Offensive Line Model and Notes vs. Bengals 11/20/11

The Bengals have thoroughly frustrated Joe Flacco over the past 2 seasons, primarily with the 4-man pass rush. 

On Sunday, Zimmer stayed with the 4-man rush for 17 of 28 passing plays.  He also sent 3 men twice, 5 men 6 times, 6 twice, and 7 once.  Nothing worked consistently as Flacco threw for 9.6 yards per drop back.


Last year, Flacco had ample time and space (ATS) on just 23 of 63 attempts (37%) versus the Bengals.  To compound matters, he threw for 7.8 YPP with ATS, 1.8 without, and had 1 TD with 5 INTs.


On Sunday, Flacco had ATS on 14 of his 28 pass attempts (50%).  With ATS, he completed 9 of 14 passes for 199 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.  That’s 14.2 YPP, which is his best since the beginning of the 2010 season.  He had several incomplete passes where a well-thrown ball would have led to some significant additional yards, and the interception was costly and inexplicable, but the overall result was excellent.


Without ATS, Joe also had a good game. He had 14 such instances with 8 of 13 complete passes for 71 gross yards, 0 TD/0 INT, and 1 sack for -2. The 4.9 YPP without ATS was above his 2-year average of 3.8, and it came without any turnovers.

The Ravens had just 54 offensive snaps excluding the 2 kneels.

McKinnie:  Bryant had his best game of the season.  His only pass-blocking error was a QH allowed to Fanene (Q2, 3:35) when Pitta chipped on the outside which may have helped him beat McKinnie inside. He missed 3 blocks on run plays, all of which were to the middle or right. He just isn’t quick enough to contribute on most of those plays. He had 1 pancake and 1 block in level 2. He did a good job walling off Rucker and Johnson.  Scoring:  50 blocks, 3 missed, 1 QH, 47 points (.87 per play)

Grubbs:  Grubbs’ performance was particularly positive more for the style than the score. He made 7 blocks in level 2, and appeared to move well for most of the game which might be an indication that the toe problem is behind him. He hasn’t been used to pull, but he was also out to screen block.  As a pass blocker, he was beaten only once, by Atkins, for a QH (Q3, 13:44).  He had 2 pancakes. Scoring:  49 blocks, 4 missed, 1 QH, 46 points (.85 per play).

Birk:  Birk was driven backwards to Flacco for a pressure (Q1, 7:37) by Atkins. He missed 6 blocks, including 4 in the run game, which is much more than usual.  His play on one of the Ravens late 3rd and short opportunities may have cost the Ravens a chance to put the game away (See below).  Scoring:  47 blocks, 6 missed, 1 pressure, 45 points (.83 per play)

Yanda:  Marshal had his worst game of his career at guard by score.  Atkins pushed him straight back to blow up Ricky Williams’ run right for a loss of 5 (Q2, 4:14). He surrendered a QH to Atkins (Q1, 5:12) on a designed screen left.  I charged him with another QH when he failed to pick up Brandon Johnson (Q2, 1:38) who came delayed through the right B gap.  Like the rest of the line, he played much better in the 2nd half.  Among 3 blocks in level 2, he held off Howard to open the way for Rice to run 59 yards (Q3, 13:23).  Both of Rice’s TDs were keyed by his blocks.  On the 1-yard TD run (Q2, 8:35), he and Oher stood up Atkins to make space for Rice.  On Rice’s 2-yard TD run (Q3, 0:40) Marshal drove Maualuga back 3 yards into the end zone. You know when Yanda has made a key block at the goal line because he’s usually first to join the celebration with the running back. It would be nice to see Rice or Williams stick the ball in his gut after one of those and let him spike it like Payton used to do for the old Bears’ linemen.  Scoring:  47 blocks, 4 missed, 1 penetration, 2 QHs, 39 points (.72 per play).  This is a case where his highlight blocks would earn him a somewhat higher subjective grade, but I’d still say it was a C- effort.

