Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

LockettTyl15.jpg

» Futures: Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett

The Wildcats receiver isn't the best athlete you'll ever see, but Matt Waldman says he could be an effective pro with small improvements in his technique.

14 Sep 2005

Every Play Counts: Ogden-Freeney II

by Michael David Smith

Last year the Colts' Dwight Freeney beat the Ravens' Jonathan Ogden for two sacks, which caused the TV announcers to call the head-to-head battle a decisive win for Freeney. I watched them go at it on every play, and I found that Ogden won nearly every running play. I still gave the fight to Freeney, but in a much closer decision than most observers had it.

This year the two met in the opener, so what better way to start the season than scoring their rematch? As I did last year, I'll score each drive as a “round,� as if the battle were a boxing match.

Drive 1

The first play of the game demonstrated why Freeney, despite his admittedly impressive pass-rushing abilities, is an incomplete player. At the snap Freeney ran straight upfield, and Ogden just rode him out of the play. Jamal Lewis took a handoff and ran right past Freeney for nine yards. On the third play Freeney got great initial push against Ogden but then looked like he gave up on the play as Lewis converted a third-and-two. On the fourth play Freeney took too wide an angle and Ogden had no trouble pushing him aside. But then Freeney showed why he makes a difference despite his inconsistencies. On the fifth play of the drive, Freeney got past Ogden, pressured Boller, and Boller threw an interception. (Ogden also false-started on the play, but the officials missed it.) Freeney only beat Ogden on one play, but it was a big play.
Freeney, 10-9

Drive 2

On the first play Boller had plenty of time to pass. On the second play ESPN play-by-play man Mike Patrick said, “Boy is Freeney quick off the ball.� Yes, but Freeney quickly ran himself right past Jamal Lewis as he gained 25 yards. Ogden had a solid drive, stopping Freeney dead in his tracks on one screen as Lewis ran right past him.
Ogden, 10-9

Drive 3

We all know the storyline, right? Ogden is huge and powerful, Freeney is small and fast. But on this drive I saw something I never expected: Freeney bull-rushed Ogden and knocked him directly on his backside. The pressure from Freeney forced Boller to move in the pocket, where he was sacked by Larry Tripplett. A big play by Freeney.
Freeney, 10-9

Drive 4

Freeney had a spin move that went nowhere and a pass rush in which Ogden stopped him dead in his tracks. The ESPN announcers said Ogden was called for holding Freeney, but it was actually right tackle Tony Pashos who was called for holding. Overall a good drive for Ogden.
Ogden, 10-9

Drive 5

This was Freeney's best drive of the night. On the first play he tackled Lewis for a gain of a yard, and on the second play he stormed into the Ravens' backfield to take Lewis down behind the line of scrimmage. It was unclear on the play whether Ogden was supposed to block Freeney, but Ogden was clearly slow in getting started on the play, and on the very next play he overcompensated by false starting. It was a three-and-out drive, and Freeney beat Ogden on all three plays.
Freeney, 10-8

Drive 6

Two plays, nothing of note.
Even, 10-10

Drive 7

Ogden won every play, with Freeney never really getting close to making an impact. Freeney sat out a few plays, then came back in and stunted to the inside, getting stuck in traffic. Why, I ask, do the Colts ever run a stunt with Freeney going to the inside? He's an edge rusher, period, and it doesn't work to have him fighting through the middle of the line.
Ogden, 10-9

Drive 8

A three-and-out in which Freeney lined up opposite Ogden only on third down. And on that third down, Ogden false started, so we've got to give this drive to Freeney.
Freeney, 10-9

Drive 9

Did you see what happened on the play when Kyle Boller got hurt? Ogden engaged Freeney at the line of scrimmage, then Freeney used his spin move to the inside as Tripplett looped to the outside. Ogden let Freeney go and took on Tripplett, but he shoved Tripplett right into Boller's feet. Boller was out for the rest of the game. But we're judging Ogden vs. Freeney, not Ogden vs. Tripplett vs. Boller, so that play doesn't count against Ogden.

On the rest of the drive, Ogden dominated. He gave Anthony Wright great protection at the point of attack and forced Freeney to rush so far outside that he was never a factor. When Tripplett sacked Wright, ESPN's Paul Maguire said Tripplett got free because the Ravens were paying attention to Freeney, but in reality Ogden stopped Freeney just fine, but Edwin Mulitalo missed his block on Tripplett.
Ogden, 10-8

Drive 10

Freeney never got close to Wright. Is Ogden in better shape than Freeney? As the game wears on, Ogden is winning their individual battles more and more. I'd expect the smaller man to be in better condition, but it doesn't look that way.

Note: Wright gets rid of the ball more quickly than Boller, which makes Ogden's job a lot easier. In his career Wright has been sacked 36 times in 329 dropbacks, or one sack for each 10.1 dropbacks. Boller has been sacked 52 times in 374 dropbacks, or one sack for each 8.2 dropbacks.
Ogden, 10-9

Drive 11

A four-play drive in which Freeney and Ogden don't go head-to-head. Nothing to see here.

Drive 12

On the long completion to Derrick Mason, Freeney got a nice first step but Ogden simply put his hands on Freeney's shoulders and pushed him to the ground. On the next play Robert Mathis rushed past Ogden and got a sack and a forced fumble, but since this is Ogden vs. Freeney, Ogden wins the round.
Ogden, 10-9

Drive 13

This was the ultimate garbage time, so no scoring.

Going to the judge's scorecard, Ogden wins, 105-103, winning the rematch after losing to Freeney last season. But overall, I come away from the game thinking less highly of both players. Freeney showed that he takes himself out of way too many plays. And Ogden won against Freeney but had two very bad plays against other Colts, the sack and forced fumble by Mathis and the hit by Tripplett that injured Boller. If you had Ogden and Freeney penciled into two of your 2005 all-pro slots, you might want to reevaluate.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season. If you have a player or a unit you would like tracked in Every Play Counts, suggest it by emailing mike-at-footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 14 Sep 2005

83 comments, Last at 09 Jan 2007, 2:34pm by Troy Miller

Comments

1
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:24am

Excellent article, very good analysis. My only criticism is the last sentence:
"If you had Ogden and Freeney penciled into two of your 2005 all-pro slots, you might want to reevaluate."
Are you under the impression that all-pro slots are determined by merit instead of reputation? Or are you overestimating the influence of your column? :)

2
by Israel (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:49am

Very nice analysis, but I don't follow the scoring. In most of those rounds, one or the other seems to have dominated, but the best anyone gets is 10-8.

