a new career high after playing 25, 7, and 23 the last 3 games. Kruger had 5 tackles and had a sack wiped out by Edwards’ illegal use of hands (Q3, 10:06). One of my knocks on Barnes has been his lack of an inside pass rush move. The vast majority of the time, he uses a speed rush when lining up at DE. However, he was held by Clifton (Q1, 1:52) on an inside move Monday. That and 1 tackle were Antwan’s defensive contributions.
· Dwan Edwards returned to a more normal 36 snaps. He had an ill-timed penalty (see above), but otherwise continued his aggressive play of the last few weeks. He made 5 more tackles and drew a holding call (Q3, 0:49) on Tauscher.
· Options are limited with only 6 DBs that the coaches put on the field, but the Ravens did not use much pass rush variety. Only 5 times in 41 drop backs did the Ravens bring deceptive pressure. Some of this was probably done to protect the depleted secondary, but sacking Rodgers just once can’t be considered a success. There are those who would say the Ravens held Rodgers well under his season passer rating (87.8 vs. 103.3 for the season, including the Ravens game), but Rodgers also had 4 rushes for 30 yards and the 4 pass interference calls totaling 80 yards, so his rating Monday significantly understates his success when dropping back.
· Zibby was used primarily as the deep safety. When scoring, that’s apparent, since it’s the position that most often goes unseen. Tom has been used as a pass rusher in both the dime and quarter in his first 2 seasons, but has rarely set up deep with that job going primarily to Nakamura when Reed has sat a few plays. It was very nice to see him get the centerfielder’s pick and also nice that he was positioned for a 2nd. Of his tackles, 2 came on long pass plays (29 and 21 yards) and just 1 in run support.
· Landry missed 4 plays during which Carr entered to play safety. That was an interesting choice given that Gerard dressed and has practiced with the team most of the season. The Packers threw incomplete passes on 3 of those and the 4th was completed for 5 yards plus the Lewis face mask. Landry’s 5 tackles came 29, 14, 14 (all passes), 5, and 3 (runs) yards off the LoS, so I don’t think it would be accurate to say he had a good game in run support despite the fact he was lined up near the line more often than deep. He contributed a PI to the Ravens ledger. After a decent 5-game stretch since the break, Landry regressed on Monday. I’m unsure as to what the Ravens will do at the end of this season should a new CBA be negotiated. Landry will be a
· The Ravens again played 2 different nickels with Walker (14 non-penalty snaps) and Carr (17 snaps) each seeing action. Despite the assortment of nickel and dime packages, the Ravens allowed 8.3 yards per play on 3rd down passes.
· With 3rd and 1 (Q2, 2:00), the Ravens lined up in the nickel, essentially conceding the 1st down to Rodgers’ sneak.
· Monday’s most frustrating defensive play (Q4, 11:23) was Rodgers’ 14 yard completion to Driver where the Packers’ star was uncovered in the slot. Without very special down/distance or game conditions, the Ravens never leave a slot receiver uncovered. They may blitz off the slot, have 2 players of varying depth against 2 close receivers, or simply jam and release with a linebacker, but on this particular 1st and 10 play, Jarret Johnson lined up on the edge. Rodgers saw the alignment, and immediately threw the ball and the leaping Johnson was unable to bat it away. Driver knifed through to the 19 and the Packers scored on the very next play to extend their lead back to 10. Ed Reed’s absence was most sorely felt on that play.
Carr’s FF recovered by Walker (Q3, 8:15). With the Packers driving and the ball at the 41, the turnover ended the drive and the Ravens would drive for their first TD.
JJ’s pick (Q3, 3:22). Good hands and the Ravens would take just 3 plays to score and cut the lead to 3.
The Ravens 3rd down stop of Rodgers (Q4, 15:00). JJ ran the Packers QB to the sideline 11 yards short of a 1st down. The Ravens would have their best shot, but failed to convert from their own 28 and the Packers would go back up by 10 on their next drive.