Shutting down Derrick Henry

The Ravens shut down their nemesis from the last 2 meetings in dramatic fashion.

  • The Ravens hit Henry 12 times in 18 carries behind the LoS.
  • He netted 12 yards before contact (0.7 per play) after averaging 2.5 YBC per play during the regular season.
  • Of his 18 runs, only 6 were offensive wins.
  • His long run of the day was 8 yards.
  • He had 0 first downs running (the only Titans rushing first down came on Tannehill’s QB sneak).

The Ravens delivered the knockout blow to Henry and the Titans by demonstrating the effectiveness of their healthy defensive line and edge setters.  On Saturday vs the Bills, they’ll need to change their scheme entirely to counter a high-powered passing attack.


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 Titans ran 49 such snaps.

Jumbo (0): The Ravens never lined up with just 3 DBs.  The Titans never ran a play inside the Ravens 7-yard line.  They also went no huddle on Tannehill’s 4th-and-1 sneak.

Base (29): The Ravens used their base 3-4 defense with 2 ILB and 2 OLB primarily versus 12 and 21 personnel.  Among the successful Titans plays vs base were the 10-yard TD pass to Brown (Q1, 5:44) and the 35-yard pass to Firkser on 3rd and 1 (Q1, 3:15).  29 plays, 135 yards, 4.7 YPP.

Jumbo Nickel (6): Martindale made occasional use of an extra lineman in place of an ILB.  These personnel groupings are intended to provide stout run defense while maintaining a nickel secondary against 11 personnel.  6 plays, 21 yards, 3.5 YPP.

Standard Nickel (9): The standard nickel includes 2 down linemen, 2 OLB, and 2 ILB.  Martindale again used it primarily as a response to 11 personnel on early downs.  The Titans did not play much 11 personnel and when they did so, it was primarily on passing downs.  9 plays, 47 yards, 5.2 YPP, 1 turnover.

Rush Nickel (3): Martindale inserted a package with 1 lineman, 3 OLBs, and 2 ILBs on 3rd-down plays (3rd and 4, 3rd and 4, and 3rd and 9, including 2 drive-ending incompletions).  3 plays, 9 yards, 3.0 YPP.

Racecar Nickel (2): This package included 1 DL, 1 ILB, and 4 OLBs vs the Titans.  It was deployed on consecutive drive-ending 3rd downs in the second quarter.  The first was Wolfe’s sack.  The second was a 4-yard run on 3rd and 20.  Chris Board was again used as the only ILB in this package (proxy dimeback).  2 plays, -3 yards, -1.5 YPP.

Dime (0): The Ravens never inserted a 6th defensive back.  Buffalo plays 4-WR sets frequently as well as a preponderance of 11 personnel.  At a minimum, the Ravens should be forced into some 4-CB dime vs 4-WR sets this week.  They also may activate Jayron Kearse for the first time to play a standard (3-safety) dime vs 11 personnel on passing downs.

Pass Rush

Martindale used vanilla scheme with outstanding results vs the Titans pass game.

For the game, Tannehill had ATS on 10/27 drop backs (37%).

Summarizing by number of pass rushers:

3: None

4: 12 plays, 70 yards, 5.8 YPP, 1 sack, 1 TO

5: 15 plays, 88 yards, 5.9 YPP

6+: None

Total: 27 plays, 158 yards, 5.9 YPP, 1 sack, 1 TO

While technically this was a 56% “blitz” rate by the 5+ definition, this was the most economical means to do so with no rushes of 6+.

Martindale used just 6 individual blitzes (.22 per pass play) from off the LoS with no more than 1 on any play.  That is similar to the rate vs the Bengals, but both stand in sharp contrast to the 34 blitzes (.72 per play) versus the Giants.  The Ravens generated just 1 QH and 1 other pressure on the 6 plays on which they blitzed from off the LoS.

The Ravens stunted only 4 times, a low total, particularly given the infrequent blitzing.  Those 4 plays resulted in 2 QHs and Wolfe’s sack.    

On 6 occasions they dropped 2+ from the LoS to cover.  That rate (22%) is a little low for the Martindale era.

Of 27 drop backs, only 3 were deceptive rushes as I define it by incorporating 2 or more of the above elements.  Those included a QH by Campbell and a pressure by Fort.

No Raven had much individual success as a pass rusher, but LJ Fort and Brandon Williams each had 2 pressures.  Derek Wolfe also had a sack and a QH.

Star Treatment

Pernell McPhee

  • (Q1, 14:27):  He contained the backside on zone run left before taking down RB Henry RL2.
  • (Q1, 11:17):  He shed and pancaked RT Dennis Kelly to tackle RB Henry RR1 with assist from Williams.
  • (Q1, 8:26):  He contained the right edge unblocked and tackled RB Henry RM1.
  • (Q2, 8:57): He shed and pancaked RT Kelly then took down RB Henry RR0.
  • (Q2, 7:27): On 3rd/5, he crossed the face of RG Nate Davis and knocked him off balance allowing Wolfe to loop through the right B-gap for a fast S-7.
  • (Q2, 1:55): On 3rd/20, he shed LT David Quessenberry to tackle RB McNichols RM4.
  • (Q3, 8:55): He initially gave ground to TE Pruitt then pancaked him and tackled RB Henry RL2.

Pernell contributed to 6 tackles (5 solo) for defensive wins in just 10 run snaps.  He bullied the massive Dennis Kelly all afternoon.  When he kicked inside, he looked like the 2014 version of himself, commanding a double team with a big first step.

Defensive MVPs

  1. Pernell McPhee
  2. Marcus Peters
  3. Matthew Judon

Honorable mentions include Calais Campbell, DeShon Elliott, Marlon Humphrey, Justin Madubuike, Brandon Williams, and Derek Wolfe.