Flacco’s Defiance is Refreshing But Misguided

November 18, 2011 | Thyrl Nelson

Nestor asks Flacco about throw vs. run ratio for Ravens 
Every season arguably has a turning point, whether it’s for the better or for the worst, and it sure feels like one way or the other, these Ravens are finally there. Cam Cameron, under fire from the owner before the season began, under fire from the fans for most of the season, seems to be drawing fire from within the locker room and even within his own offensive unit of late. At the very least, the locker room was guilty of a collective “huh?” and head-scratch when assessing Ray Rice’s work load or lack thereof lately.


As momentum gathers quickly in the Cam-bashing movement and speculation mounts as to whether he and quarterback Joe Flacco are or can be “on the same page”, the quarterback uncharacteristically broke from the collective sentiment of the fans and locker room and was defiant in his defense of the second half game plan that played out against Seattle.


I’m glad to see the fire from Flacco, as I can imagine many are. I’m even gladder to see that publicly at least, he has the coordinator’s back, and I’m hopeful that the “us against the world” mentality that they seem to be harboring all of a sudden amounts to production on the field. But Joe, we did watch the game, and your anger is misplaced (yet amusing) and your assessment is flat out wrong.


As I’ve stated repeatedly and will continue to stand by, I really don’t care about the run/pass ratio as much as I do about the Ravens use of the shotgun formation. Abandoning the running game is one thing, but announcing that your doing it by use of the shotgun just seems to give the opposing defense much less to account for. No matter how you slice it, the Ravens use of the shotgun on 87.1% of their second half snaps and their decision to pass on 89.7% of second half snaps are not only alarming and indicative of panic, but they’re also way out of line with the ratios of any successful NFL comeback this season.


Numbers never tell the whole story, but they usually at least provide a nice jumping off point. Here are some interesting numbers generated by the Ravens thus far, and some responses to Flacco’s refreshing yet misguided commentary.


When asked about the imbalance in the run/pass ratio Flacco responded “What do you think is going to happen when there’s 5:22 in the 3rd quarter and you’re down 22-7?” and added when asked about running more “It doesn’t make sense…Did you watch the game?”


We have watched the game, all of the games in fact, and as football fans we’re conditioned to understand that 20:22 in football time is an eternity, and that to throw out 75% of the playbook and start running the Houston Cougars offense with that much time left and only down two scores is a panicked strategy that only makes sense in “John Madden Football”. And in fairness the Ravens got the ball for the first time (and began their panic stricken approach) with 12:26 left in the 3rd quarter and 27:34 left in the game.


The Ravens have had possession on offense 110 times this season and have scored 189 points on those possessions (counting PATs). Their opponents have had 113 offensive possessions and have scored 159 points. That’s 12.22 possessions per game for the Ravens and 12.55 possessions per game for their opponents. That means that under normal circumstances the Ravens should have expected to see the ball at least 5 times with nearly an entire half of football remaining and down two scores.


With 24 average possessions combined for the Ravens and their opponents per game, the average length of any drive is just under 2:30. The Ravens’ hectic and hurried approach, in theory should have allowed them more than their average 6.11 possessions in a half of football, instead (even with drives of 4 plays and 0:56, 6 plays and 2:55 & 3 plays and 1:24) the Ravens only got 5 total second half possessions. Thus their hurried approach not only amounted to little on the scoreboard, it also did little to conserve the clock (or the defense).


Flacco added that you couldn’t expect the defense to shut down the opposition from there either. These are still the Ravens right? Of course we expect the defense to shut them down…Have you been watching the games? Hell, we expected them to score. The Seahawks inherited 4 possessions in Ravens’ territory and the defense held them to 4 field goals as a result. The defense needed some rest to prepare for an offense that they overwhelmed for most of the night they needed a sustained drive from the offense much more than a quick strike.


And again, because we do watch the games, we understand that offenses become predictable when they’re leading by two scores in the second half too. At the time referenced by Flacco, the Seahawks (and any NFL team) were far more concerned with protecting the ball and milking the clock than risking possession to score some more. Their predictability would have played right into the Ravens’ game plan to, had they simply stuck to the right one.


Some interesting numbers:


vs. Pit – Offense – 12 possessions and 27 points; Steelers Offense – 13 possessions and 14 points


@ Ten – Offense – 13 possessions and 13 points; Titans Offense – 11 possessions and 26 points


@ St.L – Offense – 13 possessions and 30 points; Rams Offense – 12 possessions and 7 points


vs. NYJ – Offense – 14 possessions and 13 points; Jets Offense – 16 possessions and 17 points


vs. Hou – Offense – 12 possessions and 29 points; Texans Offense – 12 possessions and 14 points


@ Jax – Offense – 13 possessions and 7 points; Jaguars Offense – 14 possessions and 12 points


vs. Ari – Offense – 14 possessions and 30 points; Cardinals Offense – 13 possessions and 27 points


@ Pit – Offense – 9 possessions and 23 points; Steelers Offense – 9 possessions and 20 points


@ Seattle – Offense – 10 possessions and 17 points; Seahawks Offense 13 possessions and 22 points



Ravens Offense 110 possessions and 189 points (1.71 points per drive)

12.22 possessions per game


Ravens Opponents 113 possessions and 159 points (1.40 per drive)

12.55 possessions per game