Planning Ahead

It’s difficult to imagine a more perplexing roster situation (or a worse time for it) than the Ravens had in Cincinnati on Sunday, but the Ravens had a consistent theme underlying the roster holes and practice-squad callups:

  • Lamar Jackson did not even make the trip to Cincinnati
  • Calais Campbell played just 6 non-penalty snaps for a DL that otherwise dressed Williams, Washington, McKenzie, Mack, and Ellis.  His last snap was the last Cincinnati snap of the 3rd quarter.
  • Malik Harrison played only special teams despite the activation of just 3 ILBs (Bynes, Queen, Thomas) and 3 OLBs (Bowser, Ferguson, Oweh)
  • PS callup ILB Joe Thomas played a series in relief of Patrick Queen and another in relief of Josh Bynes
  • DT Isaiah Mack played 7 snaps in the first half then 17 more in the 2nd
  • FS Brandon Stephens was replaced by Tony Jefferson 3 snaps into the 3rd quarter (Stephens returned to play in quarter packages for the rest of the game)
  • SCB Tavon Young returned to play just 2 snaps after leaving the field early in the 4th quarter
  • WR Sammy Watkins played just 3 snaps while Tylan Wallace and James Proche saw extended action

Obviously, some of these impact 2022 and beyond in terms of previewing some younger players like Mack, Thomas, Wallace, and Proche.  However, for 2021, the Ravens seemed to want to keep some of their stars under wraps once the game got out of hand (and even before in some cases).

I don’t know if anyone else finds this strange, but Harbaugh was caught on camera having a conversation with Eric DeCosta during the game.  Maybe it was an injury report.  Maybe it was commiseration over the lack of remaining talent at cornerback.  Or maybe it was the sort of forward-looking conversation we have come to expect from those 2 in terms of how to maximize both their slim 2021 and 2022 chances.

The game against the Rams is effectively an elimination game at home, so I expect we’ll see the best team the Ravens can field.

Bengals Play Longball

The Ravens gave up an incredible 15 plays of 15+ yards in this game. Let’s review:

  • (Q1, 13:38):  Burrow had ATS and threw to the slanting WR Tee Higgins   PL18 (7 + 11) [2] with Seymour outside and Queen unable to close from inside
  • (Q1, 13:04):  Despite pressure, Burrow threw to WR Higgins PR20 (16 + 4) [4] on a deep cross in front of Clark
  • (Q1, 5:10):  RG Hakeem Adeniji blocked Williams, LG Quinton Spain blocked Ellis, C Trey Hopkins blocked Bynes in L2, and RT Isaiah Prince blocked Queen in L2, to open a lane for RB Joe Mixon RL19
  • (Q1, 4:41):  Under pressure, Burrow threw to TE CJ Uzomah PR16 (4 + 12) [4] who was tackled low by Averett (injured on the play)
  • (Q1, 2:24):  On 3rd/2 with BOQ, Burrow threw to WR Ja’Marr Chase PR17 (17 + 0) [5], Worley may have abandoned deep responsibility
  • (Q2, 13:28):  On 2nd/7 with ATS, Burrow threw TD to WR Tyler Boyd PR68 (18 + 50) [4] who had been handed off by Queen without any safety back on that side
  • (Q2, 9:03):  On 2nd/9 with BOQ, Burrow threw PM20 (3 + 17) [3] to WR Chase who outmaneuvered Bowser after the catch
  • (Q2, 8:25):  With ATS, Burrow threw to wide open WR Higgins PR17 (13 + 4) [4] with Bynes closest in zone
  • (Q2, 1:33):  Despite unblocked pressure from Clark, Burrow threw hot to WR Chase PR15 (4 + 11) [4] with no one close
  • (Q2, 1:12):  On 3rd/16 with ATS, Burrow threw to WR Higgins PL52 (44 + 8) [1] who leapt high between Stephens and Seymour for the catch
  • (Q3, 9:03):  Despite fast pressure from Ellis, Burrow stepped up to throw PM19 (13 + 6) [4] to WR Chase between Worley and Bynes in zone
  • (Q3, 7:27):  On 2nd/17, Burrow threw to WR Chase again PL18 (4 + 14) [1] who juked then powered by Seymour on the outside and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play
  • (Q4, 11:34):  With ATS, Burrow threw to WR Chase PM22 (5 + 17) [3] who out manuevered Oweh at 5 yards and outraced the defense to the left sideline
  • (Q4, 7:15):  On 3rd/18 with ATS, Burrow threw to WR Higgins PR20 (12 + 8) [5] with Worley soft then run through for first down
  • (Q4, 2:00):  On 3rd/4 with ATS, Burrow threw to RB Mixon PR52 (46 + 6) [5] who beat Levine off the line of scrimmage on a vertical route

