Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Jan 2012

ESPN: Can Ravens Slow Patriots Attack?

The Ravens finished No. 1 in defensive DVOA and defensive DVOA against the pass, but how much does that actually matter against the Patriots offense?

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 16 Jan 2012

19 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2012, 11:45pm by herry


by Don´t know better (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 5:40am

My opinion, is NO they will not slow them enough.

Argument 1: Flexibility of NE offense. Take one weapon out, the others will strike.

Argument 2: Vollmer plays again. That is why I say: "Vorwärts Vollmer!"

no argument: mojo or so. history sometimes repeats, sometimes not. We will see.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 9:56am

Re: "Argument 2" -- however, as NYG showed in The Game That Shall Not Be Named, Brady is the single point of failure and if BAL can get consistent pressure up the middle, Brady is far, far more mortal.

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 11:04am

They didn't show that at all. They showed that if the OLine has problems, Brady will. They also showed that if the Patriots keep doing the same thing over and over when its not working, its not going to just start working.

In 2007, they had very little line depth, and Neal getting hurt in the 1st quarter was pretty much the kiss of death (especially against NYG's line). Their 3rd or 4th reserve lineman (now) is better than the 2nd guy was in 2007.

And Connoly is better than Koppen. Especially against stronger tackles.

by thendcomes :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 3:08pm

That's exactly what he said.

PatsFan: Giants got consistent pressure up the middle and Brady had problems.

RichC: You're totally wrong. Giants got consistent pressure up the middle and Brady had problems.

by SteveF (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 1:30pm

Consistent pressure with 4 while dropping 7 beats every elite quarterback, not just Tom Brady. Jams/man underneath prevent quick throws and there's not enough time to throw deeper routes to test weak spots on the zones.

The question, as is always the question when playing the elite quarterbacks, is whether you can get that pressure with 4.

I suppose you have a puncher's chance to win if you disguise pre-snap reads well and get a few well timed blitzes, but that can just as easily go the other way on you.

As for the relative fitness of this Patriot team to handle pressure, the jury is out. You can imagine a situation where problems with protection force their TEs to chip at the line on their way out on routes, reducing their effectiveness in the passing game.

by Nathan :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 1:39pm

I think it comes down to Hernandez being available honestly. If he can go, the offense has 2 extra gears, the plays he makes himself as well as the extra stress it puts on a defense.

by Andre Carter (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 4:26pm

Just a reminder--even though the Giants got tremendous pressure up the middle and the Pats O line played their very worst game of that season, the Pats still lost the Super Bowl because they were on the other side of the luckiest, once-in-a-lifetime play in the history of sports.

by thendcomes :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 5:56pm

That's a little hyperbole, don't you think? Ignoring that an entire game is not won or lost because of a single play, that one play wasn't even the most critical play of that drive, let alone the game. Jacobs' run on 4th-and-1 a few plays earlier was. The helmet catch happened on 3rd down.

by dryheat :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 7:11pm

I'll go one further and say that the 3rd down play on that sequence was the biggest play of the game. Without going back to the game book, my memory says it was 3rd and 11 and the Patriots played it soft, giving up 9 1/2 yards and allowing the Giants to go for it on 4th down. I do remember that the Giants had all 3 time outs, and if they're facing 4th and, say 5, from that area of the field, they almost certainly punt.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 6:51pm

The Immaculate Reception was a pretty lucky, once-in-lifetime play too.

by dryheat :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 7:12pm

Just another reminder that Brady had significantly hurt his ankle in the AAFC game, and was in a walking boot for two weeks. His pocket escapability was roughly zero in that game.

by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 8:17pm

As Ben R. will tell you, it didn't happen unless you shouted it from the roof tops all day, every day.

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 9:54pm

And that's different from his current escapability?

by PatsFan :: Tue, 01/17/2012 - 12:19am

Brady's never a threat to scramble or break a tackle and throw on the run, but he's pretty good at the little slides, spins, and step ups to avoid a rush and buy a precious fraction of a second. When he has working feet.

by Bernie (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 7:26pm

What's the status of Ed Reed? If he's unable togo, or his effectiveness is reduced by the ankle injury, then that's a huge nail in the coffin for what the Ravens will need to do.

For the Ravens to have a chance, they need to get so much pressure the TEs will have to remain in to help block for a little while, and they have to Jam them on the line of scrimmage to prevent the timing routes to give guys like Reed a chance to make plays on the ball.

If they can do that, I think they can stay in the game. Plus if Ray Rice can pound them on the ground and open up the deep passes that Flacco loves to throw, then they may have a shot.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 8:30pm

As far as we know, Reed will play. No idea how effective he will be, or if the pain will linger, but he was ok after the game (noticeably walking around without a trainer or a limp after the game, carousing with the Texans in the post-game handshakes)

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/16/2012 - 9:43pm

I give the Ravens less chance than I did the Giants, mostly because I think the Patriots offensive line is better than the Packers.

by Eli (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2012 - 12:14pm

In 2009 the Patriots had 57% Pass DVOA and Ravens had -9.2% Pass Defense DVOA. In 2011 Patriots have 60.7% and Ravens -16.4%. And, yes, Welker got injured just before that playoff game but the Ravens secondary was also very dinged up in that game. The Ravens #2 and #3 CBs had gone on IR (Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb) while Frank Walker and Corey Ivy were playing snaps in the secondary.

by herry :: Tue, 01/17/2012 - 11:45pm

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For the Ravens to have a chance, they need to get so much pressure the TEs will have to remain in to help block for a little while, and they have to Jam them on the line of scrimmage to prevent the timing routes to give guys like Reed a chance to make plays on the ball.