In the Ravens’ nine games this season, they’ve faced some strong quarterbacks, and some not-so-strong quarterbacks. This week, well, the Panthers will have one of those “not-so-strong” guys taking the snaps. With the opening day starter Matt Moore being inconsistent, ineffective, and injured, and the rookie Jimmy Clausen being even more inconsistent and ineffective, throwing in a concussion last week for good measure, the Panthers turn to rookie 6th-round selection Tony Pike this week against a Ravens secondary that boasts a recently-returned Ed Reed at the free safety position.
How did it come to this? Well, it’s simple. Matt Moore was the opening day starter. He tore a labrum in his throwing shoulder, and will be missing the rest of the season. He was replaced by rookie Jimmy Clausen, the 2nd-round draft pick out of Notre Dame whose name was discussed as the top overall prospect early in the scouting process. Clausen’s inexperience showed quickly, as he was obviously intimidated by NFL defenses, after seeing the likes of San Jose State and Army on a yearly basis while in South Bend. The Panthers lost the five games he featured in by a combined score of 124-46, and he’s managed to only rack up a 98.8 yards per game average, while attempting 138 passes. If you were wondering whether this was due to him completing a high amount of sure-fire, checkdown passes, it wasn’t. He’s only completed 48.6% of his passes.
With Clausen being concussed and the Panthers not in any real rush to get him back, they look to Tony Pike, whose name translates to “Panther King” in Swahili, to be the savior of their football team. Pike, who accumulated a career record of 17-3 in two seasons at Cincinnati, is almost exactly the same size as Joe Flacco (6-6, 230 pounds), but was drafted for the purpose of being a third-string or practice squad quarterback, not an NFL starter.
Look for the Ravens to constantly change defensive looks, and for them to attempt to make Dwayne Rosario, the Panthers’ tight end, a non-factor in the passing game. If the Ravens can stuff Pike’s security blanket, it could be a game full of checkdowns and bad passes. Or he could go Tom Brady all over the defense, throw for 450 yards, make Ed Reed pull a hamstring, and lead his team to a 50-point victory. Nothing’s impossible.