2017 Defensive Personnel Analysis - Bryan Knowles
Defensive Personnel Frequency
Team Base Rk Nickel Rk Dime+ Rk
BAL 30% 16 40% 24 28% 6
Minnesota, Atlanta, Seattle, and Cincinnati were the least balanced defenses in the league, sitting in nickel more than two-thirds of the time. Contrast that with Houston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, who didn’t use any defensive personnel package more than 40 percent of the time, freely flipping between base, nickel, and dime packages depending on what personnel the offense trotted out.
It’s interesting that even with the homogenization we’ve seen in personnel packages on the offensive side of the ball, there are still so many different ways that defenses choose to handle it. It’s not like there’s an obvious right or wrong way to do it, either -- the Vikings, Ravens, and Rams were about as far from one another as you can possibly get, yet all three were in the top six defenses by DVOA.
The Ravens dime defense had great success generating takeaways and sacking the quarterback in 2017.
Among 24 qualifying quarterbacks, Joe Flacco ranked last in passer rating when targeting running backs (89.8). This is quite surprising, considering he played with Ray Rice for six seasons (Rice is the only running back with multiple 700-receiving-yard seasons this past decade). Baltimore also ranks second in running back targets over the past three years (333). Despite Flacco’s inefficiencies when targeting the position, I think it’s likely Baltimore’s running backs rank highly in targets again next year.
According to PFF, Joe Flacco had the 24th passer rating when targeting backs, 19th when targeting slot receivers, 20th when targeting outside receivers and 22nd when targeting tight ends.
The 6-foot-8 blocker has had a lot on his plate, including improving his strength and conditioning, switching from left tackle to right and learning the offense.
Brown said he’s made a “really big jump” in terms of his strength and conditioning this offseason, which was a focus after he posted subpar numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’s worked hard and hasn’t missed any time yet this summer despite challenging, fast-paced practices.
On the field, he’s been getting a lot of instruction from Offensive Line Coach Joe D’Alessandris and had a long chat with veteran Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda during one minicamp practice.
“I’ve enjoyed it, coming in here and going to work every day,” Brown said. “Obviously with all the vets in my room – James and Ronnie [Stanley] and Marshal – I’ve had a ton of great men that I’ve been able to learn from on the field. Coach D has helped me a lot.”
Brown, a third round rookie, appears to be the Ravens top option at right tackle heading into training camp.