The Longest Play

Odafe Oweh, whose day is detailed below had a truly incredible play (Q4, 5:36) on which he could have given up, but kept his motor running.  Let’s review:

  • The Bengals faced 3rd/20
  • Oweh was initially stood up by LT Jonah Williams
  • Williams pancaked then fell on top of him when Odafe made an inside move
  • Odafe called for the hold on the ground with both palms up before Williams got off him
  • He got up, arrived with Bowser as Burrow was trying to find space but both fell off a potential S-4
  • On the ground for a second time on the play, he got up and chased Burrow left from the pocket for a late QH
  • Burrow unloaded deep right where Levine knocked down the pass for Chase to end the drive


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 Bengals ran 69 such snaps.

Base (8): The Ravens used their base 3-4 defense with 2 ILB and 2 OLB exclusively late in the game vs. 12 personnel.  Context for the results need to be considered since the first of these plays occurred late in the 3rd quarter.  These included 2 runs for 4 yards and 6 pass plays for -12 net yards.  8 plays, -8 yards, -1.0 YPP, 2 sacks.

Standard Nickel (45): Martindale again used the standard nickel (including 2 down linemen, 2 OLB, and 2 ILB) as the most common response to 11 personnel.  Among these were 14 runs for 49 yards (3.5 YPC) and 31 pass plays for 366 yards (11.8 YPP).  On those plays, Burrow completed 30 of 31 passes.  45 plays, 415 yards, 9.2 YPP.

Jumbo Nickel (3): Martindale deployed a nickel with 3 DL and only 1 ILB as an alternate look vs 11 personnel on early downs.  Patrick Queen was the sole ILB on these plays.  3 plays, 12 yards, 4.0 YPP.

Quarter (12): The Ravens lined up with 1 DL, 2 OLB, 1 ILB, and 7 DB on 12 obvious passing downs.  Patrick Queen was the sole ILB on each of these plays and each included 4 safeties (Clark, Jefferson, Levine, Stephens).  12 plays, 157 yards, 13.1 YPP.  Those results track closely with the fact the Ravens subsequently allowed a first down on 7 of 10 3rd downs the Bengals faced. 

Jumbo (1): Martindale deployed a jumbo package with 4 DL, 3 ILB, 2 OLB, and 2 DB on 2nd and goal from the 2 (Q1, 1:18).  Joe Thomas lined up as a safety in goal-line defense on the OLS.  1 play, no yards.

Pass Rush

The Ravens had trouble generating meaningful pressure despite 3 sacks.

Burrow had ATS on 18 of 49 drop backs (37%) resulting in a pass or sack.  He also had 13 ball-out-quick (BOQ) instances (27%) and the Ravens generated 18 pressure events (37%) within 3 seconds.  By pressure situation:

ATS: 12/18 for 275 yards (15.3 YPP)—Burrow threw for 16.4 YPP with ATS in the first game

BOQ: 12/13 for 101 yards (7.8 YPP)

Pressured: 13/15 for 123 yards, (6.8 YPP), 3 sacks

Results for each of these pressure situations are between good and great.

Summarizing by number of pass rushers:

3 or fewer: 6 plays, 118 yards, 19.7 YPP

4: 32 plays, 283 yards, 8.8 YPP, 2 sacks

5: 9 plays, 96 yards, 10.7 YPP, 1 sack

6: 2 plays, 1 yard, 0.5 YPP

7+: None

Total:  49 plays, 498 yards, 10.2 YPP, 3 sacks

The Ravens rushed 5+ on 11 of 49 drop backs (22%) on which the Bengals averaged 9.8 YPP with 1 sack.

