The Ravens were dealt their third loss on Sunday. Problems are easily identifiable but solutions are more difficult to come by. I looked at a few plays that are indicative of how the Green Bay game went.
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Holes in the run game
Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy had an unpredictably successful game on the ground. He amassed 120 yards on 23 carries against a Ravens defensive front who has been stout this year. Lacy wasn’t off to a slow start either, he gained 47 yards on his first two carries including the second play of the game:
Lacy is in the backfield against the Ravens 4-2-5 Nickel. The play is Inside Zone with a “Crunch” element (Finley’s lead block across the formation). Lacy will look to cut to the backside (right of this image) quickly based on the blocking scheme.
The Zone Blocking Scheme, at its simplest, calls for its blockers to handle playside first level players (DL) via double-teams until they can climb to the second level. In this example, the Center and Left Tackle will climb to #56 Josh Bynes and #51 Daryl Smith.
Finley comes across the formation to engage Terrell Suggs. The goal of Center Evan Dietrich-Smith to double-team Haloti Ngata until RG TJ Lang can handle him on his own. Dietrich-Smith is looking to engage #56 Josh Bynes. Meanwhile, Left Tackle David Bakhtiari has come off of his double team of #99 Chris Canty in order to block #51 Daryl Smith.
The blocking design is perfect, every defender is accounted for. Other than a couple small corrections, the technique of the Green Bay OL is superb as well.
The Green Bay OL have walled off every Raven on the playside of the Inside Zone play. The backside contain (Suggs) is cut-blocked by Jermichael Finley. This hole is both wide open and pre-determined in the pre-snap phase. This is good playcalling.
Once Lacy breaks through to the third level (defensive backs), Safety Matt Elam takes a downhill angle that leaves him unable to make the tackle. Elam flattens his angle far too late and Lacy runs right by him. Elam took many poor angles to the ball carrier throughout the day. It is an aspect of the game that comes with experience and learning the speed of your opponent.
Playcall and execution led to a beautiful run that played out just as it was drawn up on the chalkboard.
Questionable Run Calls
The previous play was an example of how playcalling against a specific defensive package can lead to big plays. I went on a twitter rant last night about the Ravens OL problems, and one of them has to do with situational playcalling:
This playcall was doomed from the beginning. The Ravens are in their 12 personnel package (1 HB, 2TEs) against the Packers’ base 3-4. The Packers add a Safety to the Ravens strong-side to add up to eight in the box.
This run is a power run similar to “G-Lead” (where the play-side Guard pulls outside). In this case the ‘G’ is not a Guard, instead its Tackle Michael Oher. By design, everyone on the O-Line blocks the backside (their left) while Oher pulls and kicks out the End-Man-on-the-Line-of-Scrimmage (EMLOS) #53 Nick Perry. This should create a seam in the “8 hole,” (red arrow) just outside TE Ed Dickson.
In the interior, RG Marshal Yanda plans to combo on the tilted Nose Guard BJ Raji before working to the second level.
Yanda (#73) works up to the linebacker. Oher, pulling, is on his way to kick-out #53 Nick Perry. Everyone is accounted for, except for AJ Hawk.
Hawk slices through the line untouched to tackle Rice in the backfield. The O-Line can’t be to blame here. One of the Inside Linebackers was unaccounted for before the snap. The run was destined to fail.
This play needed to get Rice outside faster with a Toss -or- use zone blocking to that side (zone blocking gets blockers playside rather than backside). Far too often this season, the Ravens run plays were hopeless, even on the chalkboard.
Good Playcalling: Part I
In the redzone, the Ravens have used a couple of route combinations over and over, mostly because they are staples that work. Predictability can become an issue, however. To account for this, the Ravens ran a counter to their common “Smash” combination.
Torrey Smith is aligned as the X receiver with Tandon Doss in the slot. The Packers are in Cover-1 (man-to-man). CB Sam Shields is one-on-one with Torrey.
The Ravens have used Smash (as depicted above) multiple times this year. I’ve drawn it up at least once this season.
Instead of “Smash,” Torrey Smith plants after his In route and works to the corner. Doss is the decoy who clears out his defender away from the sideline. Against Cover-1, there is no safety help.
CB Sam Shields was forced to hold Torrey on his way by him. He was called for the Hold and put the Ravens in business inside the 5.
This play was a very encouraging call. Caldwell has been criticized for lack of creativity this year. But this was an instance of putting his best players in positions to succeed.
Good Playcalling Part: II
On 4th and Long late in the 4th Quarter, the Ravens need a deep completion to keep their hopes alive.
The Ravens run Doss (W) and Marlon Brown (Z) on a double post combination. A play that our own Chris Worthington has drawn up before. The Packers have six DBs in the game (Dime personnel) and are running what some call Cover-5 (three deep with zone cushions on the hash marks).
Doss runs by the two safeties (orange zones) and into CB Jerron McMillian’s deep third. McMillian inexplicably works downhill (in a stat-padding attempt?) instead of toward Doss’ Post trajectory.
McMillian was beat over the top for a huge completion that kept the Ravens in business.
Questions or thoughts, I’m on Twitter @BSL_Bryden.