clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ravens News 9/25: Analytically Advanced and more

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

2020 NFL analytics survey: Which teams are most, least analytically inclined? - Seth Walder

Which NFL team is the most analytically advanced?

1. Baltimore Ravens (15 votes)

Which team most incorporates analytics into its decision-making?

1. Baltimore Ravens (14)

“You saw how aggressive the Ravens were on fourth down last year. It’s because [head coach John] Harbaugh trusts the numbers, he trusts the analytics there. What Harbaugh has done is truly amazing. He has changed the culture of the team to believe in this stuff,” one staffer said, pointing out the video of a fired-up Lamar Jackson encouraging his coach to go for it on fourth-and-2 against the Seahawks last season and Harbaugh listening.

Getting Harbaugh’s buy-in was huge. Because as many staffers pointed out, quantitative analysis only works when the decision-makers are willing to use it.

The ratio of Ravens win probability gains to win probability losses stemming from fourth-down decision-making was substantially higher than that of any other team in the league last season, according to ESPN’s model. The abridged version: They made better fourth-down decisions than anyone else.

Baltimore last season also ran play-action at the highest rate, another offensive choice that data analysis has revealed to be a significant advantage for the offense. Yes, the team’s style of offense leaves it less clear that the choice can truly be attributed to analytics, but it’s still something that we can look to as further evidence.

Then there is the fact that the Ravens have one of the largest known analytics staffs in the league. They were early adopters, hiring their first director of analytics in 2012. A large staff can mean more specialization, and a longer history of analytics in the organization often leads to better work and better integration of data analysis into decision-making.

Revisiting Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes as Draft Prospects Before Their MNF Showdown - Albert Breer

“I think the biggest thing to me is there are no perfect quarterbacks,” said one AFC GM. “You’re going to be dealing with some weaknesses, and some things they do really well. But really, none of them are exceptional in every category. Other than maybe Andrew Luck in 2012, no one checks every box. And the bottom line is you’ll go broke looking for the perfect prospect.”

“Not every coach is willing to do what Harbaugh and Roman were willing to do,” said a second AFC GM. “That’s part of it. And I think more coaches are getting there, and being more open-minded to looking at college concepts that do work for these guys. Instead of saying, I run the West Coast offense, and this guy must fit the system, I think now you gotta adapt to what you have.”

“The way he snapped his wrist and threw that post for a touchdown, it was something. If you work with him, you see,” Petrino said. “And that’s the one thing I really respect about the Ravens. They were the only group that came in and spent time with me and my staff to find this stuff out. They spent two hours with me—the quarterbacks coach and head of scouting were there. ... I was surprised more people didn’t want to talk to me about Lamar.”

Roster/personnel changes NFL teams should make right now - Charley Casserly

Baltimore Ravens: Promote J.K. Dobbins to RB1

Dobbins was my top-rated running back in this year’s draft class. I like his instinctive, quick-cut ability and speed. In his limited body of pro work so far, the rookie has proven to be the most explosive running back in the Ravens’ loaded backfield. Right now, he sits third on the current depth chart behind Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards, with Dobbins logging nine attempts to Ingram’s 19 and Edwards’ 14. But Dobbins’ fresh legs and excellent acceleration both through the hole and getting outside should warrant more carries, if not a promotion to RB1. I like what I’ve seen so far — and so do the Ravens — as Dobbins has turned minimal touches into big gains. Though he’s totaled just those nine totes in two games, Dobbins has racked up 70 yards for a whopping 7.8 yards per carry and two touchdowns. He hasn’t been all that involved in the pass game yet (one catch on one target for 13 yards), but he has the ability to be effective as a runner after the catch. Once he’s given the chance, he will show he is the most dangerous running back the Ravens have. It’s time to unleash the youngster as a key player in Greg Roman’s system.

News & Notes: Fast-Starting Ravens Face Patrick Mahomes’ Late-Game Magic - Clifton Brown

During their 14-game regular-season winning streak, the Ravens have started the fourth quarter with the lead 12 times. They have been superb at taking leads, then protecting them.

However, the Ravens know the Kansas City Chiefs won’t panic if Baltimore jumps to a lead Monday night, because Patrick Mahomes is the comeback king among NFL quarterbacks.

According to Elias Sports, Mahomes has won an NFL record six straight times when trailing by double digits, including the playoffs.

NFL Week 3 Rookie Preview: Jags’ C.J. Henderson faces a tough test on TNF, 49ers need more from WR Brandon Aiyuk - Michael Renner


Ravens rookie linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison trying to tackle running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be a terrific rookie matchup. Edwards-Helaire has obviously balled out through two weeks, but Queen hasn’t gotten up to speed nearly as quickly — he’s earned a 42.0 overall grade having allowed seven catches for 66 yards already.