Oher:  He had his first bad game in a while.  Oher had been 3 games without a penalty before he was flagged for holding Dunlap (Q3, 3:06).  I watched Atkins’ sack several times and there were mitigating circumstances, but Michael gets the charge for that on my scoresheet.  The play took longer than normal to develop and Yanda made an unusual crossover behind Oher to pick up Geathers, but it looked to me as if Michael gave up on the block. Coming into Sunday’s game, Oher had allowed just 1 sack and 1/3 of a QH in the previous 5 games. He missed a pair of cut blocks and succeeded on 1 of 2 pulls, both of which had him leading far to the right. Scoring:  49 blocks, 4 missed, 1 sack, 1 holding, 37 points (.69 per play).

Reid:  Reid played 5 jumbo snaps, including 3 near the goal line (2 TDs). He made all 5 blocks and was extra careful to report each time.  Ngata was not used despite the fact those plays could have helped put the game away. Haloti’s 59 defensive snaps, the fact the Ravens did not have Arthur Jones available, and the Thursday game versus the 49ers might have played a part in that decision.

Other Offensive Notes:

·         Lee Evans did not have an impact on the game.  He was on the field for just 11 snaps and targeted just once.  On that play (Q2, 14:21) he did not demonstrate the speed we saw in the preseason when he was unable to create separation from Jennings down the right sideline.

·         Boldin’s TD catch (Q2, 11:27) was good improvisation during an extended time and space opportunity.  Flacco rolled right off play action and Leach held off the closest defender, Fanene.  Only 2 eligible receivers were in the pattern. Torrey Smith ran a route to the right side of the end zone, but must have been well covered.  Rice sold the fake, but made no attempt to get open and just stood near the left sideline with several defenders.  Dickson was part of the initial zone blocking, then tried to reposition himself to help block Fanene.  That left Boldin in the middle of the field covered by Maualuga and Howard. After approximately 5 seconds, Anquan was near the right numbers, but broke back towards the middle of the field where Flacco hit him for a 35-yard TD (13 + 22 YAC). 

·         The Ravens only sack allowed (Q3, 11:26) had a lot go wrong. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Reid, Rice, and Pitta were kept in to block, leaving just Dickson and Leach in the pattern off play action. Amazingly, Leach and Dickson collided in the middle of the end zone. While neither fell, that made coverage fairly easy for the Bengals.  Flacco’s started to run and never tried to find his receivers again on a slow-developing sack.  This was another opportunity for improvisation.

·         There was a frustrating lack of clock awareness which led to a delay of game call against the Ravens (Q1, 6:14). The previous play had resulted in a first down, but the spot was close. Once the ball was spotted and the first down indicated, the Ravens had 23 seconds to snap the football, but that proved too difficult.

·         The Ravens continue to include Leach in their passing game with consistent ineffectiveness. He’s now been targeted 16 times with 9 catches for 23 yards with a long of 7. That’s a lot of plays to waste on 1.5 YPP. He’s blocked well and looked very good on 36 snaps Sunday, but he’s extremely limited in his ability to create anything (or even get turned around) after a catch.

·         Rarely does a player look as dominant as Geno Atkins did Sunday.  He had better leverage than everyone who line up against him in the first half.  He’s the first player who’s made Yanda look bad all season, but he spent some time beating Grubbs, Birk, and Oher as well. The remainder of the Bengals defensive line was much less effective, however. I’m not sure if the Ravens spent time preparing for Atkins, but they will next time.

·         Rice had several fine individual efforts.  He made Maualuga miss on his 13-yard screen pickup (-5 + 18 YAC, Q2, 2:27).  With the Ravens in their 4-minute offense (Q4, 3:38), he ran middle, which was entirely to the left of the zone blocking, for a gain of 7, causing both Nelson and Jones to miss.

·         The Ravens failed to convert on 3rd and 2 (Q4, 9:48) or 3rd and 1 (Q3, 2:55), either of which would have helped them seal up the game earlier.  On the first play, the Ravens ran from the shotgun, but Birk blocked straight ahead while the rest of the line blocked right.  Sims flew through the gap to blow up the play for no gain.  Yanda appeared to make a brief palms up gesture.  On 3rd and 1 with the clock down to 2:55, the Ravens ran into a tightly-configured, 8-man box.  Sims beat Grubbs outside and took down Rice from behind for no gain, but the play looked as if it would have been stalled anyway.

For more on Torrey Smith's performance and archived content, please visit:

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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