Oh baby, how good does it feel at the top? 5-1, undefeated on the road, joint-best record in the league... if the other shoe is going to drop, it's going to be on our opponent's head. This week we put the cat amongst the pigeons [well, Ravens] as we travel to Baltimore, looking to extend our away win streak.
Before we get deep into our Ravens preview, allow me a little tangent to fulfil a promise and explain the difference between ADOT and yards per attempt in the way I try to use them.
ADOT, or average depth of target, is a stat that measures how deep the average target from a quarterback is. It is calculated by dividing the number of air yards a quarterback has thrown by the number of throws he has made. ADOT removes yards after the catch from the equation to give a better indicator of how far the quarterback gets the ball down the field. It is also useful for evaluating receivers as a WR who has a deep ADOT has a better chance to get a lot of yards than a WR who has a shorter ADOT but catches more passes. For example, Alec Pierce has an ADOT of 15.9 yards and a 50% catch rate for 149 yards. In comparison, Kadarius Toney has an ADOT of 2.3 yards with a catch rate of 70.8% for 92 yards. So despite catching six more passes so far this season, and catching over 20% more of his targets, Toney has two-thirds of Pierce's yards because Pierce has a superior ADOT. In essence, ADOT is a measure of the opportunity for a QB or receiver to gain yards.
YPA is a rawer stat that measures how many yards a quarterback's average throw goes for, including yards after the catch. It is calculated by dividing a quarterback's total passing yards by his passing attempts. A quarterback who completes more of his passes is more likely to get a high YPA than another with a worse completion percentage as they have more chances to get passing yards, so long as they don't just keep throwing screens and five-yard outs all game. For instance, this season Goff is third in YPA with 8.0 yards with a 69.5% completion rate. Anthony Richardson is twentieth at 6.9 yards despite having a stronger arm than Goff, because of his 59.5% completion rate. Therefore, I try to use YPA as a measure of the efficiency of a QB at getting passing yards.
Under their new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the Ravens have been pretty varied on offence. They have run four personnel sets on more than 5% of their offensive snaps so far this season. The most common of these has been 11, which they have deployed on 51% of their offensive snaps. From this set, they have thrown the ball 82% of the time for -0.14 EPA/play. The Ravens use 21 personnel on 18% of their offensive plays for a 62% run rate and 0.13 EPA/play. Baltimore uses 12 on 14% of their plays for 0.06 EPA/play on a 66% run rate. The Ravens have also run 20 personnel on 12% of their offensive snaps for 0.1 EPA/play on a 79% run rate. Overall, the Ravens pass the ball on 57% of their offensive play for -0.03 EPA/play.
At quarterback, Lamar has been more of a traditional pocket passer compared to previous years. He has dropped back 215 times, attempting 173 passes for 121 completions (69.9%). Jackson is averaging 7.2 yards per attempt (tied for tenth best in the league), but his 8.2-yard ADOT is tied for 15th in the league. He has thrown five touchdowns to three picks so far this season, sixty-four first downs, a 5.5% big-time throw rate (fifth best in the league) and a 3.5% turnover-worthy play rate (tied for twenty-second in the league). His receivers have contributed to a 7.6% drop rate, he has had two passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, he has thrown the ball away on four plays and he has been hit as he threw once. He has also allowed 21.9% of the pressures on him to become sacks, tied for seventh-worst in the league (Goff is seventh-best in the league with a 14.3% pressure-to-sack rate for context). This has earned him an 86.2 passing grade from PFF.
Lamar is a rarity in the quarterbacks we've faced so insomuch as that he actually does get worse when he has been blitzed. On the 39.5% of plays he is blitzed, his overall offence grade drops by fifteen grade points to 75.4, his passing grade drops nearly fifteen points to 70.6, his completion rate falls by nearly 20% to 58.9%, his ADOT shortens by 0.6 yards to 7.9 yards, his yards per attempt shortens by 1.5 yards to 6.4 and he has thrown two-thirds of his interceptions against the blitz. Likewise, on the 34% of dropbacks on which Lamar is pressured, his stats also worsen. His completion percentage falls by thirty percent to 46.8%, his YPA drops by roughly one yard to 6.6 yards, his ADOT increases by almost five yards to 11.9 yards, and his passing grade folds by thirty points to 58.7.
