How Will Ravens Respond to Smith’s Loss?

Filmstudy How Will Ravens Respond to Smith’s Loss?

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Defensive Notes vs. Detroit 12/3/2017

The loss of Jimmy Smith is significant, but no Ravens secondary has ever had this much depth.

Marlon Humphrey is next man up on the outside. However, even after this change, the Ravens still have an impressive next man up at every position in the secondary:

Outside corner: I assume the next up is Canady, with Hill taking over some SCB duties.

Slot corner: Hill is next up and Webb will likely continue to play in some circumstances.

Strong safety: Clark would be the most likely choice to have a combination of back end play, short zone, and run support.

Free safety: Webb would be my choice for the back end, but it wouldn’t shock me if either Canady or Clark was used in that capacity if something happened to Weddle.

Dime: After Sunday’s performance, Clark is the obvious choice.

Any of these would result in a downgrade to the current players as you would expect the loss of any starter to. But please go through in your mind the relative cost of losing Smith compared to losing Mosley or Stanley. The loss of either of the latter 2 would be Pompeii relative to the Springfield tire fire.

Pass Rush

Despite passing for 7.9 yards per pass play, the Lions had ample time and space (ATS) on just 14 of 37 dropbacks (38%). However, I scored 11 of the 23 not-ATS plays as ball out quick (BOQ), which means the Ravens didn’t directly pressure Stafford, but I judged the pocket would not have held up for 3 seconds.

Pees employed much more variation of scheme, deception, and numbers. To summarize:

— The Ravens had 6 pass rushes that qualify as deceptive by my definition.

— Pees sent 12 blitzers from off the LoS.

— On 6 occasions he dropped 2 from the LoS to coverage. On 2 other plays, he dropped 3.

— All 3 turnovers came on plays with generated pressure (as opposed to BOQ) including the play that knocked out Stafford.

By numbers, the pass rush was not particularly effective:

The Lions 294 net passing yards was a season high against the Ravens.

Run Defense Stays Strong

The Ravens held the Lions to 24 carries for 78 yards (3.3). In the last 5 weeks, the Ravens have allowed 335 rushing yards on 114 carries (2.9 YPC).

Don’t worry, be happy.

Dominant Dime Play Continues

The Ravens split their dime snaps between Chuck Clark and Anthony Levine vs. the Lions. Each made some plays (see below). As a unit, the dime was by far the most effective package for the Ravens.

By number of Defensive Backs:

This was the first game Pees employed the dime more than any other package.

For the season, the Ravens have played the dime on 23.2% of snaps, allowed 4.4 yards per play, and generated 15 turnovers (8.5% of plays).

By Position Group

Note: Snap counts do not include penalties, kneels, spikes, and special teams plays which result in a run or pass.  As such, they will be lower than other published totals.

The Lions ran 61 competitive offensive snaps.

Defensive Linemen

Willie Henry played 42 snaps, which was neither unexpected given the Lions propensity to pass, nor unusual given the amount they have leaned on their young star in recent weeks. Despite a costly roughing the passer call that negated Judon’s PD (Q3, 6:01), Willie’s contributions were significant and varied:

— (Q2, 9:51): He scooped the fumble forced by Weddle and returned it 16 yards to set up the 36-yard TD drive that put the Ravens up 10-0.

— (Q2, 6:54): He bulled LG Robinson to blow up Green’s run for a gain of 2.

— (Q2, 1:02): He sniffed out Stafford’s screen right and took down Riddick for a loss of 4.

— (Q4, 6:16): He delivered a QH on Stafford as he was throwing the game-sealing interception to Humphrey. The Ravens drove 31 yards to lead by 17 and Stafford was knocked from the game.

Michael Pierce (21 snaps) was in for just 11 run snaps and registered 1 solo tackle and 4 assists on those plays for gains of 3, 0, 4, 3, and 1. All were run stuffs by the PFF definition. He also flattened Jones on a WR screen when Canady had him by the ankle (Q3, 5:57).

Patrick Ricard entered to play the last defensive snap of the game. It was his first action on defense since he logged 19 snaps against the Bears on October 15th.

Brandon Williams (32 snaps) had just 2 solo tackles, but one of them was a stuff of Riddick that denied 3rd and 1 (Q3, 7:54). The Lions averaged 8.1 YPP with him on the field and 3.9 YPP with him off, which is another way to say Stafford was very effective vs. the Standard and nickel defenses, but wholly ineffective vs. the dime (where Henry is usually the only lineman).


Tyus Bowser (10 snaps) flushed Stafford from the pocket where Levine forced him out of bounds for a gain of just 1 (Q2, 5:02). He also drew a holding call on Decker (Q2, 0:28). The latter play was declined, because Suggs took Stafford down for a gain of 1, but the option value was significant.

Kamalei Correa (8 snaps) saw his most action in the last 8 games (since 27 snaps versus the Steelers in week 4).  He did not make the defensive stat sheet, but he replaced Mosley for 2 snaps (beginning Q2, 13:42) on which the Ravens denied the Lions a first down when the lead was just 3-0. Prater then missed a 43-yard FG and the Ravens scored to go up 10-0.

