It's All in the Snaps: Snap Counts for Ravens defense (Wk 3)

With Filmstudy unable to do a defensive analysis on Week 3, I wanted to at least give my thoughts on what the Ravens defense looks like, even if I can't do qualitative stuff. Fortunately, the NFL is now releasing detailed snap count data, letting us know who plays how much on each team. The Ravens took 82 snaps on defense (too many) and some of the details of who played may surprise you.

The Every Snap Players: Lardarius Webb, Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed, Cary Williams, Ray Lewis.

So, I don't think this part surprises anyone. The ravens rarely take out their starting corners, Reed or Lewis. Sometimes in the past they have taken out their SS for a linebacker, but Pollard is better than the Ravens reserve linebackers. I'm sure Cary Williams seeing every snap frustrates many, but switching him for Jimmy Smith would not have made much of a difference as...

The "Starters": Haloti Ngata (77), Jimmy Smith (77), Dannell Ellerbe (67) Paul Kruger (66) Pernell McPhee (63) Courtney Upshaw (61).

Jimmy Smith was on the field for all but 5 snaps. The Ravens played a paltry 5 defensive snaps outside of the nickel. For all intents and purposes, Jimmy Smith is a starter on this team. Who is he replacing? Kemo and Cody, who combined for 37 snaps. The Ravens played most of the game with 5 DBs, 4 linebackers, and 2 defensive lineman. This really makes their stopping of the run against NE fairly impressive, and makes the lack of a pass rush even more distressing. Originally, Albert McClellan was the starter opposite Kruger at linebacker, but he was effectively replaced by Upshaw in this game. Likewise, the talk about Ellerbe supplanting McClain appears true. Another major concern I have is the absurd number of snaps Haloti has played. He is absolutely the Ravens most important defender, and you want him on the field all the time, but DTs usually can't mantain that snap count throughout the season.

The Roleplayers: Kemo (26), Arthur Jones (21), Jameel McClain (17) Albert McClellan (16) Terrence Cody (11).

How regularly did the Ravens play 2 DL? Kemo, Jones, and Cody combine for 58 snaps, 3 fewer than Upshaw, the least played starter. The Ravens averaged 2.4 DL a snap (and likely played 4 in goal line situations). That compares to averaging 4.9 DBs and 3.8 LBs (pardon the rounding error).

It will be extremely interesting to see how this compares to the Cleveland game, where we can expect fewer receivers and a less threatening QB, but a more punishing RB. McClain, Kemo, and Cody all stand to benefit at the expense of Ellerbe and Smith if the Ravens see more run formations.

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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