Ravens hoping to exploit Jets' QB predicament

OWINGS MILLS -- Although there are no mulligans to alleviate the winless Baltimore Ravens' poor start, they are hoping to exploit the New York Jets' disastrous quarterback predicament. Jets starter Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler are unlikely to play Sunday due to shoulder injuries, so obscure third-stringer Brooks Bollinger is being prepared to start Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. In the past, the Ravens (0-2) have victimized reserve quarterbacks.

Last season, Baltimore beat the Jets 20-17 in overtime with backup Quincy Carter under center. Plus, the Ravens intercepted Sage Rosenfels three times in a season-ending win over the Miami Dolphins after he began the game with a 76-yard touchdown pass behind former cornerback Gary Baxter.

"We know they're struggling at the quarterback position right now," said defensive end Tony Weaver, whose team has won its past three games against the Jets. "We don't underestimate anybody. There's a reason why this guy is in the NFL. If he puts on a Jets uniform, he can play.

"We've played backups before, and they've thrown for 200, 300 yards against us. So, we've got to prepare for their system and hopefully we can shut that down."

Bollinger is a former Wisconsin standout who has played in one NFL game in three seasons. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder completed 5 of 9 passes for 60 yards in a win over the Arizona Cardinals last season.

"He's a heady player," Jets coach Herm Edwards told reporters Monday. "He's a gamer. When he has gotten into a game, he has moved a team. He's looking for a chance and it looks like he is going to get one."

Although Pennington vowed that his throwing arm would have to be cut off for him not to play, it's unlikely that he'll be available after his surgically repaired shoulder's latest setback. Pennington and Fiedler are awaiting the results of magnetic resonance imaging exams today.

The Jets are likely to sign another quarterback. It's unclear if it will be Carter, who is unemployed but has had off-field problems involving substance abuse.

"That's my gut feeling," Edwards said when asked if Bollinger will start. "Like my daddy used to say, ‘Trust in your gut. It doesn't lie.'"

The Ravens aren't expecting major schematic changes from the Jets regardless of who's under center. They still have veteran running back Curtis Martin and receivers Laveranues Coles, Justin McCareins and Wayne Chrebet, although the offense ranks 27th overall under new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.

"I'd imagine that they're going to have to stay with the team profile they have right now, so that's what we'll prepare for," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "What I have seen of Brooks Bollinger, he's an athletic quarterback. He moves around in the pocket real well and throws the ball real well.

"He fits within the profile that they have been throwing up until now. So, I don't know if they are going to make a huge dramatic change if indeed he is the quarterback."

The Ravens' track record is definitely strong against backups.

Last season, Rosenfels completed 16 of 38 passes for 264 yards He was undone by three interceptions, including one that defensive end Jarret Johnson returned for a touchdown.

Carter completed 13 of 22 passes for 175 yards and no touchdowns for the Jets in the Ravens' 20-17 overtime win Baltimore manhandled the Denver Broncos in 2003 as journeyman Danny Kanell threw for 114 yards and was intercepted twice.

After generating only one sack and one turnover to rank 17th in total defense, Baltimore isn't taking anything for granted even with Bollinger's inexperience.

"I'm sure he's going to come in with the Ben Roethlisberger attitude," defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Ben got his chance to shine. He took the window and blew it wide open."

With the Ravens in last place in the AFC North and trailing the Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) by 2 ½ games, this isn't a time where statistics carry much importance.

"It's a good week to win, how about we start there first," said Suggs, who has no sacks after generating 22 ½ in his first two seasons. "Let's worry about that one first. Then all that dancing and stuff, I'm sure that will come."

Under Billick, the Ravens are 4-2 following a bye. However, this year's team has only scored 17 points, been penalized 18 times and has a minus-5 turnover margin.

"This is a new season for us, it sounds awfully naïve, it sounds like coach speak," Billick said. "We understand the position we put ourselves in with the previous two weeks, but it does absolutely no good to focus on that. We're starting the season against the Jets at home.

"That's the mentality we're going to take. I know our fans will embrace the same thing. We've got to give them something to respond to. We haven't done that yet."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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