Derek Carr is a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback who received a five-year, $125 million extension in the offseason from the Raiders and has started 51 of 52 games since Oakland took him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. EJ Manuel is a 2013 first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills who was released after the 2016 season and signed by the Raiders in March to a one-year, $800,000 deal.
Despite the seemingly obvious difference between the quarterbacks, the Ravens have spent this week insisting that Oakland’s offense under Manuel will not look that much different from the one under Carr. The latter is expected to miss two to six weeks — beginning to with Sunday’s game at Oakland Coliseum — because of a transverse process fracture in his back suffered in a loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
“They run the same type of offense,” Ravens middle linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “I don’t think they’re going to change up as much offense as other people would think because he’s been in the system, he ran it in the preseason. A lot of the calls are, we think, going to be the same. For the most part, we’ve just got to make sure that we do our job no matter which quarterback plays in the game.”
But strong safety Eric Weddle did agree that there is a drop-off between Carr, who threw 28 touchdown passes and only six interceptions last season, and Manuel, whose best season is an 11-touchdown, nine-interception showing in 2013.
“EJ Manuel is a capable quarterback, but he’s not as good as Derek Carr,” said Weddle, who is close friends with Carr. “That’s just the reality of it. If he was, he’d be starting somewhere. That’s just the truth. There’s no disrespect to him. I think he is a good quarterback, but there are just some things Derek can do that other guys can’t. It gives us an opportunity to get some energy.”
At 6 feet 4 and 237 pounds, Manuel is slightly bigger than the 6-3, 215-pound Carr and has rushed for 324 yards and four touchdowns. Manuel has faced the Ravens once, completing 45.5 percent of his passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Buffalo Bills’ 23-20 win Sept. 29, 2013.
That is one reason Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the unit can’t afford to take Manuel lightly.
“There are certainly some things that EJ Manuel — when you look back at his career — does differently from Derek Carr,” Harbaugh said. “But he’s definitely going to run the same offense. They’re not going to change their offense, there’s no question about that. And you could see in the Denver game and in the preseason, he runs the offense well. But other things they may add with him, we’ve got to be prepared for, and that’s a little bit of a guessing game. So we’ve got to figure out what those things are.”