3
by masoch (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:06am

Israel: It's a boxing thing. Everyone starts a round even, at 10-10. The guy who 'wins' the round stays at 10, while the guy other guy lose a point, and the round is scored 10-9.

If a guy is knocked down, or gets a standing 8, he loses an extra point for each knockdown/8count. And once in a great while, a guy will lose an extra point for just being thoroughly dominated.

So, a 10-8 round here is essentially a dominated round... akin to landing more sooring blows AND knocking your opponent on his arse.

Capiche?

4
by masoch (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:07am

Stupid laptops and their touchpads. Please ignore all typos in the above post. Thanks!

5
by Jason (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:13am

Freeney caused false starts and aninterception, a momentum shifting hit on Lewis and was directly responsible for Trip getting in there and blowing up Boller.

6
by Jason (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:22am

Also the writer fails to take into consideration how many double teams Freeney had to contend with the whole night. It wasn't just Ogden on Freeney. Dwight consistently had a TE or a RB attempting to help Ogden block him.

I don't understand how Freeney supposedly lost this match up. Look at the first drive of the game. He was partially responsible for that pick. Pretty much set the tone of the game and took the wind out of the Ravens sails and hushed the crowd.

Ogden was shakey and off balance. As evidence the sack he gave up to Mathis and numerous false starts. You can't tell me that chasing Freeney all night didn't impact this.

7
by Israel (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:17am

Thanx Masoch. There isn't much boxing here in the Middle East, so their scoring system is rather foreign to me.

In this type of analysis, it seems to distort the totals, though, because we want to know "how much better" not just "who won."

8
by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:56am

Wow, boxing has a dumb scoring system. Interesting article though.

9
by charles (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:31am

MDS is right, ogden and freeney was pretty even in the game. The real mismatch was brandon stokely vs. deion sanders.

10
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:41am

I think this analysis is flattering to the offensive tackle. The thing is that when Ogden "beats" Freeney, there are 10 other defenders who could make up for it and make the play. When Freeney beats Ogden it's pretty much always a big play for the Colts, since there's nobody else who can compensate for Ogden having been beaten (or, at most, one other player if a RB has been assigned to double Freeney)
Therefore, a win for Ogden helps the Ravens less than a win for Freeney helps the Colts.
I know that maybe this doesn't seem fair, but, hypothetically, an OT could dominate for virtually the entire game, but give up a couple of crucial sacks and it would always seem like the DE got the better of the matchup because of those couple of big plays.

11
by Parker (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:49am

I'm not sure about the scoring system on this. Fair or not, the defensive player needs to 'beat' the offensive player only a few times a game in order to have a tremendous impact.

I don't know, it looked to me like Freeney got the better of the matchup, but I suppose FO is all about taking a more objective look at things.

While I do not really afree with your assessment, I realy enjoy the fact that you break it down like you do. These are some of my favorite articles.

12
by Sul (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:58am

Nice breakdown. I think it's pretty clear that Freeney is a terrific pass rusher. He had quite an impact in that game despite being up against a terrific left tackle. Seems to me teams should run at Freeney more. No matter the formation on offense, he runs upfield like a chicken with it's head cut off. There's no way he can react to runs directly. Jamal Lewis would probably just bowl him over even if he was able to see it in time.

13
by TMK (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:59am

FO IS all about taking a more objective look at things, it's true.

Why it has to be that way is when you hear the ESPN announcers telling you all night how Freeney is dominating the game, even when he's looping out yards away from the play.

Lincoln Kennedy on Total Access had this point last night -- when you hae the size advantage on a guy like Freeney, why not run at him? Ogden can drive him out of the way, that is if Freeney doesn't take himself out of the picture. Am I missing something obvious here?

14
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:00am

I liked this, and I like the fact that someone is watching things that the TV glosses over. Having said that, is a 105-103 in favour of Ogden really as favourable to him as it appears to be?

I would think that a score that balanced reflects better on Freeny than Ogden. A DE doesn't need to beat the Tackle on every play,(although if he can so much the better).

If an end can 'win' a small number of key plays per game, (3rd Downs, Sack out of FG range, Turnover forced) then this seems a decisive victory. That being the case, a O Lineman should need a big margin of victory to claim a 'win'.

15
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:01am

Ryan: What you're describing is pretty much what happened last year when they met. Ogden beat Feeney on all but a few plays, and Feeney ended up winning the match. This time Ogden kept Feeney under control, but it was other members of the Colts D that steped up and made the plays.

16
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:04am

Parker beat me to it! His comment wasnt there when I started, but you can't always post as quickly as you would like to from the office...

17
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:04am

TMK: It's cause Brian Billick is a genius, man! His thought processes are way above us mere mortals. If he decides that calling 6 straight passes when down by 3 in the third quarter even though he has Chester Taylor and Jamal Lewis in the backfield, who are we to question him?

18
by Sul (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:08am

Funny how the Patriots never seem to have trouble with Freeney. And Matt Light is no Jonathan Ogden. They chip block him all day and throw a TE over there to help on pass protection. The Colts defense should be slightly improved from last year, but c'mon, this d-line is not THAT GOOD. Hell their entire front 7 is undersized. If the Ravens can't figure out how to run on them, they are in for a long long season.

19
by Phill (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:17am

The matchup isn't as simple as Freeney makes a play / doesn't make a play. You can look at things like, on running plays, does he take himself out of the play, get blown off the line, hold his ground / hole pretty well, knock his guy into the backfield, or whatever. Is the RB waltzing through huge holes, or trying to find small gaps, or cutting back the other way because there isn't any room on this side? On pass plays, is he completely stymied except on one or two fluke plays, or is he consistently giving his blocker problems with the result that he occasionally makes a big play.

Naturally, you'd expect that the guy who is getting close to the QB every play to make more big plays, but with something like sacks that come along relatively rarely, one or two freak plays can completely skew things (in a minority of cases maybe, but it does happen). What MDS is (presumably) doing is looking more at the 'routine' plays, where nothing much happens - certainly nothing stats-worthy. So the fact that a defensive player only needs a few 'wins' per game to make an impact is kind of off the point - the guy who is winning the 'routine' plays will be more likely to make / prevent the big plays in the long run. Just counting sacks hides this precisely because it is something that happens on one or two plays in a game - it is statistically meaningless to compare two players based on sacks given up in a single game (unless there are a lot - beatinga guy for a sack 6 times in a game probably *is* significant).

