By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
12:00 PM EDT, July 24, 2013
Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
The annual Football Outsiders Almanac arrived in my email inbox this morning, which felt like Christmas for a football and numbers nut like me. Today’s addition of “Five Ravens stats that stand out,” the first since the Super Bowl, will feature tidbits from their 2013 almanac, but I highly recommend picking up a copy of it here.
59.3 -- percentage of total defensive plays from 2012 lost by the Ravens this offseason, per Football Outsiders.
Unless you hibernated during the offseason, you know the Ravens lost several major defensive contributors. Bernard Pollard, their leading tackler in 2012, is gone. So is Paul Kruger, their most productive pass rusher. Cary Williams and Ed Reed, who tied for the team lead in interceptions, are too. And then there is that Ray Lewis guy. The Ravens lost a staggering amount of their 2012 production: 59.3 percent of their total defensive plays, according to Football Outsiders. That includes 53.4 percent of their stops, 55.8 percent of their defeats, 52.7 percent of their sacks, and a 76.9 percent of their interceptions. Still, despite all that turnover, there is reason to believe their defense will be better in 2013.
2.2% -- the Ravens’ defensive DVOA in 2012, 19th in the NFL.
How dominant has the Ravens defense been throughout their history? They finished in the top six in the NFL in defensive DVOA, the main stat Football Outsiders uses to evaluate performance, in every season from 1998 to 2011. Last season, though, the Ravens did not resemble their smothering selves, which was reflected in many of the standard NFL defensive rankings. They also sunk like a stone in DVOA, dropping to 19th in the NFL after ranking first in that category two seasons ago. Will the new additions help them get their groove back?
43 -- percentage of plays the Ravens used three-WR sets.
The Ravens opened up their offense last season, using three-receiver sets on 43 percent of their offensive plays, which was up from 28 percent of their plays in 2011. They used three or more wide receivers on 45 percent of their plays. That total was below the league average in today’s pass-happy NFL -- there were 21 teams that used three or more wide receivers more often -- but it represents a significant change for the Ravens. But with Anquan Boldin gone, will the offense revert back to more of a two-TE offense? They used two tight ends on 21 percent of their plays after using two on 37 percent in 2011.
1st -- the Ravens’ ranking in special teams DVOA in 2012.
Based on Football Outsiders’ signature stat, the Ravens had the NFL’s top special teams unit in 2012. They ranked third in the kicking game, third in kick coverage, 10th in punt coverage, third on kick returns, and ninth on punt returns. Their solid to spectacular performance in every facet of special teams gave the Ravens a 9.0 percent DVOA in that phase, which was a radical change from 2011, when they ranked 30th in the NFL.
14.4 -- percent odds the Ravens will return to the Super Bowl.
Some in the national media expect the Ravens to take a step back after losing Lewis, Reed and other valuable veterans from their Super Bowl squad. Others think the Ravens will be better after shuffling the deck, particularly on defense. Based on projections by Football Outsiders, the number-crunchers believe there is a good chance the Ravens will be contenders again in 2013. Football Outsiders calculated that the Ravens have a 14.4 percent chance of getting back to the Super Bowl, the sixth-best odds in the NFL. Only the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and -- gasp! -- the Washington Redskins have better odds.
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at email@example.com or tweet at me at @mattvensel. If I use it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug on the blog.
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