The Long Wait

Somewhere in all of the narratives broken on Saturday are the makings of a good song.  Let’s review:

  • Lamar’s haters took a big hit from a playoff win versus a quality opponent
  • The Ravens will play the AFCC at home for the first time in franchise history
  • The “Arrowhead Invitational” has been suspended indefinitely
  • The notion that the Ravens coaches/players are unable to adapt (during a game, at halftime, etc.) was squashed under the weight off 24 unanswered points
  • The ghosts of the 2019 divisional loss to Tennessee, while never to be forgotten (see 2006 loss to Colts), will have some much-needed rest for now
  • Those who claim to know what a quarterback should do in terms of run and pass can kiss Lamar’s MVP
  • There is no further need to discuss the delicate balance between rust and rest

As is true after any game other than the Super Bowl, a greater challenge awaits.

Continuing to Beat Good Teams

The Ravens continued their domination of quality opponents.  They have now faced 6 teams this season that were 3+ games over .500 at the time of the matchups.  The results:

  • Det (5-1): Won 38-6
  • Sea (5-2): Won 37-3
  • Jax (9-4): Won 26-7
  • SF (11-3): Won 33-19
  • Miami (11-4): Won 56-19
  • Houston (11-7): Won 34-10

There has never been another season like this in NFL history with 6 wins by 2 touchdowns over teams of this quality (the previous record during the regular season was 3).  As Ravens fans, we need to savor their success and hope this team can cement their legacy as one of the great teams of all time with 2 more wins.

Defense and Crowd Noise

The Ravens defense was amazing last night but were aided significantly by 6 pre-snap fouls (5 FS, 1 DoG) by the Texans.

The organization has leaned into the noise narrative and produced a graphic indicating the Ravens now lead the NFL in both opponent false starts (19) and delay of game (5) at home.  In any case, those are great numbers for 9 games.

While the stadium was very loud, it’s difficult to say how this compares to some of the other great games in team history, particularly with all of the layers of headgear.

In a mix of objective and subjective terms:

  • The Texans ran only 47 offensive snaps (including 1 kneel)
  • The Ravens held the Texans to 4 of 12 on 3rd down and foiled their lone 4th-down attempt
  • While the Ravens did not have a sack, they continually chased Stroud from the pocket and he had greatly reduced effectiveness (3.1 YPP) under pressure
  • When Stroud delivered the ball before pressure could develop (13 times, 3.8 YPP), the Ravens benefitted from the return of Kyle Hamilton who had a fine downhill tackling game along with Roquan Smith.
  • The Ravens completely shut down the Texans run game, allowing just 38 rushing yards, 2.7 YPC, and only 1 first down
  • The domination versus the run was accomplished without having to resort to heavier boxes or personnel beyond big nickel
  • The Ravens did not allow a single red-zone opportunity

Packages

Note: all snap totals exclude penalties resulting in no play, kneels, spikes, and specials team plays resulting in a run or pass.  As such, they will be lower than other published totals.

The Texans ran 46 such snaps.

Base (5): The Ravens used their 4-DB/3-DL package just 5 times, exclusively on 1st down.  Each such alignment included Harrison at OLB.  These included 4 runs for 3 yards and 1 pass for 0 yards.  5 plays, 3 yards, 0.6 YPP.

Standard Nickel (18): The Ravens used their standard nickel as the primary response to the Texans 11 personnel packages with Hamilton at strong safety and Maulet at SCB.  These plays included 2 runs for 7 yards and 16 pass plays for 71 net yards.  18 plays, 78 yards, 4.3 YPP.

Big Nickel (23):  The Ravens used the big nickel as a response to both 11 and 12 personnel.  Each big nickel snap included Hamilton at SCB and Stone at SS.  These plays included 7 runs for 29 and 16 pass plays for 104 yards.  23 plays, 133 yards, 5.8 YPP.

Pass Rush

Macdonald used 5or more pass rushers on 8 of 33 plays (24%) resulting in a pass and used healthy amounts of deception.

For the game, Stroud had ATS on 6 of 33 drop backs (18%).  On those 6 plays, they averaged 13.8 YPP.  He also delivered the ball before pressure could develop (BOQ) 13 times (39%, 3.8 YPP).  The Ravens generated a pressure event on 14 plays (42%) on which the Texans gained 43 yards (3.1 YPP). 

Summarizing by number of pass rushers:

3 or fewer: 1 play, -5 yards

4: 24 plays, 150 yards, 6.3 YPP

5: 8 plays, 30 yards, 3.8 YPP

6+: None

Total:  33 plays, 175 yards, 5.3 YPP

Macdonald dialed up 8 individual blitzes (.24 per pass play) from off the LoS, all singles.  On those 8 plays, the Texans gained 27 yards (3.4 YPP).

The Ravens stunted 13 times among 10 plays (.39 per pass play), 7 singles and 3 doubles.  Those plays resulted in 102 yards (10.2 YPP). 

The Ravens used simulated pressure 4 times resulting in 10 yards (2.5 YPP), in each case dropping 2 or 3 from the line of scrimmage.

I define a deceptive pass rush as incorporating 2 or more of the above elements (off ball blitzes, stunts, and simulated pressures).  The Ravens schemed 5 such plays on which Texans gained 45 yards.