20
by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:20am

Didn't the Seahawks defence look good at the beginning of last year? It folded a few weeks into the season. I'm expecting something similar from Indy. A great defencive performance against a horrible offencive team isn't really that much to get excited about. Not that the Colts D still sucks, but it's kinda early to read too much into this past week's performance.

21
by SLB1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:29am

Who says that Ogden (or any Raven, for that matter) made a mistake in missing a block that gets Kyle Boller blown up? If you ask me, they should give Ogden a medal. He did more to help his team by pushing Triplett into Boller than if he had completely dominated Freeney all night. I think (and I'm only half-kidding here) that this was a case of "friendly fire" and that no one on the Ravens is too bummed out over Boller's injury.

Also, I think most people would generally agree that defensive lineman are going to tire much, much, much more quickly than O-linemen. The d linemen have to work much harder because they are always trying to fight against something, while the o line is simply trying to establish a spot and hold their ground. That is why it is a good idea to rotate defensive line personnel if you have the roster to permit you to do so. So, the fact that Ogden seemed to get stronger as the game went on is not that surprising, and should probably not reflect that badly on Freeney.

22
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:36am

Interesting comment on how the Patriots deal with Freeney, and it points to a source of the Patriots' success; they force their opponents to try to beat them with their inferior players attempting things that they don't do well. If whatever success the Colts have on defense primarily comes from Freeney's outside pass rush, then the Patriots are going to take that away, and force the Colts to get big plays from other players. The Colts, like most clubs, even good ones, don't have enough balance to get those plays.

The Patriots, conversely, are very well balanced, which makes it much more difficult to dictate the style of play to them.

22
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:36am

So you're saying Ogden should be given the same accolades Mo Lewis got from New England fans? I dunno, watching Wright I think the only difference is he makes the wrong descision faster than Boller. Well, that and he's not winging the ball over anybody's head. Wright might be an improvement, but it's like the Tommy Maddox expirement in Pittsburg. After a lousy QB, anything looks good.

24
by Ima Pseudonym (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:58am

Nice synopsis of each battle, but how about a few other comparisons to add some context. How many sacks/big plays does Freeney average per game? How many sacks/big plays does Ogden allow per game? While the boxing match scoring is interesting, it doesn't really tell us whether Freeney played Ogden better than other defenders have, or whether Ogden played Freeney better than other OTs have.

To echo some of the prior sentiments, the scoring system also seems to favor the tackle - nobody expects a DE to beat the lineman and get a sack/tackle for a loss on every play. In Drive 4, Ogden wins 10/9 for keeping Freeney from making a big play (not because they ran past him for 25 yards or anything). In Drive 1 Freeney wins by the same score for being credited with pressuing Freeney into throwing an interception. Hardly equal effects on overall outcome.

25
by Geoff C (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:07pm

I'm with B on Wright. Wright looked like he had a stronger arm and was somewhat more accurate than Boller. But overall, I think he's worse for the ravens offense. He telegraphed his passes by staring down the receivers he was going to and consistently tried to throw balls into heavy colts coverage.

26
by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:12pm

I dunno that you can really directly credit Freeney with the Int there, Ima. How many times would Ogden and Freeney have the exact same result in their matchup but the pass falls incomplete rather than is intercepted. Freeney caused the errant throw. However it was Boller and the pass defender who made that errant throw into an interception, not Freeney.

In short, you can credit Freeney with the pressure, but you can't credit him with the INT. Now, if he caused a fumble by sacking Boller, then that I think would be a different situation and Freeney would deserve more credit for the turnover.

27
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:14pm

I think the scoring system is a fair way to judge how Feeney did Vs Ogden. Look at Drive 2 vs Drive 3. On Drive 2, Ogden rode Feeney out of the play, allowing Lewis to gain 25 yards (Ogden wins 10-9). On drive 3 Feeney bowled over Ogden, allowing Triplet to get a sack (Feeney wins 10-9). Had both plays happened in the same drive, they would have negated eachother. Sure if Feeney beats Ogden it could result in a turnover, but if Ogden beats Feeney, it could result in a touchdown.

28
by SLB1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:15pm

RE: 23 & 25

I kind of agree with you that Wright is not going to be the next coming of Joe Montana, but let's face it - The Kyle Boller Experience was not anything that anyone (except Brian Billick and his ego) wanted to see continue. Wright did utilize his TEs (particularly Wilcox) more effectively than Boller did. That is a good sign, because it showed that Wright was just taking what he could get. He did make some poor decisions, though, but so did Boller. Wright sucks, but it is time to try something new. I think that the Ravens offense had no confidence in Boller whatsoever (although obviously I have nothing that backs that up except my own impressions of watching the games) and a change at QB may give the offense a new start. We'll have to see, but I think getting rid of Boller can only be a good thing for the Ravens.

29
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:24pm

Re: the comments about Freeney tiring out first.

If you ever watch the opening round of the NCAA tournament you often see a team with an undersized center matched up against a team with a full-size center. The undersized center often holds his own in the first half but then tires out by the second half. He's having to burn much more energy every time they post-up than the bigger man, so even though he could well be in better shape, he tires out first.

I also observe this in my own games of pick-up basketball. I'm 6'4" but not in very good shape, and I'm often guarded by smaller players who are in much better shape; if it's a slow game (or half-court) and I'm mostly leaning against the smaller player (or he is leaning against me when his team has the ball) he will tire out before I do. If it's an up-and-down running match kind of game, I will tire out before he does.

So I think it makes perfect sense that Freeney would tire out before Ogden. They are both doing a lot of pushing out there, and every time Freeney needs to push Ogden it takes more energy than Ogden needs to push Freeney. Freeney could tire first even if he was in better shape.

30
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:29pm

I think Wright is an improvement over Boller, but I suspect it's a relative thing. Maybe the change at QB will allow Billick and Fassel to swallow thier egos and go to a more conservative offense, use thier real strengths in Lewis and Taylor, and give the defense time to rest. You know, go back to what won them the superbowl in 2000.

31
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:31pm

MK: It’s cause Brian Billick is a genius, man! His thought processes are way above us mere mortals. If he decides that calling 6 straight passes when down by 3 in the third quarter even though he has Chester Taylor and Jamal Lewis in the backfield, who are we to question him

Billick isn't the OC of the team, nor does he call the plays; so, we mere mortals shouldn't question Jim Fassel's play-calling

32
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:09pm

I thought that overall Tripplett had a better game than Freeney. Not that you'd know that from listening to the Three Stooges.

