Grim Reminder

If anyone had a flashback to December of 2017, it might have been the announcing team talking about how Dalton had broken the hearts of Ravens fans before or the striking similarities with the New Year’s Nightmare.  Let’s review:

  • On 12/31/17 the Ravens staged a furious comeback from a 17-3 deficit (Q2, 0:23)
  • On 11/21/21 the Ravens came back from a more modest 7-6 deficit (Q4, 3:45)
  • The Ravens held a 27-24 lead over the Bengals with 0:53 remaining
  • The Ravens held a 9-7 lead over the Bears with 1:48 remaining
  • Both the Bengals and the Bears had moved the ball to exactly the 49-yard line
  • The Bengals faced a do-or-die 4th and 12 (Q4, 0:53), the Bears a convert-or-concede 4th and 11 (Q4, 1:48)
  • Andy Dalton completed a 49-yard TD pass in each game to give his team the lead

The 2017 play cost the Ravens a playoff spot while Sunday’s subsequent comeback has, at least temporarily, saved the Ravens season.

Picking on Westry

Chris Westry had played well in each of his 2 games (at LV, at Mia) this season.  His outing in Chicago was erratic and the mistakes outweighed some fine plays.  Let’s review:

  • (Q1, 9:24):  He was beaten over the top (almost appeared to release the receiver) when Fields booted right under pressure and threw to WR Darnell Mooney PR29 (26 + 3) [5]
  • (Q2, 9:55):  He lost ground on the break inside by WR Marquise Goodwin and Fields completed PM22 (21 + 1) [3]
  • (Q2, 1:25):  On 3rd/6, he stripped WR Mooney from behind for a drive-ending PD 11 yards [2]
  • (Q3, 8:46):  He was shoved violently (no flag) by TE Jimmy Graham at the break on PL23 (9 + 14) [2]
  • (Q3, 8:12):  He was blocked by TE Jesse James on the WR screen from Dalton to Goodwin PR60 (-2 + 62) [4]
  • (Q4, 12:36):  He stayed with Mooney until the WR pushed off hard and caught Dalton’s pass just OOB 40 yards [5]
  • (Q4, 1:58):  He was close in coverage when Dalton overthrew for WR Damiere Byrd 40 yards [4]
  • (Q4, 1:52):  On 3rd/6, Dalton jumped to throw over Stone’s pressure for WR Mooney 8 yards [5], but Westry dislodged his circus-catch attempt as he went to the ground
  • (Q4, 1:48):  On 4th/11, with an 8-man pass rush Dalton threw to WR Goodwin PR49 (34 + 15) [5] well over Westry who had bitten hard on an outside move
  • (Q4, 1:41):  When the Bears went for 2, they attempted to rub Westry off WR Mooney with TE Kmet but Westry stayed close and his proximity forced Dalton to throw just out of reach to the inside

Some notes

  • Westry was left on an island with a receiver with an 8-man rush (Q4, 1:48) and with 9 rushing (Q4, 12:36)
  • Despite his size, he had difficulty with both Graham and Mooney getting physical to create space and did not get an OPI call
  • When close, he remained excellent after the catch playing between the hands of the receiver
  • The Bears targeted him relentlessly with double moves to get deep and did not respect his speed and catch radius

Chris remains a key piece of the Ravens defensive backfield for 2021 and beyond.  This was difficult game, but he played so well in his first 2 outings, I believe his play will improve dramatically after he reviews the film and takes that to the practice field.  He remains tremendously gifted in terms of speed, length, and hands and wasn’t simply overmatched by his opponents.


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 Bears ran 57 such snaps.

Base (19): The Ravens used their base 3-4 defense with 2 ILB and 2 OLB primarily vs 12 personnel on early downs and in short yardage situations other than goal line.  Among these were 7 run plays for 34 yards and 12 pass plays for 133.  19 plays, 167 yards, 8.8 YPP. 

Standard Nickel (22): Martindale again used the standard nickel (including 2 down linemen, 2 OLB, and 2 ILB) as the most common response to 11 personnel.  The Bears ran effectively vs the nickel with 10 runs for 48, but were wholly ineffective passing the ball (12 passes for 38 including a turnover). 22 plays, 86 yards, 3.9 YPP.

