ReFo: Browns @ Ravens, Week 17
The Ravens ultimately needed a helping hand from the Chiefs to get into the playoffs, but it wasn’t clear they were going to take care of business themselves until late in the fourth quarter against the Browns. However, it would have been something of a minor miracle had Connor Shaw been able win his first ever NFL start against the league’s best pass rushing defense. That problem was confounded by how little pressure the Browns’ defense was able to generate, giving Joe Flacco the time he needed to lead the Ravens back from a deficit.
Let’s take a look at the key performances.
Cleveland Browns – Performances of Note
Nick McDonald, C: -4.1
Breakdown: Since the injury to Alex Mack the Browns have attempted to turn to McDonald and the dropoff has been enormous. Mack ended his season ranked ninth among centers while McDonald is 39th of 41 having played just eight games. His performance against the Ravens was particularly disappointing as he gave up more pressure than any other lineman (one sack, one hit and a pair of hurries) despite the relative protection of being in the middle of the line. What’s more he finished with the third worst run blocking grade on the team. Overall this was a week, and a season, to forget for McDonald.
Signature Stat: McDonald is bottom of the league (95.5) in Pass Blocking Efficiency for centers.
Connar Shaw, QB: -4.4
Breakdown: Shaw certainly didn’t show NFL ability in his first NFL start, but then the Ravens’ defense is one of the best in the league. Baltimore’s plethora of pass rushers allowed them to generate pressure on 14-of-34 dropbacks and Shaw was only able to respond with two completions on 9 attempts for 58 yards and a pick. The former South Carolina standout graded positively with a clean pocket (+0.7) but just failed to make enough plays to give his team the win in a low-scoring affair.
Signature Play: Shaw’s tough day was summed up at 7:14 in the fourth quarter when he was unable to connect with a wide open receiver on a post route which would have given the Browns a first down.
Paul Kruger, OLB: +1.5
Breakdown: Kruger’s excellent form of the past month continued as he concluded his season with his fourth green-graded game in a row. This one will be particularly sweet with it coming against his former team. Kruger was able to generate a sack and three hurries on 16 rushes and was the only Brown to grade in the green as a run defender. Only missing the tackle and allowing yards after the catch on his only target stopped his day from being even better.
Signature Stat: Kruger is sixth overall in Run Stop Percentage (6.9) but he has missed ten tackles which equals the worst at his position.
Baltimore Ravens – Three Performances of Note
Owen Daniels, TE: -3.1
Breakdown: We’re not used to seeing such poor performances from Daniels who had a day to forget in every department against the Browns. As a receiver he caught two of three targets for 46 yards but also had a drop. Similarly in run defense he graded positively just once, struggling in particular with his pull blocking. Daniels also allowed a tackle for no gain on a play where he got nothing but air on his block attempt. As the main tight end (playing 64-of-70 snaps), Daniels will need to improve to make sure rookie Crockett Gilmore (+1.0) spends his sophomore year on the bench.
Signature Stat: Daniels is 18th of 19 qualifiers in Drop Percentage for tight ends (five drops on 53 catchable passes).
Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee, OLBs: -3.1 and +3.1 respectively
Breakdown: The Ravens may have hit on one linebacker out of Alabama taken early in the draft (CJ Mosley) but it’s increasingly looking like Upshaw won’t fulfil his potential. He looks like the same player in his third year as he did coming out. Against the Browns he allowed a first down in coverage, failed to make any stops and recording just the solitary pressure on ten rushes. In contrast Baltimore’s fifth-round pick in 2011 continues to go from strength to strength. McPhee graded positively in every facet of play, recording two sacks, a hit, a hurry and a batted pass as a rusher and to go with four defensive stops.
Signature Stat: McPhee has only failed to record multiple pressures in a single game this season while Upshaw has been shutout nine times.
Ladarius Webb, CB: +1.2
Breakdown: After a rocky start to the season it looks like Webb is back. He has a +5.7 in his past five games so it seems as if he’s coming into form at the right time for the Ravens. Webb will get a chance to avenge his poorest game of the year when the Ravens head into Heinz field next weekend. He should be high in confidence too, after allowing just one catch on six targets for nine yards with a pick. It wasn’t a flawless performance as Shaw missed an opportunity to burn him on a scramble drill but otherwise this looked like the pre-injury Webb.
Signature Play: Webb sealed the Ravens’ place in the playoffs with a pick of Shaw on the Brown’s last drive (2:28 in the fourth quarter) when he peeled back underneath a pass and high pointed the ball for an interception.
PFF Game Ball
Pernell McPhee finished with the highest grade and was the most active Raven, notably chasing down a screen pass close to the line of scrimmage when it seemed likely to be a big play.
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