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The Desert Eagle Offense: Charting the Ravens offense against the Dolphins

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The Ravens used a bevy of personnel and play designs to score 59 points

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

This is my first time charting for BB, so here’s insight into how I chart offensively:

I look at personnel groupings first. Groupings are designated by the first number indicating the number of running backs, the second number indicating the number of tight ends. If a RB (Pat Ricard) lines up at tight end, I still group him as a running back. If a tight end lines up at fullback, I still count them as a tight end.

For instance, if the Ravens bring Mark Ingram, Pat Ricard and Nick Boyle into the huddle, that will be 21 personnel. If they bring Mark Ingram, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst into the huddle, that will be 12 personnel.

Next, look at where the RB/TE line up. If a player comes in motion then resets before the snap, I tally them where they are when the ball is snapped. If a player comes in motion and the ball is snapped without them being set, I tally them where they came in motion from.

Finally, I run my own tally on play designations. I started this week using five: run, pass, RPO, play Action and read option. I don’t overlap, so a play action doesn’t count as a ‘pass’. The Ravens are a little funky with the option, because Lamar Jackson will fake the option on a true run, so I only count read option plays as when there is a key defender for Jackson to read, or if Jackson rides the mesh point before handing the ball off.

Finally, I don’t tally kneel downs. I do tally penalties, both pre-snap and post-snap. My numbers get a little funky, because I tally personnel groupings for pre-snap penalties, but won’t see the play designation. That is because the play is blown dead, so it’s not possible to know the play designation.

I will re-publish this article later this week with play designation by personnel, but I want to get to the defensive review first. Look out for that between Thursday and Saturday.


Personnel Groupings:

The Ravens primarily stayed in three groupings: 11, 12 and 21. They also used 22, 13 and 23 at times.

I only charted the personnel groupings until the end of the 3rd quarter for this game (when the starters were pulled).

  • 11 personnel: 19 plays
  • 12 personnel: 13 plays
  • 21 personnel: 11 plays
  • 22 personnel: 5 plays
  • 23 personnel: 4 plays (all goal-to-go)
  • 13 personnel: 2 plays

The Ravens stayed exclusively in shotgun, but utilized ‘Power Pistol’ formations frequently. I will hereby be referring to Greg Roman’s offense as ‘The Desert Eagle’ because its a power pistol offense, seemingly.

35 of 54 plays saw multiple backs, tight ends or both. They bullied the Dolphins with Nick Boyle and Patrick Ricard consistently. The Ravens used three wide receivers on only 19 snaps. Roman didn’t deploy any snaps without a tight end on the field.

Roman also deployed motions on 34 of 54 plays, 62% of the time.

The Ravens offense went empty (only QB in backfield) on six plays. Lamar Jackson is extremely dangerous in empty formations because of his escapability mixed with his downfield vision.

Again, this is all through three quarters, only plays with Jackson behind center. I say behind, because the Ravens ran exclusively out of shotgun, with no snaps coming from under center that weren’t in 23, goal-to-go situations. There has been much made of Kliff Kinsbury running an exclusive shotgun offense, but the Ravens are now in year two of doing so.


Alignments:

The five players that I was interested in charting were Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle, Patrick Ricard and Justice Hill. These were the five players that lined up all across formations. Later this week I will add slot vs. non-slot for receivers designations.

Over the first three quarters, here is how ‘The Four Horseman’ lined up:

Mark Andrews:

  • SWR- 10 snaps
  • TE- 11 snaps
  • WR- 1 snap

Hayden Hurst:

  • SWR- 3 snaps
  • TE- 16 snaps
  • WR- 5 snaps
  • FB- 1 snap

Nick Boyle:

  • SWR- 3 snaps
  • TE- 23 snaps
  • WR- 1 snap
  • FB- 3 snaps
  • OL- 3 snaps (unbalanced line, left tackle)

Pat Ricard:

  • SWR- 3 snaps
  • TE- 3 snaps
  • WR- 1 snap
  • FB- 13 snaps

Ricard, Hurst, Andrews and Boyle are interchangeable. Hurst seems to be more advanced as a blocker than Andrews, although Andrews is no slouch. Boyle’s ability as an offensive lineman in unbalanced lines it remarkable. The Ravens were wise to invest in retaining Boyle and prevent him from hitting free agency.

Ricard most commonly came in motion as a lead blocker, or a kick-out blocker to secure the perimeter for inside runs. Teams will pick up on that.

Hurst is going to have a huge impact this season, and the Ravens have the best tight end room in the NFL hands down.

Justice Hill I didn’t fully ‘chart’, I was intrigued by his usage in empty formations. Hill was lined up as a WR in four of six empty looks. He lined up in the slot once. I would expect Hill’s usage as a wide receiver to increase throughout the course of the season. He will be in a similar role that the Chicago Bears Tarik Cohen is deployed, although he should have a greater impact as a traditional running back.


Play Designations:

Let’s start with the numbers:

  1. ‘True’ run plays: 26
  2. ‘True’ pass plays: 13
  3. RPO plays- 4
  4. Read option plays- 3
  5. Play action plays- 7

It has been widely reported that half of Lamar Jackon’s pass attempts were play action. I separate RPO from Play Action, which is why my numbers differ.

For all of the mishegoss surrounding the Ravens triple option and option offense, Jackson only ran options on 7 of 54 plays. As I said months ago, John Harbaugh tricked the NFL world.

The Ravens didn’t call a play action or RPO until Marquise Brown’s 47-yard touchdown catch on a backside slant in an RPO. They used true passing plays and true run plays to set play action up.

The Ravens pounded the ball, with 26 true run plays through the first three quarters. The RPO and read options as well brought that total to around 30. Jackson didn’t throw the ball in high volume, but he didn’t need to, clearly.

I did chart the fourth quarter play designs which were as follows:

  1. ‘True’ run plays- 12
  2. ‘True’ pass plays- 3
  3. RPO plays- 1
  4. Read option plays- 4
  5. Play action plays- 1

The Ravens continued pounding the rock in the fourth quarter, but RG3 hit easy underneath targets when passing plays were called. Griffin showed life in his legs, pulling the ball on option plays a few times.


While the Ravens didn’t utilize too many bells or whistles, they showed an incredible number of different looks. They sent Boyle, Hurst, Ricard, Andrews and company all over the field. Chris Moore, Willie Snead and Hollywood Brown came in motion across the formation quite a few times. The Cardinals are going to have a tough time finding tendencies from the week one film. The Ravens “showed nothing new” according to Lamar Jackson, but their new look offense had one general theme. The Desert Eagle offense took course and is going to pound and pass all over defenses this fall.

What from these numbers stands out to you?