Rush Dime (14): The Ravens lined up with 1 DL, 3 OLB, 1 ILB, and 6 DB on obvious passing downs (all 3rd and 6+ as well as the last drive of each half).  Chris Board was the sole ILB on each of these plays and Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, and Justin Houston were the 3 OLBs on each.  The Bears converted just 2 of these 14 plays for first downs.  However, those 2 were a 22-yard conversion of 3rd and 11 (Q3, 13:40) and the go-ahead 49-yard TD from Dalton to Goodwin (Q4, 1:48).  14 plays, 72 yards, 5.1 YPP.

Standard Dime (1): The Ravens played a snap with 1 DL, 2 OLB, 2 ILB and 6 DBs on the next-to-last Bears play (Q4, 0:14).  Board and Queen were both on the field at ILB and Campbell was the only player to line up at the LoS and insie the slot receiver.  It was one of the oddest positionings of Bowser and Houston that we’ve seen with each on the sidelines to defend against a sideline play of 15-25 yards.  Sadly, the positioning did not pay off when Dalton’s pass was complete to Goodwin.  1 play, 23 yards.

Jumbo (1): The Ravens played 1 snap with 4 down linemen, 2 OLB, 2 ILB, and 3 DB (no Westry) when the Bears lined up in wildcat on 4th and 1 (Q4, 12:30).  The extra lineman inserted, Khalil McKenzie, drew a hold on RG James Daniels and Justin Madubuike combined with Josh Bynes to take down Mongomery for no gain.  1 play, 0 yards.

Pass Rush

Martindale chose a mix of numbers and scheme that flustered both Bears QBs and for the 2nd consecutive week, the Ravens KO’d the starter.  However, the tackling and coverage issues again mitigated the value of the effort.

For the game, the Bears QBs had ATS on 12 of 37 drop backs (32%) resulting in a pass or sack.  They also had 11 ball out quick (BOQ) instances (30%) and the Ravens generated 14 pressure events (38%) within 3 seconds.  By pressure situation:

ATS: 7/12 for 108 yards (9.0 YPP)

BOQ: 4/11 for 73 yards (6.6 YPP)

Pressured: 4/11 for 75 net yards, including 3 sacks (5.4 YPP)

Summarizing by number of pass rushers:

3 or fewer: 2 plays, 23 yards, 11.5 YPP

4: 18 plays, 120 yards, 6.7 YPP, 2 sacks, 1 TO

5: 9 plays, 54 yards, 6.0 YPP, 1 sack

6: 4 plays, 10 yards, 2.5 YPP

7+: 4 plays, 49 yards, 12.3 YPP (these included 2 rushes of 8 men and 1 of 9)

Total:  37 plays, 256 yards, 6.9 YPP, 3 sacks

The Ravens rushed 5+ on 17 of 37 drop backs (46%) on which the Bears averaged 6.6 YPP.

Martindale called 13 off-ball blitzes (0.35 per pass play) among 10 plays.  I define off-ball blitzes as from a player who was either outside the slot receiver or more than 1.5 yards off the LoS at the snap.  Those 10 plays went for 15 net yards (1.5 YPP) including 1 sack. 

The Ravens used 3 stunts versus the Bears, all of which were on plays that went incomplete.

The Ravens showed simulated pressure 3 times where 2 dropped from the LoS.  These plays included 2 incompletes and a 9-yard gain.

I define a deceptive pass rush as incorporating 2 or more of the above elements (off-ball blitzes, stunts, and simulated pressures).  The Ravens ran 4 deceptive rushes, all of which resulted in incomplete passes.

Simply put, whatever form of deception Martindale used was effective.

Justin Houston led the Ravens in pressure events with 5 (1/2 sack, 1 QH and contributions to 3 pressures).  Tyus Bowser was the most effective pass rusher, however, with 2 sacks, a pressure, another sack negated by a defensive hold, and a drive-ending tackle of Fields on a scramble which knocked him out of the game.  Odafe Oweh had 2 solo pressures, a QH, and another QH on which he was flagged for roughing the passer.

Other Individual Notes

  • Calais Campbell (41 snaps) had another fine game.  He was held to 1 batted pass when rushing the QB, but he also recovered the forced fumble on Bowser’s strip sack.  Of his 3 tackles, 2 were defensive wins. 
  • Justin Ellis (27 snaps) had a shared pressure among 16 pass rush plays.  Of 3 tackles he also contributed to 2 defensive wins. 
  • Khalil McKenzie played just 6 snaps and those included the PL23/PR60 TD drive when Dalton first entered.  However, he came on the field for 4th and 1 and drew a holding flag (Q4, 12:30) that would have forced a punt had the Ravens not stopped Montgomery for no gain.  Although he is reported to be “cross-trained” for use on the OL, he has only seen time on the DL to date.  He would have been the 9th OL in this game (Cleveland, Colon, and Phillips did not see action on offense), so the Ravens did not take advantage of his versatility to make room for another player.
  • Ar’Darius Washington played 5 snaps at SCB and was not targeted.
  • Marlon Humphrey allowed just 2 short receptions (PL6, PR4) for 10 yards among 7 targets.  Nonetheless, his defensive hold (Q2, 1:57) negated a drive-ending sack by Bowser.