Martindale called 6 off-ball blitzes (0.12 per pass play), all individual.  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 6 plays went for 94 net yards (15.7 YPP).     

There were 3 designed stunts which Burrow completed for 17, 68, and 13 yards (32.7 YPP).

The Ravens showed simulated pressure 12 times where 2 dropped from the LoS to cover.  Those plays went for 193 total yards, average 16.1 YPP.

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 3 deceptive rushes which resulted in gains of 17, 20 and 22 yards (19.7 YPP).

Simply put, in terms of pass rush deception, nothing the Ravens tried worked.

Odafe Oweh led the Ravens with contributions to 7 pressures (3 full, 3 shared pressure plus a QH) within 3 seconds plus a late QH.  Isaiah Mack had a sack, another negated by offsetting 12-men fouls, a 3rd he set up for Washington, and a 4th pressure that resulted in an incomplete.

Other Individual Notes

  • Patrick Queen started off with a fine first series including some good run play and a PD in coverage of Evans in the end zone.  He finished tied with Jefferson for the team lead in tackles.  However, he appeared to lose coverage of Boyd on the 68-yard TD (Q2, 13:28).
  • Tony Jefferson tied for the team lead in tackles (9) despite playing just 42 defensive snaps.  He also recorded his first sack since 10/14/2018 in the 11-sack feast against the Titans.  He looked mostly sound in terms of assignment.  The Ravens need 4 safeties who can play in the dime (or quarter) to maximize the chance to have 3 healthy at any time.  It’s not hard to imagine Jefferson taking a dimeback and core special teams role in 2022.
  • The early departure of Stephens may have been both exploratory and precautionary.  It was nice to get a read on Tony Jefferson.  It may also be Harbaugh realizing the Ravens don’t have a better answer than Stephens at SCB (or outside CB) vs the Rams.

Star Treatment

Isaiah Mack

  • (Q1, 11:23):  He beat RG Adeniji for a fast 5-yard sack negated by offsetting 12-men fouls 
  • (Q3, 4:04):  He was pancaked by LG Spain to lead RB Mixon RM8
  • (Q4, 8:02):  He swam past RG Adeniji outside for a fast S-8
  • (Q4, 6:31):  He bulled RG Adeniji from the front side to set up Washington S-10
  • (Q4, 5:44):  He beat RG Adeniji for pressure as Burrow’s pass to Boyd was stripped in the end zone by Jefferson

Isaiah showed outstanding quickness for a big man and excelled in his work as a 3-tech against vs Adeniji.  He’s listed as an undersized as a NT at 6’1”, 300.  However, he has quickness the Ravens should be able to use in 2022 despite the skill set that overlaps Madubuike.

Odafe Oweh

  • (Q1, 14:56):  He ran down Burrow for a late QH on PL10 to WR Higgins
  • (Q1, 13:04):  He beat LT Williams inside for pressure on deep cross PR20 to WR Higgins
  • (Q1, 5:52):  He beat RT Prince inside for pressure on PR11 to WR Higgins
  • (Q2, 11:03):  He contained the left edge but was unable to make a difficult tackle of RB Mixon at the LoS on his RL9
  • (Q2, 10:25):  He slipped by LT Williams outside to tackle RB Mixon RL1
  • (Q3, 8:03):  He rushed unblocked off the OLS for a fast pressure on PL3 to RB Mixon
  • (Q4, 14;54):  He spun inside on LT Williams for pressure on PL14 to WR Chase
  • (Q4, 14:22):  He bulled LT Williams for pressure on PM13 to WR Higgins
  • (Q4, 11:34):  He was outmaneuvered by WR Chase after the catch for PM22 (5 + 17)[3]
  • (Q4, 5:44):  He beat RT Prince outside for pressure as Jefferson stripped WR Boyd in the end zone
  • (Q4, 5:36):  He had the longest play detailed above ending in a late QH

Odafe created good pressure, but it did not often create results on the back end.

I do not award MVPs after a loss.