Follow the Bouncing Ball--Defensive Notes vs. Texans 10/16/11
The Ravens had been both opportunistic and somewhat lucky with turnovers in the first 4 games. They had recovered 8 of 11 opponent fumbles and deflected 2 passes at the line of scrimmage that went for interceptions.
The Texans first TD was scored as Wade Smith drove Ngata backwards into level 2. Haloti slipped off the block and hammered Myers while Wade stood flat footed without a partner as Webb stripped Tate. Smith fell on the loose ball, but it’s unusual for the offense to recover a fumble past the LoS. McPhee’s forced fumble was also recovered by Smith. The offense team is going to recover some sack fumbles, but the Ravens also lost Flacco’s fumble. Flacco’s interception came on an offensive tip where Joseph made fine diving play.
Against the Texans they faced some adversity from a quality opponent that also caught the majority of the turnover breaks. It’s good to see the Ravens win a game in as decisive a manner while losing the turnover battle 2-0.
The Ravens had 66 snaps defensively with no spikes, kneels or other noncompetitive plays:
Versus the Run: 25 plays, 93 yards, 3.7 YPC
Versus the Pass: 41 plays, 200 yards, 4.9 YPP
Overall: 66 plays, 293 yards, 4.4 YPPA
By number of defensive backs:
3 DBs: 1 play, 0 yards—This was the Ravens 4th and 1 stop (Q2, 7:35)
4 DBs: 36/163, 4.5 YPPA, 2 sacks
5 DBs: 28/130, 4.6 YPPA, 2 sacks
6 DBs: None
7 DBs: 1/0—This was the last play of the 1st half
By number of pass rushers:
3 or less: 2/0
4: 22/81, 3.7 YPP, 3 sacks
5: 13/101, 7.8 YPP
6: 3/12, 4.0 YPP, 1 sack
7: 1/6, 6.0 YPP
· The 4-man pass rush had an exceptional day as you can see from the numbers above. The results were a function of coverage, some drops, and the Ravens extremely effective handling of the Texans’ screen game. The sacks that occurred developed slowly, but anything north of 5% for a sack rate with 4 pass rushers is excellent. In many ways, I’d say the 4-man pressure this game was similar to Tennessee’s treatment of the Ravens in week 2.
· Ngata had another big game, but no turnovers. He had a season-high 6 tackles and applied some pass rush pressure including a sack (Q2, 1:28) and a sandwich QH with Johnson (Q4, 11:14). Twice, he diagnosed a screen pass early. He took down Walter on the bubble screen left (Q1, 15:00). Just 3 plays later, Redding supplied pressure (and registered a QH) on Schaub’s designed screen right (Q1, 13:14), but it was Ngata’s diagnosis and position that forced Schaub to ground the ball. Haloti played 59 of the 66 defensive plays that did not result in a penalty.
· Cody had one of his most challenging assignments to date in center Chris Myers who is having a fine year. His highlight was his pursuit of the stretch right (Q1, 0:32) when he helped take down Foster for no gain. He was credited as the primary tackler on 3 of the 19 run snaps he played. Each of the Texans’ first 7 first downs would subsequently lead to a 3rd down (5 of those were converted). The play of the Ravens 2-down players (McClain, Redding, Johnson, Cody, Jones, and McKinney) was outstanding as the Ravens allowed just 15 yards on those 14 plays.
· Suggs played 64 of 66 snaps. He is often lifted for 2 consecutive plays on a long drive in either the 3rd or 4th quarter. On Sunday, the Texans converted on 2nd down (Q4, 12:53). Suggs then sat out 1st and 2nd down before returning. Suggs was conspicuously absent from the stat sheet except for a PD on a diagnosed screen left (Q3, 1:40). He did, however, beat Duane Brown inside to flush the pocket to set up McPhee’s sack (Q4, 7:27).
· The remainder of the defensive line rotation included Cody (27 snaps), Jones (10), McKinney (12), McPhee (28), Ngata (59), Redding (33).
· Lewis had his best game as a run defender this season and chose/penetrated his gaps quicker than he has this year. He beat Brisiel inside to stop Foster for no gain (Q1, 14:27) and penetrated by Wade Smith to the inside to stop Foster for a gain of 1 (Q4, 13:33). He finished a fine night by taking down Foster short of a 1st down on 4th and 2 (Q4, 1:25) on the Texans’ last offensive snap. His tackles occurred on gains of 0, 2, -7 (sack), 3, 3, 0, 3, 1, 7, 6 (pass), 1, and 1. He looped around the offensive right side delayed to beat Lawrence Vickers inside for a sack (Q1, 11:24). This was another case where he took advantage of the rush in front of him to wreak havoc. Johnson occupied TE Dreessen while Vickers turned initially to help with Ed Reed who was stood up by Tate. The Ravens rushed 6, but the Texans had just 2 receivers in the pattern.