Lamar is elite at targeting the intermediate area of the field, earning himself a 97.1 passing grade from PFF when targeting this zone of the field. In fact, Lamar has scored above-average grades when targeting all four levels of the field per PFF. However, when breaking down the field further, some weaknesses do appear. Lamar has his worst PFF grade when targeting the short right, with two-thirds of his interceptions happening in this zone. He completes 55.6% of his passes in this area for three first downs, a fifteen percent turnover-worthy play rate, and a 44.0 grade. He is also weak when targeting the deep left part of the field with a 47.3 grade. He has only completed one of his six attempts in this area for 4.8 yards per attempt.
When it comes to the receivers, rookie Zay Flowers has been the best with a 72.6 receiving grade. He has been targeted forty-seven times on an average depth of target of 8.5 yards for thirty-five catches (74.5%), 10.5 yards per reception (4.5 yards after the catch per reception), 1.79 yards per route ran, two drops (5.4%), a 25% contested catch success rate (one completed out of four tries), eight forced missed tackles, fifteen first downs, one interception and one touchdown. On the other side of the field, OBJ has not been his former one-hand catch-making explosive offensive weapon self. He has caught nine of his fifteen targets (60%) on an 11.3 yard ADOT, for 12.6 yards per reception (3.9 yards after the catch), 1.14 yards per route ran, a 75% contested catch success rate (three out of four), two forced missed tackles, five first downs, one interception and a 65.1 receiving grade. In the slot, Nelson Agholor has been good, catching sixteen of his twenty targets (80%) on an ADOT of 13.3 yards. He has taken these passes for 13.1 yards per reception (3.6 after the catch), 1.67 yards per route ran, a drop (5.9%), the same contested catch stats as OBJ, two missed tackles forced, ten first downs, a fumble, a touchdown and a 67.7 grade from PFF.
Of course, the big-name receiver for the Ravens is tight end Mark Andrews, but he is having a down year by his standards. He has been targeted thirty-four times for twenty-four catches (70.6%), an ADOT of 8.4 yards, 12.3 yards per reception (4.3 yards after the catch), 1.77 yards per route ran, four drops (14.3%), a 50% contested catch success rate (three out of six), five forced missed tackles, fifteen first downs, three touchdowns and a 72.1 receiving grade. Justice Hill has been their receiving back, catching all ten of his targets for 2.5 yards a reception, 6.1 of which were after the catch, which is pretty telling when combined with his ADOT of -3.6 yards. He has 0.44 yards per route ran, a 100% contested catch rate (one of one), four forced missed tackles, a first down and a 51.8 receiving grade.
The Ravens' offensive line has allowed Lamar an average of 2.98 seconds to throw. The best pass-blocker per PFF has been RT Morgan Moses, who Hutch will be seeing a lot on Sunday. He has a 97.8% efficiency on his 168 pass-blocking snaps, allowing five hurries and one sack so far this season for a 78.2 grade. At LT, Ronnie Stanley has a 92.5% efficiency on his 113 pass-blocking snaps, allowing two sacks, two hits and ten hurries for a 68.1 grade. At C, Tyler Linderbaum has been pretty good in pass protection with a 77.6 grade from PFF. On his 146 passing snaps, he has allowed only five hurries for a 98.2% pass-blocking efficiency.
It is the guards who have been the weak spots in pass pro. RG Kevin Zeitler has been the better of the two with a 67.8 grade. On his 230 passing snaps, he has a 97% efficiency, allowing eight hurries, one hit and two sacks. LG John Simpson has played 231 pass-blocking snaps, allowing three hits and eight hurries for a 97.5% efficiency. The same could be said about the guards in run blocking. Zeitler has an average 60.5 run-blocking grade on his 177 such snaps, but Simpson has been sub-par on his 178 snaps with a 54.9 grade. Linderbaum has been good despite his size, earning a 71.8 grade on his 109 snaps. At the tackle spots, Moses has been the better of the two with a 76.0 grade on his 143 run-blocking snaps, while Stanley has a 67.1 grade on seventy-nine snaps.
