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Ravens Rediscover the Spread—Offensive Notes vs. Cardinals

 

It’s difficult not to get excited about the Ravens’ new-look offense.

 

Summarized, here is what I saw from the spread/shotgun/no huddle offense:

 

·         The Ravens didn’t run it every play without a huddle and made some substitutions

·         The Cardinals made some substitutions both when allowed by reaction and on the fly

·         Prior to the last drive of the first half, the Ravens ran 28 offensive plays, including 4 from the shotgun

·         Starting with the last drive of the half, the Ravens ran 51 offensive plays, including 44 from the shotgun.  Of those plays, 20 were run without a huddle (You can’t really score this from TV with replays, so I’ve taken the information from the Gamebook).  This excludes Flacco’s kneel.

·         The 7 snaps not in the shotgun included 2 QB sneaks and 3 goal-line TD runs

·         It’s possible I missed one, but I don’t believe Vonta Leach wasn’t on the field for any shotgun snaps

·         This should also be self-evident, but the shotgun takes away the opportunity to run play action

·         The Ravens ran some 2-back sets with a TE and a RB lined up to either side of Flacco.

·         The bulk of the plays were 4-wide (includes TEs standing when not in motion), 1-back sets

·         The Cardinals responded primarily with the nickel

·         The Ravens generated ample time and space (ATS) on 26 of 41 passing snaps beginning with the final drive of the first half

·         The Ravens generated ATS on 14 of 17 2nd half snaps where the Cardinals rushed 4 men

·         The Cards increased the pressure in response to the time Flacco had with 5 rushes with 5 men and 5 more with 6

·         On the Ravens final passing play, the Cards executed their only 7-man rush of the day as Flacco completed his game-sealing 36-yard pass to Smith down the right sideline

 

The Cardinals defense looked dog tired by the beginning of the 4th quarter.  The bulk of them had hands on hips, which isn’t surprising given the fact they were outsnapped offensively 24-9 in the 3rd quarter (excluding penalties).  The 4-man rush was rendered impotent and the Cards’ blitzes exposed corners who couldn’t match up physically with the Ravens’ receivers. 



The Ravens had 79 offensive snaps versus the Cards, excluding Flacco’s centering kneel before the winning FG.  They have not had as many offensive snaps since the 2009 opener versus the Chiefs (85).

 

McKinnie:  The left side of the offensive line remains the team’s biggest question mark entering the Steelers game.  Bryant allowed a penetration when swarmed over at the 2-yard line (Q2, 13:32) on Rice’s loss of 1.  On the very next play, he was flagged for a false start (Q2, 12:55) and the Ravens would settle for a field goal.  He would twice subsequently be charged with illegal formation by setting up too far off the LoS.  On one of those plays (Q2, 9:07) he was beaten outside by Schofield for a 15-yard sack/fumble that led to a Cards TD.  He would later share another sack with Gurode (Q3, 7:31) when he was beaten inside by Acho.  Following the shared sack, he made his last 28 blocks.  Scoring:  73 blocks, 2 missed, 1 penetration, 1.5 sacks, 1 false start, 1 illegal formation (the 2nd was charged as just a sack), 56 points (.71 per play). 

 

Gurode:  Normally, the replacement level isn’t somewhere that a player can continue on a consistent basis, but Gurode’s been doing just that for 5 games.  Sunday was another in string of largely indistiguishable efforts.  He allowed the only QH that was not also a sack when beaten inside by Campbell (Q4, 5:18).  Campbell would nullify his effort by roughing Flacco, but that doesn’t make it any better for Gurode.  Andre turnstiled Acho on the sack he shared with McKinnie (Q3, 7:31).  He shared a sack with Yanda when he was beaten inside by Dan Williams just as Marshal was beaten outside by Washington.  Perhaps most troubling are the 8 missed blocks.  In case you were wondering, the most common of the verbs associated with those misses in my notes are fell, beaten, and shed.  He was penalized twice, but the Ravens nonetheless scored on both drives. Scoring:  68 blocks, 8 missed, 1 QH, 1 sack (2 X ½), 1 false start, 1 illegal use of hands, 50 points (.63 per play). 

 

Birk:  Matt allowed the batted ball to Carter (Q2, 6:56).  He allowed Campbell to pressure Flacco (Q2, 2:00), resulting in an incomplete pass.  He was also penalized for a false start (Q4, 3:25) that helped stall a drive on 3rd 7 at the Arizona 40 with the game tied.  Beyond those mistakes, he missed 7 blocks, all in the first half.  I scored him for 2 blocks in level 2.  Like most of his line mates, he was much more effective in pass protection during the 2nd half.  Scoring:  70 blocks, 1 PD, 1 pressure, 1 false start, 63 points (.80 per play).  Just to remind folks of the different scoring expectation by position, that’s about a D+ effort at center, but would be a B- at tackle.

 

Yanda:   The Ravens did more straight-ahead blocking on Sunday and Marshal was able to convert all 6 of his pulls.  That’s a high for both attempts and successes by a Raven lineman this season.  On each of Rice’s first 2 TDs he executed a mini pull where he looped quickly around Birk for an inside block rather than the more typical off-tackle lead.  He had 4 blocks in level 2.  He shared a sack with Gurode (Q2, 1:24) when beaten outside by Lennon.  He also failed to pick up Haggans to allow a pressure (Q2, 6:51).  Scoring:  75 blocks, 1 pressure, 1/2 sack, 70 points (.89 per play). 