33
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:28pm

Princeton: Clearly the sophisticated Ravens offense requires two geniuses in order to work properly.

34
by Tri Shanku (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:20pm

I have also wondered why in the third quarter Billick/Fassel would not call run when they have Jamal Lewis in the team, opposing defense has small linemen and Baltimore O-line is better made for run. But then, San Diego went pass-pass-pass-INT in its last attempt at touchdown, with one timeout left and about 1:00 on the clock (yes, the same San Diego who have a RB called Tomlinson). So what do I know?

35
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:42pm

San Diego went pass-pass-pass-INT in its last attempt at touchdown, with one timeout left and about 1:00 on the clock (yes, the same San Diego who have a RB called Tomlinson). So what do I know?

more than Marty, apparently

36
by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:46pm

As a Colts fan & a washed-up old O-Lineman, I love this stuff. This type of scrutiny shows that O-Lineman win the vast majority of the battles but the playmakers on defense get all of the glory.

Some comments about Freeney-- I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that the Colts coaches constantly tell him to get upfield & cause havoc. It's kind of like a hitter in baseball-- look for the fastball but be prepared to adjust & hit the breaking ball. In Freeney's case, his #1 thought is to hit the QB but he must also be ready to adjust & tackle the RB if it's a running play. One time on Sunday, he flew past Ogden on his way to Boller but changed his angle slightly & flat-out crushed the Ravens RB for a 4 yard loss.

Plus, you can't expect Freeney to hold his ground & be a run-stuffer against the OT's in the league. Freeney is 6-1, 268...tops. Odgen is 6-9, 345. (When you get in a fight with a guy 8 inches taller & 75 pounds heavier, do you go toe-to-toe with him? I didn't think so.)

Besides, forcing Freeney to read & react would make him a much less effective player. He needs to come off the ball quick & use that speed vs the big uglies up front. I'm sure they set up the D to compensate for the fact that Freeney won't be plugging up that off-tackle hole on running plays.

I will agree with MDS that it wasn't Freeney's best game ever. An average game for him is 3 tackles & a sack. That's right-- his career high is just 47 tackles in a season. But he did pressure the QB into poor throws, he helped get sacks for his teammates, & he was clearly in Ogden's head (2-3 false start penalties). So even with 2 tackles & no sacks on Sunday, he is still very valuable.

Fun stat of the week-- 4th year DL Larry Tripplett had 1 sack in 3 years.
Sunday night-- 2 sacks for Tripplett. On one of them, Freeney lined up at DT & Tripplett at DE. Freeney came straight up the field hard drawing 2-3 OL & Tripplett stunted inside to clobber the QB. It was a thing of beauty.

It's a real good sign for the Colts D when Tripplett or Mathis make a big play & the ESPN guys say, "Man, Dwight Freeney is fast! Oh wait, that wasn't Freeney...)

37
by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:37pm

Freeney is a pass rusher... He doesn't have the size to stop the run, so he is sent after the QB almost every play... It was the same with Derrick Thomas...

He is a specialized player. He was a non-factor against the Pats, because the Pats ran right at him. (The Pats win for a reason.) When Brady dropped back to pass, Freeney did create a lot of pressure in that game. (Why was the game close for the first half?) The Pats adjusted, then got the lead, negating Freeney in the second half. If the Colts would have subbed out Freeney, Brady would have probably passed the ball a lot more in the second half.

Freeney is not the best defensive player in the league, but in the Colts gameplan, he is a perfect fit...

38
by Whatever0 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:28pm

Since there's alread the extended derail:

Anthony Wright is very, very bad. Last year, Boller had a DPAR of 23.1. In 2003, when Wright last played, his DPAR was -12.4.

The reason Wright looks better than Boller at times is that he has more confidence. He glides back in the pocket, releases quickly, and the ball goes right where he wants it to. The problem is, he's not good at picking where the ball should go. He's thrown 10 interceptions in his past 8 games, as compared to Boller throwing 12 in his last seventeen. He's not a good match if you want to limit turnovers from the QB position, which the Ravens obviously do.

As for the Freeney, it depends on how much you like a boom-or-bust player. The percentage of the time Freeney disrupts a play is probably small compared to an average DE, but when he does, it's generally a big play. Sort of like Barry Sanders, except on defense. Out-of-position, Out-of-position, SACK! Still, he's the best pure edge rusher in the league, and the Colts use him as that. I'm not sure that's worth All-Pro, but he's still a very good football player.

39
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:33pm

Interesting article, terrible judgements.

I bet if you put the top two players at several positions against each other you'd have a similar match. Drawing would be a likely outcome.

Also, he is supposed to edge rush. If a play is drawn up so that an edge rusher is out of the play, he may very well be out of the play.

You give that up, that has nothing to do wtih skill.

Wonderful concept, terrible execution (imho)

40
by Ryan carney (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:34pm

Watching the game on Sunday night, one could see the concern, if not fear, that Ogden had of Freeney. Despite the fact that he did only have three tackles, he was very disruptive to the whole Baltimore offense, almost as disruptive as Kyle Boller, (If i hear one more person try to defend this guy, I'm going to shoot them, hope you're reading this, JOE THEISMANN). Anyway, Freeney got good push, stuffed the run a few times, (which is not his forte), and was in Ogden's head, as he committed uncharacteristic penalties. Beyond stats, just watching the game, I would have to give the edge to Freeney, even though three tackles and no sacks is less than impressive. Penalties kill drives of running teams, and Freeney caused plenty

41
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:35pm

I think Feeney's a great pass-rusher, but if the Colts want this season to have a different ending than recent ones, they need to stop the run. The Colts seem to think the solution is Simon, but since he's apparently good for only 20 plays a game, and more of a pass rusher than a run stuffer anyways, I don't see how much that will help.

42
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:35pm

Freeney is not the best defensive player in the league, but in the Colts gameplan, he is a perfect fit…

I don't think and DE would do better at what Dungy asks of Freeney.

43
by Ryan Carney (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:37pm

By the way, evaluating this drive by drive is touch, because i Don't think the Ravens had an actual "drive" until Boller left...just some plays that sputtered out (Jamal's long run..etc), and then a bunch of three and outs

44
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:41pm

I think Feeney’s a great pass-rusher, but if the Colts want this season to have a different ending than recent ones, they need to stop the run.

