FILMSTUDY: Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Titans 9/18/11

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Titans 9/18/11

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The Ravens could not duplicate their fine effort from week 1 and lost in Tennessee.  The offensive frustrations are great and we’ll get to some of those later, but I need to do some housekeeping first.

Let me start with a few comments about the scoring system first, because it’s intended to provide a transparent, objective measure to go with my subjective analysis.  I’ve seen it quoted elsewhere and I think there are some misconceptions in play.

It primarily penalizes pass-blocking errors and is necessarily simple, because I wanted a system to score the game in 1 hour.  My scoresheet has become much more complicated over the last 4 years, so it now takes approximately 2 and a half hours to review and record the offensive notes and scoring, formation, blocking, opponent pass rush, etc for the offense.

There are differences in relative scoring by position.  The center, because he sets the pass-blocking assignments, typically is credited with a block and is rarely charged with a sack/QH/or pressure unless he’s beaten straight up or blows a stunt pickup.  His score is therefore typically higher.  As you move out, guards are less likely to be left without a dance partner on a pass play, and tackles must most frequently determine who to block and are assigned the highest quality edge rushers.  For that reason, their scores are lowest on average and have the greatest variation.  Based on the years I’ve been doing this, I’d say and "A-F" effort for a center, guard, or tackle respectively would be as follows:

Minimum Per-Play Score

by Grade Level
























If I were to assign grades, I’d add a subjective adjustment for elements such as the quality of run blocks, quality of opponent, contribution to big plays, and any other events where I didn’t think the grade for the play accurately reflected the player’s contribution.

The Ravens had just 52 offensive snaps without any kneels or spikes:

McKinnie:  Bryant took a big step backwards from week 1.  He was beaten outside by the stunting Klug (Q2, 0:29) for a sack that was a little slow to develop, but was nonetheless his responsibility.  Just 2 plays later, he was beaten by an inside spin by Ball for another sack.  That developed slowly, but is a good example where Flacco could use a little more time with 7 dropping to coverage.  He had another QH surrendered to Ball (Q2, 8:01) that I scored as shared with Rice.  His 4 missed run blocks were all runs to the middle or right.  On 3 of those occasions, he moved into level 2, but did not make a block.  He had 1 block in level 2 and 1 pancake.  Scoring:  45 blocks, 4 missed, 1/2 QH, 2 sacks, 31.5 points (.61 per play). 

Levoir:  Mark continues to look, as he did in the preseason, like a tackle playing guard.  He had a miss or negative result on 9 of his run-blocking opportunities, including a penetration that resulted in the Rickey Williams fumble (Q2, 12:48).  He missed on his only pull attempt.  While he generally had a decent day pass blocking, he was beaten inside by Casey (Q3, 1:59).  I heard rumors prior to the game that Gurode would start and it surprised me that he did not.  Since the game the Ravens sit had a story saying Gurode is “In the discussion” for time at LG if Grubbs is forced to sit for more time.  I don’t think Levoir’s performance is an accurate representation of how he would contribute as a tackle, but you can see by the table above and score below that this game is an F by the standard for guards.  Scoring:  41 blocks, 8 missed, 1.5 penetrations, 1 QH, 35 points (.67 per play).

Birk:  Matt’s play was much improved from the Steelers game.  He had some push and wasn’t giving ground the way he did in week 1.  After missing 2 blocks in the 1st half, including a highly-visible belly flop on the TD screen to Rice (Q2, 4:49), he made all of his 2nd-half blocks.  I noted 2 blocks in level 2 and 1 pancake.  Scoring:  50 blocks, 2 missed, 50 points (.96 per play).

Yanda:   For the 2nd straight week, Yanda was the star of the Ravens offensive line.  He had no significant pass blocking errors and missed just 2 run blocks.  He pulled 3 times and connected on each.  He had 3 blocks in level 2 and 2 pancakes.  Marshal received no Pro Bowl support (no level of alternate) last season despite a fine season at RT.  I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make his first appearance this season.  Scoring:  50 blocks, 2 missed, 50 points (.96 per play).

Oher:  Michael was twice flagged for false starts.  That element of his play is more correctable, but was hardly the only problem Sunday.  He allowed a pressure on a failed stunt handoff (Q2, 14:10), was beaten outside by Ball which led to Rice being taken down for a loss of 2 (Q1, 14:24), and was beaten inside by Morgan for a sack on the game’s last play.  Scoring:  46 blocks, 3 missed, 2 penetrations/pressures, 1 sack, 2 false starts, 30 points (.58 per play).

Other Offensive Notes:

·         The Ravens played every snap with 5 offensive linemen.

·         The Ravens did not play any unbalanced line.

·         I scored Flacco with ample time and space (ATS) on 19 of 35 drop backs (54%).  That’s a high percentage of ATS, but with 7 consistently in coverage (see below), even more is required.

·         With ATS, Flacco completed 10 of 19 throws for 124 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT (6.5 YPP).  That’s an extremely poor result with ATS, but when a team gets effective pressure with 4, they can be effective defending even a QB with good time to throw.

·         Without ATS Joe was 5 of 13 for 78 yards (65 net including 3 sacks for -13, 4.1 YPP) with 1 TD and 1 INT.  He fumbled once, but recovered it himself.

·         The Titans rushed 4 on 26 (plus 3 men on 3 other plays) of 35 non-penalty snaps that resulted in a pass or sack.  Only 6 (!) times did they rush 5+.  When that happens the need to both generate and extend ATS is greater because slow-developing routes have a higher likelihood to succeed.  TEs who find the weak spots in a zone or drift into the pattern late, Ray Rice in space, and high-motor receivers like Boldin who continually work to get open after running their route are useful tonics.  The Ravens scored their TD on a screen to Rice, but he was covered well for most of the day.  The Ravens had very few other positive results that developed slowly.

·         I’m not sure exactly what Yanda was communicating to Birk (when the Ravens lined up in the shotgun) or the rest of the line with his pre snap look around and thigh taps, but I suspect it was an attempt to keep Birk from having to look between his legs for a snap indicator.  If this was intended to reduce false starts, I think we’d have to say it failed (see Oher, Michael).  If it was intended to get the Ravens players an advantage at the snap, I’d say there were several Titans that had it figured out and timed much in the way Birk’s but bobbing had also been analyzed.  If the intent was to give Birk (and perhaps Yanda himself as well) a better opportunity to exploit his assignment, then I’d say it was a success.  Birk and Yanda both played very well.

·         I’m always bothered when a team moves to a hurry-up offense later rather than sooner.  This game was worse than most given the circumstances.  The Ravens last full drive started with 12:00 left in the game and the Ravens trailing by 13.  The Ravens went to a shotgun offense at that point, but huddled up each play.  While they moved the ball effectively, with results/gains of 5, 10, 32, 8, 3, Incomplete, 16, and 3 over the next 8 snaps, that used 4:45 of the clock.  The no huddle might have cut the time used in half, but it might also have exposed some weaknesses in the Titans’ defense.  Rushing with 4 men is very tiring, and the Titans’ line had not been asked to do so for any extended series of plays to that point.


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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.

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