 

Oher:  Welcome back Michael Oher.  He played the best game of his career Sunday.  In a game where Anquan Boldin dominated the stat sheet (and drew 3 DPIs), Oher was probably the Ravens’ offensive MVP.  He did not make a single pass blocking error and I scored him as missing just 1 block when shed by Dockett (Q2, 10:06).  He displayed the kind of nasty we’d come to expect in his rookie year, finishing his blocks well.  I have him with 2 pancakes and 3 blocks in level 2 which doesn’t seem to tell a special story in a 79-snap game, but the 54 pass plays preclude gaudy mobility numbers.  He shut down the right side against a fine opponent, Darnell Dockett, who had by far his worst game of the season.  With Oher playing this well, another matchup with Woodley is intriguing.  Oher handled him without a pass blocking error (versus Woodley) in week 1 (Lamarr beat Dickson and Leach for a sack).  I have to believe having Michael lean on Woodley regularly with the hamstring problem is going to result in a very tired and ineffective linebacker.  Scoring:  78 blocks, 1 missed, 78 points (.99 per play).

 

Ngata:  Haloti entered for 3 goal-line snaps at LTE, each of which resulted in a touchdown run by Rice.  Once again, the Ravens did not run the stretch to Ngata’s side on any of those 3 plays, but instead ran middle, middle, right.  Ngata made his block each time.

 

Reid:  Jah entered for one Jumbo formation (see below) and made his block.

 

Other Offensive Notes:

·         The Ravens played their first snap of the season with a 6th lineman other than Ngata.  Jah Reid entered at LTE (Q1, 0:56) and Ricky Williams broke off a 24-yard run right which was largely a personal effort to beat 3 defenders near the LoS.

 

·         Flacco had ample time and space (ATS) on 31 of 54 drop backs (57%).  With ATS, Flacco completed 18 of 31 throws for 237 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT (7.6 YPP).  Without ATS, Joe was 12 of 20 for 97 yards 0/0 and was sacked 3 times for 38 yards (2.8 YPP).  Neither his ATS nor his non-ATS yards per drop back were good, but he had an abundance of ATS opportunities.  For a pleasant change, Flacco was hit just 4 times.

 

·         Joe did not have a TD pass, but essentially had 4 “lesser TD” passes including 2 end zone pass interference tosses, one thrown at the 3, and the 36-yard bomb to Smith that set up the winning field goal.  All of those throws set up scores that had the maximum value at the time (3 TDs and a clock-killing FG that was better than a TD).  He also avoided a pick-6 on Wilson’s goal line drop and was charged with a cheap INT on Torrey Smith’s drop.  On balance, he had a significantly better game than his stats indicate.

 

·         What is there to be said about Anquan Boldin?  He really didn’t get much separation all day, but Flacco trusts him to outjump and outmuscle corners who are a little smaller.  Anquan’s focus on both the ball and the boundaries is outstanding, even when he can only get 1 hand up.   I don’t recall seeing a single Raven’s receiver ever drawing 3 pass interference calls in a game, but he had 1 from each of 3 different DBs (Jefferson, Peterson, Marshall).  Boldin had only 11 YAC for the day on 7 catches.

 

·         If you want another indication that the Arizona defense was tired, the Ravens executed 2 QB sneaks in the 2nd half (Q3, 3:30 and Q4, 5:47).  On neither play did the Cardinals even get set as Flacco and the line pushed forward for gains of 3 and 4 yards.

 

·         Dickson has not made enough of the tough catches.  This week it was Adams that had a PD (Q3, 4:44) on a ball that was all the way in Dickson’s hands for what would have been a gain of 25+.  For the year, he’s caught just 58.3% of the passes on which he’s been targeted.  Of TEs targeted as often, Only Kellen Winslow has a lower catch percentage (55.3%) and the average for TEs is close to 70%.  His YPC is only 9.6, 4.4 of which is YAC, so it’s not just a matter of Flacco having reduced accuracy on long passes thrown his way.  He and Zach Miller are the only 2 TEs who have played more than 50% of their team’s snaps and failed to have a 20-yard catch (Dickson’s long is 19).

 

·         One of the NFL Network announcers termed the Ravens’ 2 TE spread offense “Diesel”.  The comment was tossed out that the extra TE was a big blocking advantage.  I mentioned that of the 44 shotgun snaps beginning with the Ravens last Q2 drive, 41 were drop backs.  On those 41 plays, the Ravens used just 14 set and 4 chip blockers which means the Ravens had almost 4.6 eligible receivers in the pattern each play.  The TEs only threw 4 blocks on those plays (a chip by Pitta on a sack and 3 solid blitz pickups with Rice which resulted in an incomplete pass and gains of 21 and 36).  The TE only blocked (on 4 of 6 occasions) when the Ravens lined up 3 wide with a split backfield in the shotgun.  All of the remaining 14 blocks (11 set, 3 chips) were thrown by Rice.  Ray was beaten just once by Washington (Q2, 1:55).  I don’t have an easy way to go back and look, but with all the trouble he’s had as a pass blocker, I’d guess that had to be one of his best career games.

 

·         The Ravens had 30 first downs for the game, the 2nd highest total in team history behind the 2009 season opener vs. Kansas City (32).

 

 

 

 

 

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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