· Johnson again played well and was a bulwark setting the edge. He beat Dreessen inside for his sack (Q3, 3:30) with the Texans TE holding all the way. He was credited with the QH when he and Ngata sandwiched Schaub (Q4, 11:14). He would finish with 7 tackles.
· The Ravens made interesting use of Johnson and Suggs at the end of the first half. With 8 seconds left, the Texans were at the 42 and needed a completion of perhaps 8-10 yards to set up a field goal attempt. The Ravens lined up JJ outside to jam Walter (wide right) and Schaub was forced to throw the ball away. On the very next play, Suggs set up opposite the trips on the offensive left side, burst through them without significant contact, and came as the only active pass rusher. JJ jammed Jones, who lined up wide right then dropped into coverage. I’m sure there was a good reason, but I’m interested to know why the coaches thought jamming would be of help with only 1 pass rusher. The play developed slowly and Nakamura knocked down the pass in the end zone. What I was fascinated to see was that Chykie Brown was in single coverage on Jones perhaps 25 yards from the cluster at the 5-yard line as the ball was batted down.
· Whether by design or health, the Ravens’ only have gone only to the nickel on passing downs. On Sunday, they had 0 dime snaps and just a single quarter snap (their first with 7 DBs this season) on the last play of the first half. They also played 2 nickel snaps with 3 safeties that included Nakamura’s first action since week 3. Both of those plays occurred on 2nd and long on the first drive of Q4.
· Gorrer had a 2nd consecutive outstanding game in coverage. It’s time to start getting excited about this kid after 55 NFL snaps. He played 27 snaps vs. the Texans. Schaub targeted Gorer’s assignment just 3 times among 25 throws with Danny on the field. Schaub completed just 1 pass to his assignment (Mason, Q2, 15:00) which went for 12 yards near the right sideline. Gorrer played soft on Mason, but if that’s your worst coverage error of the day, you’re doing well. Gorer had tight coverage on Jones (Q2, 11:19) on a pass that was thrown low and incomplete. He finished a fine day with a forceout of Jones on 4th down to end the Texans’ last real chance (Q4, 3:36).
· Williams played well, but he was out of position on the Ravens successful 4th and 1 stop (Q2, 7:35). The Texans lined up with only 1 wide receiver, 2 TEs and in the I formation. Webb was removed so the Ravens could put their 4-4-3 on the field. However, when Walter lined up wide right, Williams, the only corner, did not follow him there. Reed and Pollard waved him over, but he did not get set in time. Schaub came to the line with a run play and snapped the ball quickly without checking to a pass, but a hand signal to Walter would have generated a 1st down, if understood. Pollard was closest and lined up 6 yards off the LoS. JJ bottled up Foster and the Ravens took over on downs.
· The Ravens took Owen Daniels out of the game (3 targeted, 2 catches, 13 yards). He’s a matchup problem for most teams, but was a non-factor Sunday.
· The Texans’ passing TD (Q3, 8:46) came on the Ravens signature pocket-time-generating play of 2011. They blocked left as Schaub rolled naked right off play action. Cody and McPhee provided moderate pressure, but Schaub was able to step through his throw and did not get knocked down. Reed was left in coverage of Jones. An underthrow would have resulted in a pick, but it was on target and Jones secured the ball well. Since the Texans’ zone scheme was the model for the Ravens, I’m guessing this play action was also something they have been using for some time.
· It’s always entertaining to see how opposing QBs change their behaviors in the final quarter against the Ravens. Down by 15 on their final possession, which began with still 1:54 to play, Schaub went into "reduced interception mode." He threw a short pass to the right for 4 yards, then another short pass left for 4 yards, then a short pass that Kruger knocked free from Mason. On 4th down, they called a run play for Foster that came up short.
· The Ravens allowed 5 of the first 6 3rd downs to be converted, but thereafter the Texans would convert just 1 of 13 attempts on 3rd/4th down. As Dierdorf would say, 3rd and long is a bad habit to get into against the Baltimore Ravens.
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