Studying Ray Rices Impact, Among Others

rayrice4.jpeg has released more than a dozen three-year studies on different aspects of the game, trying to objectively look at who is the best and worst in the NFL.

The player analysis and game-tape junkies uncovered some interesting findings. Remember, this is a league-wide study of just the past three seasons.

Here are some of the factoids about the Ravens:

Yards Per Route Run – RBs: Ray Rice ran more routes (1,199), than any running back. He also led in receiving yards (2,197). Rice averaged 1.83 yards per route run (sixth). He had the third-most touches in the NFL (1,069) and most offensive yards from scrimmage (5,885).
Takeaway: Rice is perhaps the best dual-threat running back in the league in rushing and receiving. Fans have questions how many rushes Rice gets in the past, but in total touches he is among the league leaders.

Drop Rate – RBs: Rice had the eighth-lowest drop rate among running backs. He dropped just 4.4 percent of passes thrown his way, and was targeted a league-high 269 times.
Takeaway: Just more evidence about Rice's effectiveness in the passing game. He's got great hands.

Pass-Blocking Efficiency – RBs: Among running backs, Rice allowed 24 combined sacks, hits and hurries, the seventh most in the league. But he was in pass protection 293 times over that span, the eighth most.
Takeaway: Since Rice is such a key receiving weapon, the Ravens also use him in pass protection as a decoy. The 5-foot-8 Rice has a tougher time blocking than bigger running backs.

Elusive Rating: Rice got a 20.2 elusive rating (37th). It's a measure of which running backs are toughest to bring down, either by running over or around would-be tacklers.
Takeaway: This one is surprising considering Rice's opponents always talk about the running back's elusiveness. Rice was 30 spots below his former backup, Willis McGahee. Rice caused 108 missed tackles, but was lower than most of his peers in yards after contact with 2.0.

Yards Per Route Run – WRs: Anquan Boldin ran the eighth-most pass routes in the NFL (1,704). He did not rank among the best or worst when it came to yardage gained per pass route.
Takeaway: The durable Boldin is a major piece of an NFL offense.

Drop Rate – WRs: Boldin dropped the ball just 5.94 percent of the time (13th best).
Takeaway: Boldin has one of the league's best sets of hands. He's got very strong hands that help snatch the ball.

Pass-Rushing Productivity – Edge Rushers: Terrell Suggs played in 1,452 pass-rush snaps (fourth among edge rushers). He wasn't ranked in the top 10 of total pressures or top 20 in most productive, however. Former Raven Jarret Johnson had the lowest pass-rush productivity in the league, getting pressure 5.06 percent of the time.
Takeaway: It's surprising that Suggs isn't graded as the most effective, but can perhaps be explained by the fact that the leaders in this category are more specialized rushers. For example, the Minnesota Vikings' Jared Allen ranks 19th while Miami's Cameron Wake tops the list.

Tackling Efficiency – Edge Rushers: Suggs had the fourth-most total tackles (147). He did not rank among the best or worst when it came to tackling efficiency.
Takeaway: This shows that Suggs is a complete linebacker. He is a force against the run.

Tackling Efficiency – DBs: Bernard Pollard had the fourth-most tackles (269) of any defensive back. He did not rank among the best or worst when it came to tackling efficiency.
Takeaway: One of the bigger hitters in the game, Pollard puts up big stats too. He has a nose for the football.

Pass-Rushing Productivity – DBs: Pollard had 14 total pressures (tied for 10th). He created pressure 10.53 percent of the time.
Takeaway: Pollard, who is built like a small linebacker, is a good candidate for blitzes out of the backfield.

Tackling Efficiency – LBs: Ray Lewis had the ninth-most tackles (309) of any linebacker. He did not rank among the best or worst when it came to tackling efficiency. Interestingly enough, Washington's London Fletcher (also 37), leads the list with 389 total tackles.
Takeaway: Even in his late 30s, Lewis is still racking up tackles with the top linebackers in the game. You don't have to be in your 20s to bring people down.

Deep Passing: Joe Flacco threw deep (a pass of 20 yards or more) on 14.71 percent of his attempts, the eighth most in the league. He threw for 2,247 yards on deep passes (sixth) and tossed 27 deep touchdowns (tied for fourth with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers). He wasn't in the top 10 in deep accuracy.
Takeaway: The Ravens air it out with their strong-armed quarterback and he has had much success in that department. As Flacco gets more deep playmakers, and gains more timing with his new young one in Torrey Smith, his accuracy will likely rise.

Tackling Efficiency – Interior Rushers: Haloti Ngata had 132 total tackles (seventh). He did not rank among the best or worst when it came to tackling efficiency.
Takeaway: Ngata is a bona fide run plugger.

Pass-Blocking Efficiency – Centers: Matt Birk had the third-highest marks in pass-blocking efficiency for centers in the NFL, meaning how many pressures he gave up compared to how many he faced.
Takeaway: Despite being 35 years old, Birk is still one of the top pass-blocking centers in the game.

Pass-Blocking Efficiency – Guards: Bobbie Williams had the fourth-best pass-blocking efficiency among guards. The newly signed veteran graded higher than Ravens departed guard Ben Grubbs over the past three years.
Takeaway: While Williams is older than Grubbs, perhaps the Ravens didn't lose as much at that position as pundits have thought. Williams is known for his run blocking too.
Side note: Marshal Yanda was not part of the three-year study (since last season was his first starting full time at guard), but he was tops in the NFL among all guards in pass-blocking efficiency in 2011 (98.7). Yanda allowed just nine total pressures and two sacks.

Pass-Blocking Efficiency – Tackles: Michael Oher allowed 116 total pressures, tied for the ninth most. When it came to efficiency, he had the 15th-lowest efficiency.
Takeaway: An immediate starter as a rookie, Oher has improved with time. He has allowed fewer sacks each season. Others with lower efficiencies than Oher over the past three years include 2010 Pro Bowler Donald Penn (Tampa Bay) and Atlanta's Sam Baker.

Pass-Blocking Efficiency – Tackles: Bryant McKinnie had the 13th-best pass-blocking efficiency (95.00). Two years of that were with the Minnesota Vikings and one with the Ravens. McKinnie allowed 107 total pressures.
Takeaway: Despite offseason chatter chiding McKinnie, the stats show he's been one of the league's best in pass protection.

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