In this post, I planned to write about the job the Titans’ offensive line did in pass protection against the Ravens. Before I got round to writing this post, though, my Football Outsiders colleague Ben Muth, a former All-Pac-10 offensive lineman at Stanford and somebody who knows a heck of a lot more about the specifics of playing offensive line than me, wrote this piece on just that subject.
One thing Ben didn’t write about that I was concerned about heading into the game is the pressure the Jaguars got against Hasselbeck with stunts and twists. Re-watching the game with a focus on that, it didn’t seem like that was naturally a big part of the Ravens’ pass-rush philosophy and it wasn’t a big deal.
I’m guessing part of it is the defensive line personnel-they don’t have the quicker tackles, so it’s harder for them to get outside. One thing they do is try to replicate the effect by disguising their rushers and bringing a second-level defender to achieve the same effect. I saw them have the defensive line slant to one side, and bring a second level defender on the side they were slanting away from. I also only saw one real overload blitz, on the third down play right before the big fourth-down pass to Quinn Johnson late in the game. The right side of the offensive line, plus Ringer, did a good job of not allowing any free rushers that play.
Overall, I’d say the most important aspect of the protection was Matt Hasselbeck. He did a good job of getting the ball out, on time, to a receiver. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did not. That, more than anything else, was the difference in the effectiveness of the opposing pass rush and ultimately the result of the game.