They need to stop the run better, cover corner's better, have better linebacker play.

The Colts seem to think the solution is Simon, but since he’s apparently good for only 20 plays a game, and more of a pass rusher than a run stuffer anyways, I don’t see how much that will help.

Then why would you think they beileve Simon is the solution?

Why wouldn't you assume instead that they got Simon as a little more beef to clog up holes and another pass rusher to cause even more havok.

If you have a line with 4 players. You have 2 good rushers, and 2 who are middle ground.

You replace one of the middle ground with either a run stopper or a rusher.

If you get the run stopper, you can stop some runs better. If you get the rusher you can cause even more havok.

3 guys who can break through at any time (I'm counting Mathis/Brock as 1, Simon and Freeney, and completely ignoring tripplet who got 2 sacks?) you make the each individual more dominating.

Will it work? Who knows!

But it's exciting. And If you have the Colts offense, plus an extremely exciting defense (whose only two values are catching (interceptions) and sacks.)

Then why not! That's the point of the Cover 2.

You make them take as many plays as possible to get down the field, giving up yards all the way.

That's about exactly how you'd want your defense on a tight budget. I love it.

(warning, I am a complete colts mark.)

45
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:48pm

Then why would you think they beileve Simon is the solution?
You're right, I have no reason to think that, other than what pundits have said about the signing. Your explanation is much better, and it does sound like a lot of fun. Hopefully I'll get to watch the Colts a bunch this season, although I just can't bring myself to actually root for them.

46
by Tim (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:02pm

This is my first comment ever. So go easy on me.
Agreed that Feeney is a on-dimensial player--a speed rusher and little more. But there is a danger that any attempt to convert a one-dimensial player into an all -purpose player will simply create a player who is mediocre in every aspect of the game.
Play him to his strength.
I am no football expert but this site is fascinating and informative.

47
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:11pm

When Simeon Rice first went to TB from Arizona he was a one dimensional pass-rusher. Under the tuteleage of Dungy and the rest of the TB coaching staff, he grew into one of the best DE's in the league, a force in pass and rush defense. Obviously it might not be possible for Feeney to follow this path, Dungy probabally knows this better than I do, but it can be done.

48
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:11pm

Freeny/Ogden (or Freeney vs any LT) is a parallel to the FO article last week about Champ Bailey--if you graded Bailey play-by-play, he graded very high; BUT he had the unfortunate tendency to give up the bomb--which is pretty devastating for a cornerback

if Freeney's ONLY job is defined as sacking the QB (and everybody knows that) , then Ogden should be graded based on his ability to prevent that from happening

unless, of course, the two Ravens' offensive genii (TM) tried to use Freeny's upfield charge to trap him out of running plays

(but they didn't)

49
by Androo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:52pm

I just wanted to throw in that while I was watching the game and this pairing in particular I thought to myself, "Man, it would be great if MDS does another matchup article on Freeney and Ogden."

So, thanks! Great work as always.

50
by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:26pm

Some thoughts:

Freeney is what he is. He has great speed, can disrupt even if he doesn't make the play, and he's about 40 pounds too light to be a great run stopper. I still would like him on my team. Would YOU ask a guy 268 pounds to be a run stopper?

Re: Why the Ravens didn't just run (at Freeney) in the second half? Well, they had less than 50 yards rushing in the first half, when they actually tried to run the ball, so why think the run was going to work in the second half?

Re: Simon. I don't think any Colts coach or fan thinks he's the solution. If they did, the Colts would have been seeking a guy like him much sooner than cut week. However, he was free, the Colts had the cap room, and he will be an improvement for the team even if he plays only 30 plays a game. The Colts D line, being undersized, needs to rotate, and having one more quality guy to rotate will help them, whether he's a run-stopper or not.

Finally, Re: matchups with the Pats. Wow, this is much too early to worry about that. Yes, the Pats have always made the right adjustments against the Colts, and perhaps they will this year as well. However, one could question how well they will be able to adjust during games given the loss of coordinators. I, personally, don't think it will make much of a difference, nor do I think Simon will make much of a difference, and I am a Colts fan. Individually and collectively, the Colts will need to execute to beat the Pats, exactly what any team needs to do to beat a champion. People want to make the Colts's failures into failures by the "stars" like Manning and Freeney, but last year in the playoffs, it was the wide receivers and TE's dropping passes and fumbling in droves, the linebackers and DB's letting Dillion slip past after the initial hit, that started much of the problem. Yes, the stars fell flat as well, but you need a team effort, and the individual Colts who are better than average (Wayne, Stokely, Mathis, Sanders, Clark, the idiot kicker) need to have a better than average day to win.

51
by TMK (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:50pm

You run at someone like Freeney, Triplett and Brackett because you know the run will pay off in the second half, especially when first-game conditioning (such as Simon) will be an issue.

You run because the only reason you are behind at halftime is that your usually-reliable kicker has honked one, and your questionable QB has not killed you -- yet.

You run because you're on your home field, with a voluble crowd, an energetic defense and you have a line that is very good at drive-blocking, and not so good at dealing with speed rushers. Instead of playing to these strengths, the Ravens started throwing, which kept the defense on the field, got the crowd dispirited, and had Ogden and Mulitalo doing exactly the things they were worst at, instead of what they do best.

Why shouldn't you play to your strengths, particularly when the game is no worse than even? I don't know; I'm not Fassel or Billick. But that playcalling brought back bad memories of the divisional playoff with Tennessee -- which was started by Anthony Wright, btw.

52
by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 7:01pm

TMK:

Good points, but I don't think you are looking realistically at how BAD the Ravens running was in the first half. They had under 50 yards, and 25 came on one play. So, without that one play, they had 25 yards in 13 attempts! They had 9 attempts that gained 2 yards or less.

You're right, they should not have abandoned the run as they did, but there's nothing in those first-half stats that lead me to believe the outcome would have been any different. The Colts were clearly playing the run, and doing so successfully, so the Ravens had to try to pass a little.

53
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 7:39pm

Nice article. Didn't learn anything I didn't already know though ;). Ogden can really be a force in the running game, but the past couple years he hasn't been overly great in pass protection. Freeney I've long known was overrated. He pretty much sucks against the run. It's upfield or nothing basically. Maybe that's a bit much, but it's hard NOT to notice imo. He's worse than Rice was with the Cardinals.

