Defensive Notes v. Packers

Filmstudy Defensive Notes v. Packers

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Losing At Home is Never Good But…

Like most close NFL games, this was a woulda/coulda/shoulda game that could have been decided by any number of close plays or decisions.

A loss at home is never good, but if it’s going to happen, these circumstances can mitigate the impact:

• Lose to a good team
• Lose to an NFC opponent
• Avoid injuries in the process
• Play competitively such that the game doesn’t have negative predictive ramifications

The Ravens appear to have met the first 3 conditions. We’ll have to decide about the last.

The interesting in-game scheme shift came in the Ravens’ secondary.

The Ravens began the game in the nickel and played all but one first-half snap with 5 DBs. Unlike other teams that have failed to run successfully against the Ravens’ nickel, the Packers had the right scheme and Eddie Lacy ran 9 times for 73 yards against 5-DB sets.

When the Packers were reduced to 2 available WRs, the Ravens went back to a 4-DB alignment on most plays. Nickel Corey Graham played just 5 of his 38 snaps after halftime.

The Packers’ 63 offensive plays exclude Rodgers’ final-drive kneels:


Versus the Run: 28 plays, 142 yards, 5.1 YPC
Versus the Pass: 35 plays, 298 yards, 8.5 YPP
Overall: 63 plays, 440 yards, 7.0 YPPA

By number of defensive backs:

4 DBs: 25 plays, 262 yards, 10.5 YPPA
5 DBs: 38/178, 4.7 YPPA, 3 sacks, 1 TO
6 DBs+: None

By number of pass rushers:

3: None
4: 21/146, 7.0 YPP, 1 sack,1 TO
5: 9/154, 17.1 YPP, 1 sack
6: 5/-2, -0.4 YPP, 1 sack
7: None


• It was odd to me that the Ravens could not make good use of Arthur Brown. I would have expected him to either cover Finley on passing downs or spy Rodgers to reduce his elusiveness. A snap which was telling was the 3rd and 4 on the first drive. Bynes remained on the field and broke up the pass intended for Finley. It’s good news Bynes broke up that play, but that’s a spot where I’d hope Brown would contribute. Arthur played just 11 snaps and did not register a defensive statistic.

• In addition to the PD described above, Josh Bynes had several very good plays:

o (Q1, 10:20)  He took down Lacy for no gain on a pitch right to clean up for Webb.
o (Q2, 3:06)  He drew a holding call on the pulling Sitton.
o (Q4, 5:13)  He adjusted quickly to Lacy’s bounce outside to take him down for a gain of 2.

• That said, Bynes was an ILB on a team that got gashed by the Packers for 5.1 YPC. He needs to take a share of the blame. In particular, he was unable to fill for Suggs who was kicked out on Lacy’s 17-yard run left (Q4, 9:48). He was one of several who were too late to take down Boykin on his 43-yard reception (Q3, 8:29).

• Daryl Smith had played well and made 10 tackles Sunday, but 9 of those were assists and only 5 would count as defensive wins by the Football Outsiders method. The Packers accounted for him effectively in the run game. In coverage, his drop of the pass intended for Finley (Q2, 0:39) was one of several plays that were a difference in the game.

• The 64-yard TD from Rodgers to Nelson broke 2 streaks. The Ravens had not allowed a TD at home in 14 quarters (since Q4 of their division-clinching game versus the Giants last December). Lardarius Webb also allowed his first TD since the 2010 regular-season finale against the Bengals to break a 31-game shutout streak. Ravens fans are familiar with the bootleg as a means to get the QB time and space to throw the deep ball. The Packers’ zone blocked left, Elam bit on the play-action fake, and Rodgers hit Nelson in stride.

• The bookend pass rush continues to be outstanding. This game, Dumervil was the Ravens’ defensive star with a caning of RT Barclay:

o (Q1, 5:14) Dumervil bulled Barclay to flush Rodgers, incomplete.
o (Q1, 4:08) He beat the RT outside and slapped the ball free from Rodgers for a 6-yard sack, recovered by Barclay.
o (Q2, 12:20) Elvis bulled Barclay and forced another fumble. Ngata narrowly missed the recovery.
o (Q2, 1:09) He beat Barclay outside again, nearly caused another fumble, and took down Rodgers as he threw for a gain of 1.
o (Q3, 11:34) He bulled then extended his arms against Barclay, effectively bench-pressing the RT away from his body, which freed him to get around the edge for a QH with Suggs on Smith’s interception.

