Trou­ble­some ‘D’ awaits Man­ning

Gi­ants QB has had dif­fi­culty with unit be­fore

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Ed­ward Lee

Out­side line­backer Ter­rell Suggs will not gloat over the suc­cess the Ravens de­fense has en­joyed against Eli Man­ning. That makes sense, con­sid­er­ing that only five play­ers are left from the last time the team faced the quar­ter­back in 2012 and that that group does not in­clude stars Ray Lewis or Ed Reed.

And there’s the fact that the face of the New York Gi­ants car­ries the last name that has be­come syn­ony­mous with quar­ter­back­ing ex­cel­lence.

“He’s a Man­ning,” Suggs said. “So they know what they’re get­ting, and they know ex­actly where to go with the ball, and they be­come dan­ger­ous like that.” Still, it’s not a stretch to ar­gue that Sun­day, 1 p.m. TV: Chs. 13, 9 Ra­dio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM Line: Gi­ants by 31⁄

among the 31de­fenses Man­ning has faced in his 13-year ca­reer, the Ravens (3-2) have proved to be one of the most trou­ble­some.

In three meet­ings against the Ravens, Man­ning has a 51.0 quar­ter­back rat­ing and a 44.9 com­ple­tion per­cent­age — both of which are his low­est against an op­po­nent. He has been in­ter­cepted three times while throw­ing just two touch­down passes, and New York is just 1-2 in those games.

By com­par­i­son, Man­ning’s older brother Pey­ton had a 104.4 passer rat­ing, a .642 com­ple­tion per­cent­age, 25 touch­downs against just six in­ter­cep­tions and a 9-2 reg­u­lar-sea­son record against the Ravens.

In his rookie sea­son, Eli Man­ning com­pleted just 22.2 per­cent of his passes (4-of-18) for 27 yards, zero touch­downs, two in­ter­cep­tions and a 0.0 quar­ter­back rat­ing in New York’s 37-14 loss to the Ravens on Dec. 12, 2004. Dur­ing the game, de­fen­sive play­ers got into the head of Man­ning.

Even in his lone win — a 30-10 thump­ing Nov. 16, 2008 — Man­ning con­nected on 56.5 per­cent of his throws (13-of-23) for one touch­down, one in­ter­cep­tion and a 73.3 rat­ing, but the of­fense was pow­ered by 207 rush­ing yards.

Dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with Bal­ti­more me­dia Wed­nes­day, Man­ning said he could not re­call his pre­vi­ous per­for­mances against the Ravens.

“I can’t re­ally re­mem­ber over the years,” he said. “They’re al­ways a good de­fense. They have good play­ers. We have to go out there and try to find ways to make plays and get pos­i­tive yardage.”

Man­ning’s per­spec­tive might be clouded by the Gi­ants’ three-game los­ing streak, which has co­in­cided with sub­par per­for­mances from their quar­ter­back. In two wins, he com­pleted 73.9 per­cent of his throws for three touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion en route to a 106.9 quar­ter­back rat­ing. In the three losses, those num­bers slid to a 57.6 per­cent com­ple­tion rate, two touch­downs, three in­ter­cep­tions and a 73.8 rat­ing.

Man­ning’s strug­gles this sea­son have opened the door for fans and me­dia to won­der whether his time as a fran­chise quar­ter­back is dwin­dling. Man­ning, 35, who has three years left on an $84 mil­lion ex­ten­sion he signed in 2014, is ranked 20th in the league in com­ple­tion per­cent­age (.636) and tied for 22nd in touch­down passes (six) de­spite hav­ing a re­ceiv­ing corps that in­cludes Odell Beck­ham Jr., Vic­tor Line­backer Jar­ret John­son, right, sacks Gi­ants quar­ter­back Eli Man­ning for a 7-yard loss in 2008. “They’re al­ways a good de­fense,” Man­ning said of the Ravens. Cruz and stand­out rookie Ster­ling Shep­ard.

“[It’s] just go­ing against a cou­ple of good de­fenses and just haven’t been able to score when we got down,” Man­ning said. “We’ve had some de­cent drives and just haven’t been able to fin­ish off the drives and sus­tain them long enough to get touch­downs on the board. We just have to find a way to get in rhythm, get some com­ple­tions, get the run game and just get all of our weapons go­ing.”

With Ryan Nas­sib and for­mer Raven Josh John­son back­ing up Man­ning, New

Pre­ston’s take

For Mike Pre­ston’s blog post on how the Ravens need their young pass rush­ers to step up, go to York coach Ben McA­doo has no choice but to de­fend his starter. McA­doo in­sisted that he’s not pan­icked about Man­ning’s play.

“When things go well, the quar­ter­back some­times gets a lit­tle too much credit,” McA­doo said. “When things don’t go well, he gets a lit­tle too much blame. I think there’s enough of that to spread around, in­clud­ing my­self.”

For all of the dif­fi­culty Man­ning has en­coun­tered thus far, he still com­mands a cer­tain level of re­spect among the Ravens. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, safety Lar­dar­ius Webb ref­er­enced Man­ning’s re­sume as a two-time Su­per Bowl cham­pion.

“To me and to all the guys, he’s Eli Man­ning,” Webb said. “He’s been around here for some years for a rea­son. He’s able to get the job done.”

A sports her­nia pre­vented cor­ner­back Jimmy Smith from get­ting onto the field in the Ravens’ 33-14 vic­tory over the Gi­ants on Dec. 23, 2012, but he has watched enough film to be im­pressed with Man­ning’s strengths in and out of the pocket.

“He’s some­body who gets the ball out very quick,” Smith said. “He’s a vet­eran, likes to read the cov­er­age and make a throw to the right spot. He’s a good scram­bler, he scram­bles to throw. That’s a very good at­tribute for a quar­ter­back.”

De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dean Pees said he spends time watch­ing a quar­ter­back’s good plays. And Pees said there’s enough on film to be con­cerned about Man­ning.

“First of all, the guy’s an ex­pe­ri­enced guy that’s got a cou­ple Su­per Bowl rings,” Pees said. “So he’s ob­vi­ously pretty darn good. He’s got great com­mand of the of­fense. That’s his of­fense, he runs it. He does a lot with the pro­tec­tions. It’s all at the line. So it’s a no-hud­dle of­fense. It’s his baby. I know they’re ra­dio­ing things in, but it’s his baby, and if he does the job of rec­og­niz­ing the cov­er­age and what you’re in, he’s go­ing to get you — just like his brother. That’s what wor­ries me the most about him.”

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN 2010

Ter­rell Suggs helps Gi­ants quar­ter­back Eli Man­ning off the turf. Man­ning is ranked 20th in com­ple­tion per­cent­age and tied for 22nd in touch­down passes this sea­son.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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