54
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 7:47pm

To #51/TMK

I almost completely agree. I don't think they planned on the game playing out like that though. I think they probably planned a fairly balanced, maybe slightly pass heavy attack. Stupid imo considering how porous the Colts were last year against the run. And considering the personel they have. And considering how good the Colts passrush is in spite of everything else. Anyway I think they got away from their gameplan too early, and I don't think their gameplan was too great to begin with. Just give the ball to Smith & Jamal in a Steeler like fashion. I think Billick is pretty overrated actually. I have pretty consistently witnessed poor gameplanning on his part. His defense which I suspect he has not a lot of say in and never did have a lot of say in saves his ass time and time again. That and his GM who is pretty brilliant outside of the Boller move (which was actually more a Billick demand is my understanding, but maybe I'm wrong).

Also I wanted to add that I think Tripplett was their best lineman this game. The guy has improved significantly. He has every year he's been in the league pretty much. I hate the media hype machine. I'm not saying Freeney didn't ahve a big impact, but man, Tripplett deserved way more props than the announcers were giving Freeney imo...

55
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:18pm

So if Ogden's out of favor as the #1 LT in the League, how's my man Walter Jones looking these days? Eh? Eh? Gimme something positive to work with here, guys!

56
by David Etheredge (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:36pm

I really don't like this comparison at all. Smith seems to think that Freeney is somehow less effective because he takes himself out of a lot of plays by being over agressive and moving upfield beyond the play. That's his JOB in Dungy's scheme. It's why he's often in the backfield stripping the ball from the QB or tackling the running back for 2 - 3 yard losses. Also - late in the game when Freeney was held more in check, the Raven's were constantly double teaming him or using a tight end to "chip" him. A tackle of Ogden's ability is supposed to be able to handle any DE one on one. That's why he's a perennial pro bowl starter. Freeney is one of the few (maybe the only) defensive players that force the Raven's to give Ogden "help". You have to give Freeney points for that as it weakens the offensive protecion elsewhere (allowing Triplett & co. to get to the QB). Lastly, for anyone who actually watched the game, it was clearly evident that Freeney was psychologically dominating Ogden and that this contributed in a significant way to Ogden's multiple mental mistakes (failed block on Triplett on a stunt and several false starts). I'll just close by saying that if Smith thinks Ogden and Freeney aren't worthy of the pro bowl, then he's the last person I want evaluating talent on a weekly basis...

57
by pm (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:13pm

RE #56

Thank you David. Everybidy including MDS does not realize it is freeney's job to rush upfield on every play and contain the outside run. So the next time you see Freeney rush upfield and it is a draw to his gap remember it is the LB's responsibility for that gap.

58
by dan doyle (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:47pm

Freeny MVP defense this yesr. He was not up yo par for the last game because of intrusive thoughts secondary to impressions of sport misguided sports writers. Wait and see.

59
by Whatever0 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:01pm

I'm not saying it isn't Freeneys job. I'm just saying that he gets a massive advantage as a pass rusher becuase of it, so you can't look at just his sacks and call him a great player. If he was playing a more conventional DE scheme, he'd probably not get quite so many sacks. The fact of the matter is, Freeney's play does hurt his team when the opposing team doesn't pass. If he were to adjust his play to clear up that deficiency, he wouldn't get as many sacks.

You'll have to pardon me if I don't believe that "contain the outside run" line. He's too far out of the play to contain any play that doesn't involve a double reverse that conveniently occurs whereever the QB should be. He's a great pass rusher, but being behind or at the QB on every play isn't containment.

I'm not saying tackles are a great stat, but Freeney had was tied for 35th in the league among defensive ends in solo tackles, 54th in total tackles, and was tied for 83rd in assists. Yes, 83rd. Since you know he's not taking up blockers on running plays, it's pretty obvious he's just taking himself out of plays.

And, he didn't say Pro-bowl, but All-pro. Which, after one game, I'd be inclined to agree with.

60
by Nick (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:04pm

Re #46 - I am tempted to agree, for every Simeon Rice who can learn to be better rounded there's a Jovon Kearse who looses his one strength - the ability to get upfield and disrupt the passer - because a coach messes with moving him around and confusing his role. Reggie Jackson hit a ton of homers and struck out much more, those are just the way the numbers fall; any Dwight Freeny will take himself out of more plays than he makes - read Derrick Thomas, Fred Dean, Kevin Greene, etc. There's a reason the Reggie White's, Bruce Smith's and Michaels Strahan's are as great as they are - they can do it all.

61
by Tom M (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:01am

I'm not sure I agree that Freeney is run out of most every run play. The Colts play a one-gap defense and my bet is that Freeney (most of the time)has outside of the LT responsibility, ie, no run plays should go around the end. Someone else, probably one of the linebackers fills the G-T gap. In that case, he is doing just what he is supposed to be doing when he charges around the end and ends up being no where near the running play. He is playing his gap.

62
by b_emmerich (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:53am

I love the idea for these articles, but you're using a terrible scoring system (kind of like the NFL's current quarterback rating system ;-))

Using your system, the greatest defensive end against an average offensive lineman would get only a small win in almost every game of the year. Never mind that defensive play is even more about team strategy than an individual's role. A single sack can be devastating to a offensive drive, much more so than three straight 11 yard rushes. Offensive holding (10 yards), false starts, taking a potential receiver out of a pattern to help block, these should be worth more than just successfully blocking an end from getting a sack. If you want a fair evaluation, you would need to switch to some kind of weighted scoring system.

Also, to anyone watching the game, you could see how nervous Ogden was on a lot of plays, causing him to false-start, need help blocking, and get as far back of the line of scrimmage as possible. I've seen a few Baltimore games over the years (same division), and was always impressed how Ogden just casually man-handled a lot of other defensive lineman. Of course if Billick was just a little bit smarter he would have just power-rushed against Freeney all night, eventually gaining yards, wearing down a light-weight Indi defense, and probably wining the game. But that's another story.

63
by 2 Many Bruschis (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:23am

I am not sure how much merit there is in the comparison, but I found it a fun read nonetheless, and commend MDS on the attempt.

I agree that Freeney is an excellent pass-rusher, but I am in the camp that feels he hurts the team more than he helps it.

The problem with having only one obvious skill is this: on every down that Freeney is at the line you know exactly what he is going to do. In prepping to play the Colts, you can select personnel packages and formations to exploit this. I see this as a distinct liability for the Colts, as they lose versatility and deception in defensive line scheming.

