Florio: Formula for Ravens is 'defense first'
Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback the Ravens will face since being shredded by Peyton Manning in Week 1.
The Ravens (3-2) believe they have gelled defensively over the past month. Facing Rodgers and the Packers this Sunday will tell the Ravens exactly where they stand defensively.
“Peyton is probably one of the best ever to do it,” said Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. “I think Aaron Rodgers is making steps that way. When you’re playing a quarterback that has control over the offense and their receivers are in tune, you have to be on your best game. We’re looking at this game like we’re facing another Peyton Manning. To Aaron Rodgers’ credit, he’s a little quicker with the ball, he has better arm strength right now.”
That could mean trouble for the Ravens. Manning had seven touchdown passes against Baltimore during a 49-27 rout in September. Since then, Matt Elam has replaced Michael Huff as a starting safety, and Smith has raised his game playing opposite Lardarius Webb at cornerback.
The Ravens hope their pass rush, led by Terrell Suggs, can create sacks, hurries, and turnovers. However, while Manning picked the Ravens apart from the pocket, Rodgers is more mobile. Not only does he scramble for first downs, Rodgers’ ability to buy time can lead to big plays. Against the Dolphins, the Ravens were hurt several times when quarterback Ryan Tannehill scrambled and completed throws downfield. Rodgers can do the same thing, only with more regularity.
“He’s an incredible athlete, he can put the ball anywhere he wants to, very accurate, and he has receivers who are in tune with him,” Smith said. “He’s human, but at the same time, he is still a terrific quarterback.”
The Ravens do not like hearing about what Manning did to them in Week 1. However, Sunday is their chance to face another elite quarterback. The Ravens are determined to create a different result. “Week 1 was Week 1,” Smith said. “Everybody wants to talk about it. I think we’re playing a lot better."