Talking of running, the Gus Bus has been the lead back for the Ravens, toting the ball seventy-two times for 3.9 yards per carry (2.46 yards after contact per carry), nine missed tackles forced, seven runs that have gone for over ten yards, sixteen first downs, one touchdown and a 64.8 rushing grade. The number two has been Justice Hill. He has been more efficient than Edwards on his thirty-seven carries, gaining 4.1 yards per carry (2.76 average after contact), eight forced missed tackles, six runs that have gone for more than ten yards, eleven first downs, three touchdowns, one fumble and a 68.6 grade. Of course, Lamar should perhaps be the focal point of our focus. He has carried the ball thirty-five times, ten of which were designed runs, for 5.3 yards per attempt (2.78 after contact), nineteen missed tackles forced, fourteen runs that have gone for ten plus yards, twenty-three first downs, seven fumbles, four touchdowns and a 75.0 rushing grade.
As a team, Baltimore is best at running up the left D-gap, gaining 5.9 yards a carry and three of their rushing touchdowns in this gap, or up the right-hand C-gap, gaining 5.1 yards per carry there. Conversely, they are at their worst up the left C-gap, getting 1`.3 yards a carry up this gap. Edwards is his best up the right C-gap, getting 5.2 yards a carry in this gap, and at his worst up that left C-gap for 1.2 yards per carry. Jackson has gained the most yards per carry up both the left-hand D-gap and right-hand A-gap, gaining nine yards a carry when toting the ball up those areas. He has been his worst up the right B-gap, getting 2.5 yards a carry through that gap.
The Baltimore offence is good, but there are weaknesses. Outside of Flowers and MAndrews, their receivers do not scare me. I didn't even mention Rashod Bateman in my breakdown, and he's a former first-round pick (he's been relegated to a backup role to Odell for context). And luckily for you guys, and perhaps Aaron Glenn, I am well-versed in my team's limiting Zay Flowers. Sutton should be able to handle him, leaving Jerry to cover the crocked Odell and Branch on Agholor. The one matchup that I can see going the Ravens' way is Mark Andrews on our linebackers, but he has been infected with Eric Ebron disease so maybe he'll beat himself for us. Unfortunately for the Brodric Martin fans, this isn't the kind of game I would finally make him active for since it's not where we need help. In the run game, they are bad running it up the gut so it's on the edges and linebackers to stop the run and funnel the backs towards Alim and Buggs. The biggest threat is, and probably will be for the foreseeable future, Lamar's scrambling ability. This could be another game for the 5-2-4 packages on defence.
Given they are a 3-4 base, it makes sense that both of their most popular defensive personnel packages (i.e. >5% of snaps) are 4-LB packages. The most common is 2-4-5 nickel, which they run on 79% of snaps. On these snaps, they face a pass on 74% of plays for -0.21 EPA/play. The other is their 3-4-4 base package, which they run on 19% of snaps for exactly 0 EPA/play on a 60% run rate. Overall, the Ravens face a pass on 67% of their offensive plays for -0.16 EPA/play allowed.
Four of the Ravens' interior defensive linemen have played more than fifty run defence snaps so far this season, three of whom have scored above-average grades from PFF. Michael Pierce has played seventy-seven such snaps and made twelve of his thirteen tackle attempts (15.4% missed tackle rate), nine of which were run stops (12.2% run stop rate), with an average depth of tackle of 2.2 yards. This has gotten him a 68.1 run defence grade. Justin Madubuike has played ninety-one run defence snaps and made all of his sixteen tackle attempts, eleven of which were run stops (12.5%) on a 2.2-yard average depth. However, his four penalties on the year have dragged his grade down to 66.4. Former podcast draft crush Travis Jones has played fifty-six run defence snaps so far this season, earning a 62.4 grade. He has made all of his fifteen tackle attempts, eight of which were run stops (14.5%), on an average of 2.3 yards. The bad banana in the bunch has been Broderick Washington. He has missed one of his nine tackle attempts (11.1%) on his seventy-one snaps, and made three run stops (4.3%) on an average tackle depth of 3.2 yards, gaining a 46.3 grade from PFF.