64
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:00am

#56

David,

You want to see how an end is supposed to play in Dungy/Kiffen's scheme? See Simeon Rice. Sure he's a bit overaggressive at times, but usually it's on obvious passing downs and at worst (and this rarely is the case these days, but in the past more so) he's giving up some yards to the QB scrambling, something which is difficult to account for to some degree. Freeney on the other hand does this routinely, even on potential running downs, even on likely running downs at times. And he does it with such shocking regularity you have to either a) wonder what on earth is Dungy thinking? You really can't get away with that in the NFL and expect to be able to consistently stop guys, you can be aggressive, but this is just mental. Huge run after huge run... anyway... or b) he's just flat out undisciplined, but so damn talented that it's impossible to keep him off the field, even if for just his passrushing alone.

You think Dungy is pleased Freeney got the Pro Bowl? Well maybe Dungy is... but Parcells wouldn't be... and neither would a Belichek or a number of other coaches given how he plays (and knowing some players let things get to their head and don't bother working on their game because they think they do it all great already or what have you)... not a complete player AT ALL. Sorry. He's a 3rd down passrush end who happens ot be such a freak of nature it's impossible to keep him out of games. He's still very good overall. But he could be the best in the league. He just doesn't have his head quite in it.

65
by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:08am

Here's a thought for the Freeney-bashers: He doesn't always just sprint straight upfield, thereby taking himself out of well-crafted run plays/screen passes. (He does sometimes, but as pointed out by a few, it may well be the defensive plan.) As the talking heads on TV noted, he's developed the key DE techniques (bull-rush, swim, spin, etc) in the past few years, so he may sprint past an OT and sack the QB, or whiff on a run. Or he may spin inside. Or he may manhandle (probably by leverage and catching him offguard)a bigger OT and bowl him over, really f-ing up the offensive plans ("Help, a 350 pound man is falling on my leg and a 270 lber is chasing me!").

Therefore, if he was a straight-line sprinter only, I might concede the "he hurts as much as helps" point, but since his skills as well as speed make him a threat to do a few things, and the offense never quite knows what to expect (aside from the fact that he's likely to penetrate SOMEWHERE 60% of the time), I think he's worth the money they'll cough up next year to keep him.
Throw in the fact that he's generally doubled, freeing up somebody else to shine, Mathis last year (how many 230 lb DEs are there getting double-digit sacks!), Trip on Sunday night. What is that they say of great players in any sport, they elevate the play of their team mates? I think that's also one of his roles, partially by drawing blocking heat and letting the other guys elevate their games. IMHO. So is he a "great one?" Time will tell. But hs contribution is much more than his tackle numbers or his sack numbers, even. To truly measure it, you'd need to track all the plays he's in and all the plays he's out, to see how his teammates fare with and without.
MDS... we have a new assignment for you, should you choose to accept it....

66
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:08am

Also I should add that asking your LB's (especially when they are as mediocre as the Colts) to play in that much space against that many potential blockers is a bad bad idea. It's no wonder the Colts have had such a shockingly bad run defense since Dungy took over.

67
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 10:30am

It's not like the Colts were a great defensive team before Dungy took over. When Dungy was hired, the offense was top-5 in the league and the defense was terrible. now the Offense is top-2 in the league and Defense is average. I'd say Dungy has been good with the Colts, although they still need to find a way to stop the run.

68
by Ned (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:46am

Taking off my objective Football Outsiders hat and being a complete Colts' homer and big Freeney fan (although I do realize his limitations), I have a couple things to add.

First, if you look at adjusted line yards last year, the Colts were 30th in the league in terms of defensive lines. They were 28th in runs up the middle, 31st in runs behind the right tackle and 19th in runs behind the left tackle. 19th is nothing to write home about, but in truth, Colts' opponents had the least success running at Freeney of any other possible direction to run. This was also true in 2003. Given that most teams' best offensive lineman is their left tackle, I think that is worth noting.

Second, the Tampa 2 always is softer on the run than the pass. Current conventional wisdom is that the Colts are designed to get a lead and the defense will play pass. But look at Tampa, the other team that runs the same defense and a team that is in a fair amount of low scoring games. Counting bacwards from last year, their rush defense in terms of DVOA have ranked 9th, 8th, 9th, 12th, and 21st. Their pass defenses have ranked 6th, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, and 6th.

Finally, I am sure Freeney is instructed to rush a certain way. Tony Dungy has been called a lot of things (ok really just one thing--unable to win the Super Bowl), but I don't think anyone doubts the ability of his teams to play disciplined. If Freeney's "undisciplined" rush were not sanctioned by the coach, I would be very surprised.

69
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:58am

As Ned pointed out, the Cover-2 is designed to stop the pass. It was implemented specifically to stop the "west-coast offense," but it relies on skilled linebackers to handle passes to running backs and tight ends. This is the part that Indy is missing, although I'm sure Dungy is working hard to fix the flaw with the limited budget he has for his defense.

70
by Kami (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:31pm

The Indy linebackers are going to be much better this year against the short passes now that Morris isn't the starter in MLB. Not sure why nobody is mentioning this when they just say "Indy has always been bad at defending passes to RBs and TEs."

And I really have to agree with those who are supporting Freeny. For those saying he's one dimensional and that he's a liability because other teams know he's going to rush the QB, I don't buy it. Sure, they know he's going to do it, but nobody's really figured out a way to stop him without double teams, and how does his drawing two opposing players hurt his team no matter what he does? I think Dungy knows this and doesn't care whether Freeny has taken himself out of the run play or not. For all the psychological advantage opposing teams can have for knowing what Freeny's going to do, I say it's a disadvantage for opposing QBs to know that he's got a good chance to be in their face on every single play, and you can't even counter that with play action. This also goes a long way to explain the Patriots' relative success against the Indy pass rush--name me a QB who is not going to be phased by that. You know who I'm talking about.

71
by TMK (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:13pm

Ned,

Although there's a lot of good in your post, you made one overstatement which calls a lot into question.

The left OT is not "most teams' best offensive lineman." He's the best PASS BLOCKER, as most QB's are right-handed, so the left OT protects his passer's blind side.

On the Ravens, though, pass-blocking is not the primary objective for their linemen. Now Ogden has been in the league for several years, and he was the first pick of the team in Baltimore. Then his job was to cover Vinny's ample backside. The earliest Raven teams were actually very effective throwing the ball -- hell, it was the only thing they COULD do right.