• Despite no time lost to injuries this season, Dumervil is on pace to reduce his snaps by 33% from last year. In addition to a pass-rush-specialist’s workload, Elvis has benefitted significantly from playing on the ORS opposite Suggs. Last season, he had the best pressure ratio from the right side in all of football with a pressure, QH, or sack on 20% of rushes (Kruger was 2nd at 18%). The problem was that Dumervil only rushed from that side 21.7% of the time. This season, he’s down to a still-excellent 15% pressures from the ORS, but that has been applied to more than 70% of his pass rushes.

• Suggs played well despite the end of his 5-game sack streak.

o (Q1, 14:34) He started the day poorly when blocked by Finley on Lacy’s 37-yard run left.
o (Q2, 4:36) He bulled Bakhtiari for pressure when Rodgers threw incomplete on 3rd and 10 from the end zone. He had beaten the Packers’ LT, but no hold was called, which would have resulted in a safety.
o (Q2, 0:47) He worked Bakhtiari inside then beat him outside. The Packers’ LT was flagged for holding.
o (Q3, 12:13) He dodged past the FB Quarless to take down Lacy for a gain of 2.
o (Q3, 11:34) He bulled Bakhtiri into Rodgers on what would fairly be described as a shared QH with Dumervil that led to Jimmy Smith’s interception.
o (Q3, 7:37) He drew another hold, this time on Finley to negate Lacy’s 5-yard run.
o (Q3, 3:52) He held the back side (ORS) of a zone block to the left side. Penetration by Ngata and Arthur Jones forced the play back to the right where Suggs took down Lacy for a loss of 1.
o (Q4, 6:45) With the Packers effectively grinding out the clock, Suggs dropped to cover Finley on a slow-developing, 19-yard play (8 + 11 YAC) that put the Packers in FG range.
o (Q4, 2:04) He flew past Finley to take out Lacy’s legs on a 1-yard run middle.
o (Q4, 1:32) He lost the edge to Bakhtiari as Lacy ran left for the game-sealing 4-yard conversion.

• Pernell McPhee again played the role of rested pass rusher as he was effective in the 13 pass-rush opportunities among his 17 snaps. He registered a slow-developing QH (Q2, 11:09) when Rodgers was unable to find an open receiver and bulled RG Lang hand-over-hand into Rodgers’ face before getting his hand up to deflect the pass (Q2, 2:00). He made a run contribution at OLB when he worked off the block of Finley to roll into Lacy’s legs for a loss of 1 (Q4, 1:42).

• Upshaw was the forgotten man Sunday. He played only 14 snaps including just 4 in the first half. That was true in the playoff games last season at Denver and New England when his time was reduced by the Ravens’ base nickel defense. On Sunday, he was in for 9 rushing plays and the Packers gained just 2.2 YPC on those.

• Webb had a good game marred by the streak-ending TD to Nelson. On that play it appeared Lardarius was expecting some deep help in the middle. It was only the 4th TD allowed in 54 career games at CB for Webb. In the 31-game streak (playoffs included) without a TD, opposing QBs completed 89 of 162 passes to his targets for 1,101 yards with 9 INT. That’s a QB rating of 53.0. I think it’s clear that’s a great rating for a defender, but it’s only part of the story. Those only represent targeted passes per PFF which exclude batted balls and throwaways. When a QB gets the ball past the LoS and linebackers towards a WR, he should have a significantly higher rating than otherwise.

• Jimmy Smith had a solid game of coverage including the good position and ball skills on the interception (Q3, 11;34). However, he was part of the general tackling problem. He was juked at the LoS by Boykin on his 43-yard reception (-1 yard + 44 YAC) on a WR screen left (Q3, 8:29).

• Matt Elam was the big disappointment in the secondary. He didn’t tackle effectively, and bit on the play-action fake when Rodgers completed the long TD to Nelson. I don’t think he is to blame for the big 3rd-and-3 completion to Finley (Q4, 1:53). He lined up in press coverage on Finley who was the right slot receiver. Matt got his hands on Finley, but didn’t slow him down much. The play didn’t take long to develop, Finley had a step on Elam as he cut inside, and Rodgers threw a strike. Finley added 42 YAC, but the game would have been over had he just slid down where he caught the ball. It would have been interesting to see how Arthur Brown would have been used if on the field for that play.

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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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