Only two Baltimore edge defenders have taken more than fifty run defence snaps. Tavius Robinson has been the very definition of average on his eighty-one run defence according to PFF with a 60.1 grade. He has missed two of his nine tackle attempts (22.2%), making three run stops (3.8%) with an average depth of 0.2 yards. Jadeveon Clowney has played fifty-four run defence snaps for a 74.0 grade, making nine tackles and missing a further attempt (10%), five of which were run stops (9.4%) on an average depth of tackle of 1.6 yards.
Likewise, only two inside linebackers have played more than one hundred run defence snaps for the Ravens. Former Bear Roquan Smith has played 132 such snaps, only missing two of his thirty-one tackle attempts (6.5%), making ten run stops (7.8%), with an average depth of tackle of 3.1 yards; for an 83.9 grade. Patrick Queen has played two more snaps than Smith, but has attempted six fewer tackles and missed one less (4%), made one less run stop (6.9%) but made his tackles 0.6 yards closer to the line of scrimmage for an 80.2 run defence grade.
Clowney has played 193 snaps in passing situations so far this season, rushing the passer on 95.9% of them. On these 185 snaps, he has created twenty-nine pressures (four sacks, six QB hits, nineteen hurries) on an 18.7% pass-rush win rate. This has earned him a 74.1 grade. Former Lion Kyle Van Noy has been the best of the Ravens' pass rushers according to PFF with a 75.8 grade. On his sixty-eight passing snaps, he has rushed the passer sixty-five times (95.6%) for eleven pressures (one sack, one hit, nine hurries) and a 17.5% win rate. Scot David Ojabo has been just below average coming into his sophomore season. On his sixty-four snaps on passing downs, he has rushed the passer fifty-five times (85.9%), creating two pressures (a sack and a hurry) on a 3.8% win rate for a 56.8 grade. Robinson has been the worst pass rusher with a 46.2 grade. On his eighty-nine passing down snaps, he has rushed the passer eighty-three times (93.3%), getting six hurries on a 2.5% win rate.
On the line, Pierce has been the best pass rusher. On his 171 snaps on passing downs, he has rushed the passer 164 times (95.9%), creating twelve pressures (one hit and eleven hurries) on a 12.1% win rate for a 66.3 grade. Madubuike has rushed the passer 189 times on 196 passing down snaps (96.4%), getting nineteen pressures (five sacks, two hits, twelve hurries) on a 10.7% win rate for a 65.1 grade. Washington has five pressures (a sack, a hit and three hurries) on a 6.9% win rate. He has played ninety-two passing snaps and has rushed the passer on all of them. Jones has been the worst at pass-rushing with a 55.4 grade. On his seventy-seven passing down snaps, he has rushed the passer on seventy-five of them (97.4%), hurrying the QB thrice on a 4.3% win rate.
On the backend, Brandon Stephens has been the best of the starters in coverage with a 62.3 grade. On his 274 coverage snaps, he has been targeted forty-five times on an ADOT of 9.1 yards, for thirty receptions (66.7%), 10.2 yards per reception (4.0 yards after the catch), three forced incompletions (7% FI rate), two PBUs, and an interception. On the other side of the field, Marlon Humphrey has played fifty-three coverage snaps, earning himself a 49.4 coverage grade. He has allowed five catches on seven targets (71.4%) with an average depth of 12.6 yards, for 13.0 yards per reception (4.6 yards after the catch) and a touchdown.
In the slot, Arthur Maulet has played seventy-eight passing snaps but has only been in coverage on seventy-five of these (96.2%) for a 61.9 grade. He has given up four catches on eight targets for 16.5 yards per reception (fifteen after the catch) on an ADOT of six yards. In the linebacker room, Smith has been elite in coverage with an 85.7 grade. On his 226 coverage snaps (83.7% of his total passing down snaps), he has been targeted twenty-four times with an average depth of 5.0 yards. He has allowed eighteen catches for 7.3 yards per reception (3.4 yards after the catch) and four forced incompletions (17% FI rate) which were all PBUs.
