Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Texans and Jaguars

Who’s to blame for the offensive meltdown at Jacksonville?  It was a unit-wide effort to be sure and I’d cite 4 plays as examples of the breadth of the ineffectiveness:

·         Rice’s fumble (Q1, 8:59) was his first in 520 touches and Jacksonville’s first recovery of the season.

·         Rice had broken through the line into level 2 (Q2, 1:56) where McKinney and Gurode were in front of the play.  They each passed up an opportunity to block (Posluszny and Landry respectively) as Rice was taken down for a gain of just 4 by Pos.

·         The Ravens were late inserting the correct personnel grouping on the field (Q3, 4:46) which resulted in a wasted timeout.  That might have impacted Harbaugh’s onside-kick decision later.

·         Coleman broke well on Flacco’s game-sealing interception, but the reverse angle showed Smith open between the right hash and numbers by 5 yards on what could have been a huge play.  The lone Jax defender behind him was at midfield.

I’m guessing the film review was quiet.


The Ravens had 63 offensive snaps versus the Texans, excluding their 2 kneels.  Versus the Jags they had just 53 offensive snaps:


McKinnie:  Bryant has had fewer misses in the run game the last 2 weeks, but has regressed as a pass blocker.  In the Texans game, he was party to 6 separate negative events, including full responsibility for 2 of the 4 Texans’ QHs on the opening drive (Q1, 5:47 and 5:05) and a half charge (shared with Birk) for Jamison’s 9-yard sack (Q2,10:59).  Versus the Jaguars his 2 negative events were being bulled by Mincey to blow up Rice’s run left for a loss of 2 (Q1, 12:09) and failing to pick up the delayed blitz from Lowery that resulted in his 7-yard sack (Q3, 3:04). 

Scoring versus Houston:  53 blocks, 4 missed, 1/2 penetration/pressure, 2 and 5/6 (2 full + ½ + 1/3) QHs, ½ sack, 40.5 points (.64 per play). 

Scoring versus Jax:  48 blocks, 3 missed, 1 penetration, 1 sack, 40 points (.75 per play). 


Gurode:  It would be nice if he had a single flaw, because that might be correctable, but there isn’t just 1 thing to which I can point for Gurode’s performance to date.  He’s missed too many blocks, allowed too many penetrations, been penalized too often, and hasn’t moved well enough to be effective.  Nonetheless, Andre had a substantial, unscored contribution to the win over the Texans.  He drew 2 personal fouls on Atonio Smith with the Ravens inside the 1-yard line.  Each gave the Ravens a first down, and since it took the Ravens 4 plays to score, I’d term them significant.  In each case, he stuck with his block to the whistle, Smith reacted violently, and Gurode did not retaliate.  Were I to place subjective graded on the 4 games he’s played, I’d say D, F, C (adjustment for the penalties drawn), F.  There are worse backup linemen in the league, but the team needs Ben Grubbs back in a bad way.  It’s hindsight and would have involved a roster-spot complication, but I would expect that Justin Boren would have outplayed Gurode in this opportunity.  But, you know what they say…the practice squad left guard is always the most popular guy (not) on the team.

Scoring versus Houston:  52 blocks, 8 missed, 1/2 penetration, 1.5 QHs, 1 false start, 43.5 points (.69 per play). 

Scoring versus Jax:  46 blocks, 4 missed, 2 penetrations, 1 false start, 36 points (.68 per play). 


Birk:  Matt followed a poor outing versus the Texans with an excellent game against the Jags.  Versus the Texans, he had trouble with Brian Cushing who beat him to pressure Flacco (Q4, 15:00) and blew by him on a delayed blitz (Q2, 10:59) to set up Jamison’s sack.  He was also beaten inside on a stunt by Smith (Q2, 2:31).  He avoided errors versus Jacksonville, but he had just a single level 2 block. 

Scoring versus Houston:  57 blocks, 2 missed, 2.5 penetration/pressure, ½ sack, 49 points (.78 per play).

Scoring versus Jax:  52 blocks, 1 missed, 52 points (.98 per play). 


Yanda:   Both of these games were fairly good efforts, but far from what we’ve come to expect from Yanda.  He’s been beaten for 3 separate pass rush events the last 2 weeks.  He was beaten inside cleanly by Jamison (Q2, 6:17) versus the Texans.  At Jax, he was beaten outside by Sessions (Q1, 12:14) and subsequently failed to pick up Smith’s delayed blitz which resulted in a QH (Q2, 2:00).  He pulled successfully on each of his 3 attempts over the last 2 weeks and had 10 blocks in level 2.  Marshal was flagged for a personal foul after Flacco’s game-deciding interception.  If the play were live had any meaning, he’d be slapped with a -9 for that, but it was akin to a fight on the way to the locker room and not something that concerns me with regard to his future performance.

Scoring versus Houston:  61 blocks, 1/2 penetration, 1 sack, 54 points (.86 per play). 

Scoring versus Jax:  50 blocks, 1 missed, 1 penetration, 1 pressure, 1 QH, 1 holding, 45 points (.85 per play).  Had I charged him for the penalty, he’d have scored .72 per play.