Star Treatment

Tyus Bowser

  • (Q1, 10:58):  He was blocked by TE Cole Kmet on Fields RL8
  • (Q1, 8:11):  He was again blocked by TE Kmet on the orbit pitch to WR Jakeem Grant RL11
  • (Q1, 1:55):  He contained the left edge to tackle Fields RL3
  • (Q2, 8:33):  He bulled then shed LT Peters for SF-5 with front-side compression from Houston and Campbell recovered to end the drive
  • (Q2, 1:57):  On 3rd/4, he blitzed (delayed) through the left B-gap for S-9 negated by Humphrey’s DH
  • (Q3, 12:12):  On 3rd/11, he jammed WR Marquise Goodwin crossing at LoS then tackled Fields in open field for RL6 to deny.  Fields suffered a rib injury and did not return.
  • (Q3, 8:12):  He was blocked by TE Kmet as part of WR screen Dalton to WR Darnell Mooney PR60 TD
  • (Q4, 9:11):  He held the right edge vs. RT Larry Borom while Ellis tackled RB Khalil Herbert RR0
  • (Q4, 0:18):  On 2nd/10, he beat RT Borom outside and hit Dalton’s elbow causing the pass to be grounded
  • (Q4, 0:04):  He bulled then shed RT Borom for S-18 to end the game

Tyus was central to 3 drive-ending plays and might have registered a 4th had Humphrey not been flagged for holding.  He created the Ravens only turnover and delivered a clean hit that knocked Fields out of the game.  He lined up off ball frequently and Martindale deployed him in coverage on more than 15 snaps, making his pass rush success rate that much more impressive.  He’s had more balanced games with big interceptions, but this was the finest game of his Ravens career as a pass rusher by a wide margin.

Justin Houston

  • (Q2, 8:33):  He bulled RT Borom to compress the pocket on Bowser SF-5
  • (Q2, 1:30):  He bulled then shed LT Peters for QH as Humphrey knocked out Fields’ pass for WR Mooney
  • (Q3, 14:20):  On 2nd/10, he bulled then shed LT Peters to share S-1 with Madubuike
  • (Q3, 6:14):  He was blocked by RT Borom on RB Montgomery RR11
  • (Q4, 3:38):  He bulled RT Borom for pressure on Dalton to TE Kmet PM12
  • (Q4, 3:06):  On 3rd/10, he bulled then shed RT Borom for pressure but Dalton completed PR9 to RB Montgomery

While Houston likes to rush from wide (9-tech) and use his arsenal of moves on an opposing lineman, we saw some of the best bull rushing from Justin in this game.  Neither tackle could consistently anchor against him.

Justin Madubuike

  • (Q2, 11:05):  He was double-teamed by C Sam Mustipher and RG James Daniels on RB David Montgomery RM10
  • (Q2, 10:39):  He was blocked by RG Daniels on RB Montgomery RM7
  • (Q3, 14:20):  On 2nd/10, he shed LG Cody Whitehair to tackle Fields for S-1 shared with Houston
  • (Q3, 12:53):  He beat RT Borom inside to twist down RB Montgomery RM-1 from behind
  • (Q3, 6:14):  He bulled C Mustipher three yards into backfield (which should have blown up play) but RB Montgomery got RR11
  • (Q3, 5:19):  On 3rd/5, he bulled RG Daniels into Dalton as he threw incomplete 5+ yards behind WR Goodwin on the right sideline
  • (Q4, 12:30):  On 4th/1, he was credited with a solo tackle of wildcat QB Montgomery RR0, Bynes appeared to be primary

Justin contributed as both a run defender and pass rusher.  With the current health status of the Monstars, the Ravens will need him to play well down the stretch to have a reasonable chance at a playoff berth.

Defensive MVPs

  1. Tyus Bowser
  2. Justin Madubuike
  3. Justin Houston

Honorable mention to Calais Campbell, Justin Ellis, Tavon Young, and Marlon Humphrey