Then Vinny imploded, as he does, and we got treated to the likes of Stoney Case, Eric Zeier, etc. The offense shifted to running, and Ogden and the rest of the line shifted their priorities. Edwin Mulitalo is adequate, at best, as a pass blocker. Right tackle has been a revolving door for 5 years now. Mike Flynn was supposed to be replaced twice now -- he's still the center. Right guard has seen almost as many changes as right tackle.

Pass protection has always been a problem for this team, and it's not going to change in one preseason. That's why abandoning the run made so little sense to me; the only thing it did was get Boller knocked out, so the vultures can circle even more around him. Judging Ogden as a pass blocker is like judging souffles by the amount of chocolate in them; it's tangential at best.

72
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:30pm

Which is what makes this battle so interesting. Ogden's strength plays into Freeney's weakness, and vice-versa. It seems to me that if the Ravens could commit to the run when battling the Colts, Ogden would look like the victor.

73
by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:11pm

TMK,
Regarding #71, Clearly there is a disconnect here: Freeney was covered in chocolate, while Ogden had the caramelized sugar topping. Both were delicious! Now with a MLB who is just chock full of lemon zest, I think the Colts' D will finally get a 2.5 to 3-star rating this year from those ruthless dessert critics. Bon apetit!

74
by TMK (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:28pm

Only problem, bobman, is that if it is as "runny" as I think, the whole thing will collapse come December or January.

Check, please!

75
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:35pm

I just want to say that the image of Ogden covered in chocolate is really, really disturbing.

76
by Fiver (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:31pm

In an effort to steer this conversation away from where it is currently going, I want to point out that the Ravens ran at Dwight Freeney precisely 3 times in the first half on Sunday. That's out of 30-some offensive plays.

If you had a 350 pound OLineman whose strength is run blocking matched up against a 250 pound DLineman whose weakness is holding the point of attack, wouldn't you actually make some sort of attempt to exploit that matchup?

I mean, isn't "Use your big guys to wear down their small guys" pretty basic football? It never ceases to amaze me how often NFL coaches completely out-think themselves.

77
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 8:32pm

No question Billicks gameplan was flawed from the start.

Ned - I never said he didn't have talent bro. He makes a lot of good plays, against the run and otherwise. But he could be dominating like Strahan in his prime. And really he should be. But he's not. He should be one of the best in the league against the run. He truely should. He is incredibly strong (I believe he threw it up 33 times and was no slouch with his max squat either). He has amazing agility and speed. I mean he's quite possibly the best pure athlete in the league. And he's a VERY good passrusher. The problem with him is more than once a game he takes himself about 10 miles outside of any given play. That is a MAJOR GLARING WEAKNESS. I'm sorry, there's not a football coach in their right mind who asks their players to do that. Not a one. Give him a few yards to work in laterally & vertically, and let him go out of a 3 point. I can understand being more aggressive with the rush, and that's fine, but there are definate degrees of riskiness. In this case the risk level is way too high and I can't in good conscious put it all on Dungy as I've seen him work with other DE's and they didn't have this same problem. To deny the problem is the first step ;)

78
by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 1:37am

You have to love TiVo! Because of this thread, I went back and looked at the game, and I was interested to see the times that Freeney did not just rush the outside. Two stand out, and I wonder if the Colts will do these more: 1) Freeney lined up at DT with Triplett at DE and they stunted on the play when Trip injured Boller. 2) In the 4th Q, Freeney lined up outside Ogden with a TE near him, and he dropped into zone pass coverage. The pass went away from him, incomplete (in other words, no effect except that the TE stayed in to block no one).

I guess that as a Freeney fan, I'd like to see the stats or the glaring "wins" for the offense when Freeney took himself out of the play, as the critics contend.

Additionally, the Colts D in general is set up to make big plays (like TO's -- tied for 3rd in the NFL in takeaways in 2004 -- and sacks -- tied for 3rd in the NFL in sacks in 2004), not to stop a grinding opponent. In general, only the Pats have had the patience to deal with the Colts and stick to their game plan, and Brady's been able to dink his way downfield with great success. Why other teams don't? Perhaps most teams aren't good enough to sustain those types of drives without giving up a big loss (TO, sack, penalty).

79
by TMK (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 12:54pm

Purds,

Most teams don't do it because they are pressured by the Colts' offense into moving quickly and scoring. Turning the game into a pinball machine works very well for a defense that focuses on rushing the passer and creating turnovers. Dungy's not stupid; his style of defense complements his offense quite nicely.

What galls me about last Sunday's game is that the Ravens had taken the COLTS' foot off the pedal, so to speak, but the RAVENS still insisted on playing the high-octane style. Just stupid.

80
by hungry dave (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 4:33pm

Last week, Ogden was interviewed and asked about Freeney and the game last December. While Ogden predicted he would have a better result this time, he conceded that Freeney was a special pass rusher. Specifically, he was amazed that Freeney could employ spin moves and double spin moves while all the while maintaining his speed off the line. From a physics standpoint, this is clearly not possible. But it's got to be in Ogden's head.
Bottom line is that each defense is constructed differently and the Colts D is only successful if they can make big plays. That means sacks and turnovers. Freeney does exactly what Dungy and the DC ask him to do. If you think he's freelancing out there, you're as daft as the talking heads on TV.

81
by Todd (not verified) :: Sun, 09/18/2005 - 8:33am

I am beginning to tire of the pro-Patriots and anti-Colts nature of the analysis on this website. Many of the reports are obviously bias. To hint that Freeney overrated is nonsense. He is arguably the most disruptive force in defense since Lawrence Taylor. The speed and pressure he generates causes offense to alter the nature of their attack. And speaking of the hallowed Patriots, why is it they double team the overrated Freeney? Because they know Matt Light has no chance one-on-one.

82
by MDS (not verified) :: Sun, 09/18/2005 - 9:18pm

Todd, don't confuse the article with the comments. I said nothing about the Patriots. I'm not pro-Patriots or anti-Colts at all.

83
by Troy Miller (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 2:34pm

Todd, to say Freeney is the "most disruptive force in defense since Lawrence Taylor" is completely biased and uninformed. I'm a Colts fan, I like Freeney, he is one of the better DE's in the league...that being said, I would still take Julius Peppers or Jason Taylor over him, as they are more complete. He is hardly the most dominant since (the real) LT. But I do agree that this site too often has a very biased slant to its "reporting."