Oher:  Michael had his best game of the year against Houston.  He allowed a defensive back to come untouched off the right edge to pressure Flacco (Q2, 2:00).  He also was beaten by Brooks Reed for a partial QH shared with McKinney (who was simultaneously beaten by Cushing on the opposite side) and (Q3, 14:30).  Considering the quality and intensity of the Houston pass rush, this was a large step forward for Oher.  His 2 holding penalties versus the Jaguars were a symptomof the offense’s futility.  He also was too slow to convert a screen block on Smith (Q2, 11:28) which could have sprung Rice for a big gain.  On the plus side, he’s reduced his missed blocks over the last 2 weeks and didn’t have any other negative events versus the Jags.  I’d say he’s the single most likely player to provide breakout value down the stretch.  Whatever the Ravens accomplish in 2011 will be largely a function of the play of Oher over the next 10+ weeks.

Scoring versus Houston:  60 blocks, 1 missed, 1 penetration, 1/3 QH, 57 points (.90 per play). 

Scoring versus Jax:  51 blocks, 2 missed, 2 holding penalties, 39 points (.74 per play).


Ngata:  Haloti entered for 3 goal-line snaps against Houston and made his blocks.  He lined up at LTE and the Ravens ran middle on all 3 attempts.  I’d have to check, but that might be the first time the Ravens had gone 3 consecutive snaps with Ngata where they didn’t run the play behind him.  In case you missed it, I wrote a piece on Ngata’s goal-line blocking over the last 3 years this offseason in which I speculated his career as a blocker was over:


I’m happy to be wrong.  He’s both a very effective weapon and extremely entertaining in those situations.


Other Offensive Notes:


·         The Ravens played all but 3 goal line snaps in both games with 5 offensive linemen in a balanced formation.  Ngata made all 3 of his blocks, but


·         The Texans and Jaguars applied significantly different pressure schemes.  The Texans made frequent use of 5+ man rushes which didn’t generate any more sacks, but subjected Flacco to a physical pounding in the pocket.  For the game, the Texans rushed 5 or more on 22 of 35 drop backs and that included 5 rushes with 6 men and 3 7s.  The Jaguars rushed 4 men on 27 of 41 drop backs (66%) and rushed more than 5 just once.  While they only hit Flacco 3 times (1 of the sacks was not a hit), they clearly made Flacco uncomfortable in the pocket with reduced numbers.


·         Versus the Texans, I scored Flacco with ample time and space (ATS) on 14 of 35 drop backs (40%).  With ATS, Flacco completed 10 of 14 throws for 165 yards, 0 TD and 0 INT (11.7 YPP).  Without ATS, Joe was 10 of 19 for 140 yards and an interception while being sacked twice for 16 yards (5.9 YPP).  His 56-yard completion to Boldin (Q3, 1:27) came on a play where he took a QH from Antonio Smith.  The interception with no TD passes isn’t good, but both his ATS and non-ATS yards per drop back were excellent.  Unfortunately, the 40% ATS percentage was a little below average.


·         The opening drive versus the Texans reminded me of the 4th quarter of the 2009 game at Minnesota where Flaco moved the ball effectively while being pummeled.  Versus Houston, Flacco overcame 4 QHs and a false start by Gurode to drive the team 97 yards (102 net yards of offense) for a TD.


·         Joe had ATS on 20 of 41 drop backs (49%) versus the Jaguars.  With ATS he completed 12 of 20 passes for 85 yards, 1 TD, and no interceptions.  That’s an abysmal 4.3 YPP with ATS.  Without ATS he completed 9 of 18 passes for 52 yards with 1 interception and 3 sacks for 25 yards (1.4 YPP).  Prior to the Ravens’ TD drive, he was 5 of 11 passing without ATS for 11 gross yards and -14 net (-1.0 YPP).  It seems strange to say this given how well he played under pressure versus the Texans, but I have to wonder if the beating he took in that game had some lingering impact.


·         To be fair, the 50-yard pass interference play, which was easily the Ravens longest of the night, should probably just count as a completion with ATS.  Under that circumstance, Flacco’s YPP with ATS would improve to 6.4 (still very low).


·         The Ravens rarely have a guard pull these days.  Part of that is a function of zone blocking.  Another element is that some of the pulling in previous years was required to shift back from the unbalanced line (which they no longer use) in passing situations.  A 3rd reason is that Andre Gurode is probably too slow to do it effectively.


·         The Ravens continue to have problems with their skill position blockers.  Despite a willingness to try, Ray Rice is not big enough to pass block effectively and was run over for 1.5 of the 3 sacks versus the Jaguars.


·         Even in a game like Monday’s there is something to pull out positive about the performance.   With 3rd and 1 (Q3, 5:29), the Ravens came to the line with 0 first downs for the game.  Boldin lined up in the slot right, but was not covered.  He immediately turned to Flacco for the ball, but Joe handed it off to Rice who was running right anyway.  When he saw that happen, Boldin quickly turned back upfield and found a block that helped extend what would be a 12-yard run.  Good ad lib by Boldin to call for the ball, good quick snap to exploit the defense, and a good recovery to make a solid block.

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

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