Gamblers will tell you that your results will often be a function of the results on your large bets. For example, if you typically bet $50 on 10 games a week, but bet $500 the 10 times all season that you think you see a good opportunity, your overall results are going to be highly skewed by your success on those 10 bets, even if you post an outstanding winning percentage (let’s say 55%) on the 170 small bets.
How did that relate to Sunday night's 34-17 victory over the New York Jets? Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco had 4 throws intended for Torrey Smith that had risk, but the possibility of much greater reward. Had he connected on 1, his night would have improved significantly and had he completed all 4, we’d be in agreement that he’d had a fine game against a good pass defense despite lingering accuracy concerns.
Flacco targeted Torrey Smith on each of the 4 plays in question:
· (Q1, 12:41): Jets CB Darrelle Revis had single, press coverage on Smith down the right sideline. The Ravens used the now-familiar fake run left to make time for a longer route to develop as Flacco rolled right off play action. Vonta Leach was the lone blocker in front of him and Flacco had ample time to set up and throw as Pace maintained a short middle zone in front of Leach. Flacco’s slightly overthrew Smith who eventually had Revis beat by half a step. It was good coverage by Revis who obstructed Smith’s original break off the line and slowed him with hand checking for the last 15 yards.
(Click on the 'Jump' to read more on this and the offensive line's performance)
· (Q1, 6:44): Torrey Smith ran a post route from a bunch formation right. Torrey had Leonard beaten in the end zone, as Flacco unleashed a missile towards the right goalpost. However, Eric Smith who was at the 2-yard line near the right hash (approximately 6 yards in front of Torrey) leapt and got a piece of the ball to avert the TD. Flacco again had ample time and space, but with a standard pocket.
· (Q1, 4:09): Torrey Smith was again lined up in a bunch right before Leach motioned into the I formation. This time Smith got single coverage from Eric Smith between the hash and the right numbers. The line of scrimmage was the 42 and Flacco’s arcing pass was underthrown, causing Torrey to slow and leap near the 10. In that circumstance I like the chances for Torrey to either outmuscle/outleap the Jets’ safety or draw a pass interference call, but Eric got a piece of the ball, and it fell incomplete.
· (Q2, 6:30): Smith was lined up wide right and covered by CB Antonio Cromartie. Flacco set up to throw in a standard pocket, but was pressured and hit by Bart Scott who beat Andre Gurode on a delayed blitz. Joe overthrew Smith by 5 yards down the right sideline. Cromartie was even with Smith but Torrey had inside position which opened up the inside of the field well behind Leonard.
This night he didn’t connect on any of these longballs, but future opponents are going to respect the Ravens willingness to throw deep. When Lee Evans returns, both the Ravens run game and short passing game should improve.
The Ravens had 70 offensive snaps, excluding their 3 kneels:
LT Bryant McKinnie: Bryant had a fine game as a pass blocker with no contributions to negative plays as I scored it. Let’s face it, that’s what is most important at left tackle. His run blocking is another matter and a source of some frustration each week. He simply doesn’t contribute much when the play is run up the middle or to the opposite side. That can take several forms from releasing his block too early (see his touch-and-release effort vs. Westerman Q3, 10:35) to shuffling into level 2 without making an attempt to block or even obstruct anyone. He had 2 pancakes and 2 blocks in level 2. I believe the Ravens aren’t running much to the left now both because their strong run blockers are on the right and Gurode is playing poorly. However, McKinnie would look better if more of the runs were to his side. Scoring: 62 blocks, 8 missed, 62 points (.89 per play).
Andre Gurode: Andre was spun by Devito for a QH on the Ravens first play from scrimmage (Q1, 14:52). He would surrender a 2nd QH to Bart Scott who beat him inside with a delayed blitz (Q2, 6:33). Scott beat him for a pressure with an earlier delayed blitz (Q1, 3:18). He was flagged for holding Harris who had beaten him to negate Rice’s 4-yard run (Q1, 11:35). To cap off the night, he allowed penetration by Pitoitua which resulted in a 4-yard loss for Rice (Q4, 3:37). He did not attempt to pull, but had 9 blocks in level 2 and 2 pancakes. While he made some contributions to the running game with those second-level blocks, the Ravens successful and time consuming 3rd quarter drive was all runs to the right behind Marshal Yanda and Michael Oher. Scoring: 61 blocks, 5 missed, 1 penetration, 1 pressure, 2 QHs, 1 holding, 45 points (.64 per play). Since the Ravens lost Ben Grubbs they have had 3 lousy performances at LG.
Matt Birk: Matt had another solid outing. He again avoided pass blocking mistakes and his biggest error was the false start on the bad snap. My concern with Birk isn’t the lack of push he is getting, but the way he is occasionally pushed well back into the backfield. On Sunday Pouha did that twice to him (Q4, 11:50 and Q4, 8:31). Neither play resulted in a loss, but those are the type of penetration that can blow up a running play or cause a sack. He had 4 blocks in level 2 and 2 pancakes. He and Yanda are playing very well together. It would be terrific if Birk could integrate his efforts more effectively with Gurode the way he had with Grubbs, but most of Andre’s problems have been cases where he has been beaten inside. Scoring: 68 blocks, 2 missed, 1 false start, 65 points (.93 per play).
Marshal Yanda: There isn’t a guard in the NFL playing any better right now. I have scored him with less than a full QH (5/6 vs. the Rams) and no other pass blocking errors in 4 games. The Ravens unleashed the run-right-until-you-prove-you-can-stop-us offense midway through the third quarter. Yanda was the linchpin with 5 blocks in level 2 and 1 pancake as the Ravens ran 7:26 off the clock with 4 first downs, no passes, and 11 consecutive runs to the right. Marshal’s 2 highlight blocks on the drive were a 9-yard bulldozing of Devito (Q3, 4:29) and a 6-yard push on the giant Pitoitua (Q3, 3:53). For the game, he had 11 blocks in level 2 and 2 pancakes. He pulled successfully on his only attempt. Scoring: 67 blocks, 3 missed, 67 points (.96 per play).
Michael Oher: This game he wasn’t penalized, but gave up parts of 5 separate negative events. He got a full charge for the sack (Q2, 5:24) which was triggered by a pair of delayed blitzes. Eric Smith first beat him to the inside then Brodney Pool beat him outside. Pace beat him outside for a QH (Q2, 13:29). He shared a penetration on the play that resulted in Ricky Williams’ fumble (Q4, 10:23). The rookie who stuck to a jersey and blocked past the whistle has changed his style, but he did manage to get Bart Scott upset with him to the point he got up, straddled Oher, and punched him in the chest (Q3, 6:36). I scored him with 6 blocks in level 2 and 2 pancakes. Scoring: 62 blocks, 3 missed, 1 pressure, 1.5 penetrations, 1 QH, 1 sack, 48 points (.69 per play). Schematically, the Jets defense is excellent at exposing weakness and indecision. Michael was a victim Sunday.
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