At safety, former podcast draft crush Kyle Hamilton has been the better of the two starters with a 75.7 grade. On his 256 passing down snaps, he has been in coverage on 238 (93.0%). On these snaps, he has been the closest defender on seventeen targets with an average depth of 4.8 yards. He has allowed a 64.7% completion rate (eleven catches) for 7.1 yards per reception (five after the catch) and one forced incompletion (6% FI rate) which was a PBU for an interception. Massive free agent signing Marcus Williams has been just a smidge over average with a 60.1 coverage grade. He has been in coverage on seventy-three of his seventy-four passing snaps (98.6%), being the closest defender on three targets with an ADOT of 11.7 yards, allowing a 66.7% catch rate. Those catches have gone for eleven yards a pop (7.5 average after the catch). Williams has also forced two incompletions (66.7%) which were both pass breakups.
Overall, this Ravens defence is pretty damn good. But we have faced good defences before and were still able to score. Just look at last week against Tampa Bay. The Packers and Seahawks are also no slouches on defence. The key will be ball control in a similar vein to last week where if the run game is non-existent (which I hope it won't be, or god help my Twitter/X feed), the passing attack might have to pick up the slack. This is not to say the defence is invulnerable though, there are still weaknesses for Ben to exploit, particularly in the slot and against Humphrey in coverage. This could be yet another game for the Sun God and the Spider of Death to feast on the poor peasants lining up against them.
The Ravens' best special teamer has been the former first-round pick by the Vikings Laquon Treadwell. On his thirty-four special teams snaps, he has graded out at 87.6.
Tight-end Isaiah Likely has somehow been their best kick-returner. On his singular kick return, which he didn't fair catch but also didn't take for a single yard, he earned a 61.2 grade.
Slot receiver Devin Duvernay has been their only punt returner but has been pretty damn good at it. He has fair-caught ten of his thirteen returns, and taken the other three for an average of 15.2 yards and a long of seventy yards; all for a 74.7 grade.
Future Hall-of-Famer and the man who gave this article its title, Justin Tucker, is on a down year. He has missed one of his thirteen extra point attempts and missed two of his thirteen field goals (both from over fifty yards) for a 69.5 grade.
Jordan Stout has attempted twenty-eight punts, averaging 4.26 seconds of hang time. Only 42.9% have been returned for an average of 16.3 yards. He has had fifteen punts land inside the twenty and also had one punt blocked. Of his non-returned punts, one went for a touchback, three went out-of-bounds, three were downed by the Ravens, and nine were fair-caught.
Three Keys to Victory:
Break out ye olde Week 16 of the 2022 season game plan on defence- I said it before when we played Atlanta, whom this offence does share some similarities with in my opinion; we have the perfect game plan to contain and pressure rushing style quarterbacks. Glenn cooked it up last year. It's time for more of those five-man fronts, which unfortunately for some means more Julian Okwara. However, we have proven time and time again since Week 16 of last year that this scheme works for us against this type of QB, so let's use Old Reliable again.
Don't worry about MAndrews- This might seem counter-intuitive since this is the biggest mismatch in their favour on that side of the ball, but we should let Lamar pass to the tight ends. However, I believe that we can play a bend-don't-break style in the middle, giving them the yards but limiting yards after the catch and touchdowns. Let them have to dink and dunk their way to points, then clamp down and make Tucker kick. They can't win just kicking field goals against our offence.
Use the outside receivers- We know Amon-Ra St Brown will feast in the slot, but the Ravens outside corners aren't the force they were a few years ago. We saw how Jamo can flip the field on one play, Kalif is a reliable tool, the Swiss army knife of this offence, and Reynolds is doing amazing things and vindicating my off-season takes that his place on the roster wasn't as weak as some believed. Take the game to their secondary, force them to key in on the pass, and that'll open up opportunities for the weakened run game.
Hot Take for the Game: The Bama boys each make a big play against the Ravens
Prediction: I can see this game going in a similar direction to last week; a defensive slog with not as many points as we've become accustomed to this season. However, I can still see us grinding out the win, bringing an unkindness to the Baltimore unkindness.
Detroit Lions 27, Baltimore Ravens 20
How do you think the game will go? Will our Lions continue to feed on the birds, or shall the Ravens fly out of reach of our paws? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?
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