OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens play their first game of the year against a read-option quarterback when they face the Buffalo Bills' EJ Manuel on Sunday. The defending Super Bowl champions also get their first shot at a rookie quarterback, too.
The Ravens have had their way with rookie quarterbacks in the John Harbaugh era, going 5-2 against them since the start of the 2008 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. One of those losses can't be blamed on the defense because Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert only threw for 93 yards against the Ravens.
Baltimore has picked off starting rookie quarterbacks nine times and allowed two touchdown passes. Starting rookie quarterbacks have a 58.8 passer rating against the Ravens.
Asked if the Ravens try to pressure or confuse rookie quarterbacks more than veteran ones, linebacker Terrell Suggs said, "You pretty much play all quarterbacks the same, for the simple fact that they’re an NFL quarterback. You can’t take that for granted. They got here, and if they couldn’t play, then they wouldn’t be here. [EJ Manuel] is starting, and he’s doing some good things for them.”
Manuel was just 1-for-10 when the Jets rushed five or more last weekend, and 1-for-8 when a defensive back rushed.
"You go through ups and downs and you’re seeing situations where EJ has shown great poise, you see situations where he’s very competitive and at times maybe frustrated," Bills coach Doug Marrone said in a conference call with Baltimore reporters. "I don’t think that’s any different than any other rookie in the league or anyone at any position. It’s just one of those things of learning how to manage it so you can play at a level of consistency as well as a high level of winning games."
The Ravens haven't faced a mobile quarterback like Manuel this season, and they haven't had to defend the trendy read-option offense yet. But Baltimore is certainly prepared for it.
According to defensive coordinator Dean Pees, the Ravens had a practice period devoted to defending the read-option every other day in offseason workouts and in training camp. Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran it against the Ravens defense.
Do the Ravens believe mobile quarterbacks are becoming the NFL's new prototype?
“We’ll see," Suggs said. "Everybody thought the ‘Wildcat’ was here to stay, and you really don’t see too much of it anymore. This may be. We’ll just have to see how defenses handle it going forward."