In words, the Stroud was continuously on the run from pressure that did not include a turnover or sack but nonetheless neutralized the high-powered Texans pass game.

Madubukie led the team with contributions to 5 pressure events, including 2 full pressures, 2 shared pressures, and 1 QH.  Jones had a pressure, PD at the LoS, and a QH.  Maulet had 2 pressures, 1 of which resulted in intentional grounding, and a QH.  Beyond the initial pressures generated, the Ravens had excellent pursuit of Stroud once they flushed him.

Star Treatment

Justin Madubuike

  • (Q1, 7:56):  He backed up then shed LG Scruggs to tackle RB Singletary RL-1 with Washington
  • (Q1, 5:57):  He beat RG Mason outside as Stroud threw PR9 to TE Schultz
  • (Q1, 5:14):  On 3rd/21, he bulled then shed RG Mason, worked off initial pressure from Clowney, delivered QH after flushing Stroud right to force INC, forced punt
  • (Q2, 0:46):  On 2nd/18, he bulled then pancaked LG Scruggs for a fast pressure to flush Stroud right where he overthrew WR Woods, INC
  • (Q3, 10:49):  On 3rd/6, he stunted for a late QH as Stroud completed PR7 to TE Schultz
  • (Q3, 10:10):  He stood up then shed LG Scruggs to tackle Singletary RM1 on a play turned inside by Harrison and Stephens
  • (Q3, 9:27):  He followed up an initial flush from Clowney with late pressure to force Stroud throw OOB, but play was negated by Stephens DH
  • (Q3, 7:13):  On 3rd/15, he stunted past RG Mason outside for pressure with Van Noy as Stroud completed PR1 to Schultz to force punt
  • (Q4, 6:14):  He was underneath on stunt and bulled both RG Mason and C Deiter to flush Stroud right where Jones chased him down for QH as Stroud threw INC

Despite no sack, Justin had a fine performance vs both he run and pass.  If anything, he improved his position for a long-term contract as well as the chance the Ravens will use the franchise tag on him.

Jadeveon Clowney

  • (Q1, 15:00):  He shed pulling RG Mason to tackle RB Singletary RM0 with assist Harrison
  • (Q1, 5:14):  On 3rd/21, he beat RT Fant outside for initial pressure which led to Madubuike QH, INC to force punt
  • (Q1, 3:22):  He bulled then shed TE Schultz to slam down RB Singletary RM0
  • (Q3, 9:27):  He beat the pulling LG Scruggs to flush Stroud who was chased by Madubuike for OOB throw negated by Stephens DH
  • (Q4, 6:07):  He stunted through right A-gap and drew holding flag from RG Mason

Jadeveon had a dominant performance vs the run, had contributions to 3 pressures, and drew a holding flag.

Kyle Van Noy

  • (Q2, 8:08):  On 3rd/1, he beat LG Scruggs outside to trip up RB Singletary RM0 and force punt
  • (Q3, 7:13):  On 3rd/15, he beat RT Fant inside for pressure with Madubuike to force Stroud to Schultz PR1 to force punt
  • (Q4, 14:23):  He beat TE Schultz chip then RT Fant inside to flush Stroud right for eventual Washington QH as Stroud threw INC
  • (Q4, 13:50):  On 3rd/5, he pursued Stroud left off Maulet initial pressure to force OOB throw, punt

Kyle had contributuions to 3 drive-ending plays among just 8 drives (excluding EoH and EOG).

Arthur Maulet

  • (Q1, 7:21):  On 2nd/11, he stood up block from WR Hutchinson then shed to assist Hamilton on tackle of WR Collins PR3 (-2 + 5) [4]
  • (Q1, 5:17):  On 2nd/6, he beat TE Jordan outside for fast pressure as Stroud was flagged for intentional grounding to bring up 3rd/16
  • (Q2, 0:46):  On 2nd/18, he had underneath coverage of WR Woods 11 yards [5] which forced Stroud to ground pass under pressure
  • (Q4, 13:50):  On 3rd/5, he rushed unblocked off OLS to flush Stroud left and Van Noy pursued to force INC, punt
  • (Q4, 6:02):  On 2nd/20, he made immediate tackle of Woods PM6 (6 + 0) [2]
  • (Q4, 5:41):  On 3rd/19, he tackled RB Ogunbowale PL13 (4 + 9) [2] off initial miss from Stephens
  • (Q4, 5:07):  On 4th/6, he rushed unblocked off ORS for fast pressure as Stroud overthrew Schultz 10 yards [2] for turnover on downs

Arthur played just 18 snaps, but had highlights in coverage and as a pass rusher that included contributions to 2 drive-ending plays.  The Ravens currently have just 3 safeties on the 53 plus Ar’Darius Washington who has played some safety in preseason.  Maulet takes some snaps off for Hamilton in big nickel, but I don’t expect he’ll lose snaps to Washington given how well he has played recently.

Defensive MVPs

  1. Justin Madubuike
  2. Arthur Maulet
  3. Jadeveon Clowney

Honorable mention to Ronald Darby, Travis Jones, Roquan Smith, and Kyle Van Noy