Matthew Judon (37 snaps) was on the field for all 3 sacks and all 3 turnovers. His only tackle was his drive-ending sack (Q2, 4:24). He appeared to be held on the first Lions TD (Q3, 12:16). He did draw a holding call on RT Robinson (Q4, 2:43) that prevented a 2nd sack. His PD in the backfield was negated by Henry’s Roughing the Passer (Q3, 6:01). His late entry (Q3, 14:02) caused the Ravens to burn an early timeout.

C.J. Mosley (56 snaps) remains the defender the Ravens can least afford to lose. However, the notes I have about him from this game are negative including 2 in coverage and 3 run plays. He needs to make more splash plays, either in coverage, as a pass rusher, or as a penetrating run stuffer.

Za’Darius Smith (32 snaps) played effectively, primarily in the dime. I scored him for 3 pressures. On the last of those he pushed through a double team from Decker and Barclay to Flush Stafford left for Humphrey’s game-sealing pick.

Terrell Suggs (54 snaps) had another fine game with 5 tackles (gains of 2, 0, 2, 1, -8) including a sack (Q4, 6:47) when he shed RT Robinson to clean up Clark’s pressure. He took down Stafford for what was effectively a sack for a gain of 1 that denied a conversion late in the first half (Q2, 0:28).


Maurice Canady played 35 snaps, a career high, all at SCB. The Ravens allowed just 4.0 YPP when he was in and he didn’t give up any significant pass plays. My notes (good and bad):

— (Q2, 13:44): He took down Tate on a shallow cross PM6 (4 + 2 YAC) to deny 3rd/10 with 6-man rush.

— (Q3, 15:00): He penetrated unblocked to tackle Riddick RM-2.

— (Q3, 5:57): He made an ankle tackle of Jones, finished by Pierce, on a WR screen right PR1.

— (Q3, 2:23): He was blocked by LT Decker on Green RL6 TD.

— (Q4, 4:00): He tackled Tate PR3 (3 + 0 YAC) by right sideline.

— (Q4, 2:36): He blitzed off slot right for QH as Rudock threw a pick six to Weddle.

He’s playing great football and the Ravens need him to keep doing so..

Brandon Carr (59 snaps) was impressive in coverage and made a contribution in run support. He had 2 run stuffs (Q1, 11:58 and Q3, 3:49) for gains of 0 and 2. He also had good underneath coverage on 2 long throws that went incomplete (Q1, 10:49 and Q1, 3:05). I don’t have any negative notes about him.

Marlon Humphrey (39 snaps) was at the nexus of activity after he entered for Smith at RCB. He had underneath coverage on Weddle’s near end-zone interception (Q2, 13:42). He missed a tackle on Riddick which resulted in 4 YACo (Q3, 14:23). He was beaten for 3 long pass plays (Q3, 12:40 and Q4, 12:39 and Q4, 11:38) for gains of 42, 46, and 23 yards. Only the last of those plays was a perfectly thrown ball for TE Roberts. He took down Jones for a gain of just 1 by the left sideline (Q3, 13:44). He ended his day on a high note with the interception on Stafford’s desperate throw (Q4, 6:16) which sealed the game.

It’s possible this game will help the Ravens. How? I believe Humphrey is the Ravens best cornerback now that Smith is injured, but this game may encourage Roethlisberger to take more chances against him.

Chuck Clark (9 snaps) and Anthony Levine (17 snaps) shared the dime duties. Clark was closest to Ebron (Q3, 13:02) when his diving, 12-yard catch converted 2nd and 9. Chuck also steamrolled Riddick for a pressure that allowed Suggs to sack Stafford (Q4, 6:47). Levine forced Stafford OOB for a gain of just 1 (Q2, 5:02). He took down Ebron quickly for a gain of just 2 (0 YAC) by the right sideline (Q2, 0:35).

Jimmy Smith (22 snaps) has had a season that won’t be forgotten. His highlight against the Lions was a takedown of Golden Tate for a loss of 1 (Q2, 11:13).

Eric Weddle (58 snaps) had an impressive set of highlights:

— (Q2, 13:42): He had bracket over Jones (Humphrey under) in back of end zone, caught the football, but landed OOB.

— (Q2, 9:51): He rushed unblocked off OLS for SF-7 recoverd by Henry.

— (Q4, 6:16): Had over bracket of Jones 30 yards by left sideline.  Humphrey drifted back for INT.

— (Q4, 2:47): He beat running back (couldn’t see number) to pressure Rudock, who threw incomplete.

— (Q3, 2:36): He read Rudock and Canady QH for INT in wide open space, pick six.

Lardarius Webb replaced Eric at safety on the final drive.

Defensive Stars of the Game

  1. Eric Weddle
  2. Terrell Suggs
  3. Maurice Canady

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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 or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens. More from Ken McKusick


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