Ravens Shooting Themselves in the Foot with Shotgun Happy Offense

November 14, 2011 | Thyrl Nelson

The Ravens have lots of question marks, that much is a given. For example, how are you liking “Cam under fire” so far? For all of the questions surrounding these Ravens though, perhaps the biggest and fairest is simply; how did they ever manage to win in Pittsburgh?


The Ravens have big problems on offense, problems that many were comfortable believing could be solved by putting Joe Flacco in the shotgun, where he’s comfortable. There are however huge problems that go along with making Joe Flacco comfortable.


For starters, they’re not running the ball in those situations. Not only are they failing to utilize one of their most explosive weapons on offense by taking away Ray Rice and the running game, but they’re essentially announcing pre-snap to the defense that they won’t be running. “No need to prepare for one of the most dangerous weapons in the league guys, just pin back your ears and get after the passer.”


Furthermore, on the road at least, Flacco is dead silent in the shotgun, no “Green 80”, no “set…hut”. Going to a silent count on the road stops the offensive players from listening for the quarterback making it all but impossible for Flacco to change or kill a play if he doesn’t like what the defense is showing. Instead Flacco goes to the line with either the play in hand or timeout as his options.


Lastly, because of the silent count, the defense is always aware of when the snap is coming, giving them a head start essentially. There are no hard counts to keep a defense off balance or to cause them to jump offsides, and most importantly it tells opposing defenses when it’s safe to show their real look. The NFL cat and mouse game between would-be blitzers and quarterbacks is ongoing. Defenses playing against the Ravens in the shotgun can show the offense whatever look they want until Marshal Yanda reaches over and slaps Matt Birk on the leg, once they see that, there’s no turning back for the offense, and blitzers can begin to cheat up in the box.


There’ll be lots more talk of “feeding the horse” this week, and deservedly so. I, for one don’t care how many carries or touches Ray Rice gets, as long as defenses have to account for him. On the road and in the shotgun, they don’t.


Here are some interesting numbers that I put together from Sunday’s Ravens game, and given the circumstances they were faced with, some comparable numbers from some of this season’s more memorable comeback victories this year.


I tried to find games where the winner trailed by double digits at or after halftime, or games with prolific early deficits. I didn’t choose the games to make the argument, if there are any other games you’d suggest looking at please post them.


The stats provided were gathered by me (very unscientifically) using play-by-play from box scores. All stats begin from the point in the game referenced until the end (excluding kneel downs).



On Sunday, faced with a 15-point second half deficit the Ravens went shotgun happy.


The Ravens trailed Seattle 22-7 with 12:26 in the 3rd quarter. From there:

34 shotgun snaps; 31 passes and 3 runs (2 by Flacco)

5 snaps under center; 4 passes and 1 run

% of snaps in shotgun – 87.1

% of passes to runs – 89.7


In Week 9 the Bengals trailed the Titans in Tennessee 17-7 at halftime. From there:

15 shotgun snaps (all passes)

31 snaps under center; 14 passes and 17 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 32.6

% of passes to runs – 63

Bengals win 24-17 (behind a rookie QB)


In Week 9 the Broncos trailed the Raiders 17-7 at halftime in Oakland. From there:

17 shotgun snaps; 4 passes and 13 runs

13 snaps under center; 4 passes and 3 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 56

% of passes to runs – 53.3

Broncos win 38-24


In the interest of equal time: In week 8, the Ravens went shotgun happy in the second half against Arizona but still managed to run the ball 10 times in erasing an 18-point second half deficit.

Also in week 7 Tim Tebow staged a shotgun happy, furious 4th quarter comeback against Miami, but Tebow’s a running back and as evidenced above the Broncos can and will run from the shotgun…a lot.



In Week 7 the Jets were down 21-0 at halftime against the Chargers. From there:

6 shotgun snaps (all passes)

29 snaps under center; 10 passes and 19 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 17.1

% of passes to runs – 45.7

Jets win 27-21


In Week 5 the (1-3) Chiefs were trailing the Colts 24-7 in Indianapolis at 5:11 of the 2nd quarter. From there:

3 shotgun snaps (all passes) * 2 in the 2 min. drill of the 1st half

46 snaps under center; 20 passes and 26 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 6.12

% of passes to runs – 53

Cheifs win 28-24


In Week 5 the Packers trailed the Falcons 14-0 in Atlanta at 12:26 of the 2nd quarter. From there:

28 shotgun snaps; 25 passes and 3 runs

24 snaps under center; 12 passes and 12 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 53.8

% of passes to runs – 71.1

Packers win 25-14


In Week 4 the Bengals trailed the Bills 17-3 at halftime in Cincinnati. From There

11 shotgun snaps; 10 passes and 1 run (5 of these passes and the run were in 2 min. drill)

20 snaps under center; 10 passes and 10 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 35.4

% of passes to runs – 64.5

Bengals win 23-20


In Week 4 the Lions trailed the Cowboys 27-3 in Dallas at 12:23 of the 3rd quarter. From there:

19 shotgun snaps; 18 passes and 1 run

7 snaps under center; 1 pass and 6 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 73

% of passes to runs – 73

Lions win 34-30 (Dallas helped throwing 12 passes against 11 runs before surrendering the lead)


In Week 4 the 49ers were trailing the Eagles 23-3 in Philadelphia at 9:34 of the 3rd quarter. From there:

7 shotgun snaps (all passes)

21 snaps under center; 10 passes and 11 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 25

% of passes to runs – 60.7

49ers win 24-23


In week 3 the Bills were trailing the Patriots 21-0 in Buffalo at 6:01 of the 3rd quarter. From there:

20 shotgun snaps; 19 passes and 1 run (9 in 2 min drill of 1st half and last drive of 2nd half)

24 snaps under center; 8 passes and 16 runs (4 runs by Fitzpatrick on the last drive)

% of snaps in shotgun – 45.4

% of passes to runs – 61.3

Bills win 34-31


More equal time: Drew Brees led a shotgun happy furious 4th quarter comeback against Houston in week 3, but he is Drew Brees and they were only down 9.


In Week 2 the Bills were trailing the Raiders 21-3 at halftime in Buffalo. From there:

26 shotgun snaps; 24 passes and 2 runs (14 on the Bills last drive)

23 snaps under center; 11 passes and 12 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 53

% of passes to runs – 71.4

Bills win 38-35


In Week 2 the Buccaneers trailed the Vikings 17-0 at halftime in Minnesota. From there:

17 shotgun snaps; 15 passes and 2 runs

14 snaps under center; 6 passes and 8 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 54.8

% of passes to runs – 67.7

Buccaneers win 24-20


In Week 2 the Falcons trailed the Eagles 31-21 in Atlanta at 1:39 of the 3rd quarter. From there:

6 shotgun snaps (all passes)

15 snaps under center; 7 passes and 8 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 28.5

% of passes to runs – 61.9

Falcons win 35-31


In Week 1 the Jets trailed the Cowboys 23-10 in New York at 14:50 of the 4th quarter. From there:

16 shotgun snaps; 15 passes and 1 run (7 on a futile 8 yd. Drive that ended in a punt)

6 snaps under center; 3 passes and 3 runs

% of snaps in shotgun – 72.7

% of passes to runs – 81.8


Looking for evidence of teams playing themselves out of games by going shotgun crazy? There are far too many to list. Start with any close loss by the Lions, Cowboys, Eagles or Bears.