Week 1 is always a challenge for NFL teams. It’s hard to plan a game for a team that hasn’t played a game yet. The teams no longer show anything and play no one in pre-season. For the Jets, this week’s challenge has been even tougher since the Ravens changed defensive coordinators.
Baltimore hired Mike Macdonald this offseason to replace longtime coordinator Wink Martindale, who now serves in the same role with the Giants. Macdonald had been a position coach in Baltimore for several years under Martindale, then moved to Michigan last year to be the Wolverines’ coordinator.
That meant Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has been spending a lot of time watching Big Ten football lately.
“I mean, it was his first year coordinating, so you must have put a lot of time into it,” LaFleur said. “I mean, there’s probably about 1,100 games of the Michigan defense and you tried to figure out the defenses, the plays, the offenses that kind of had an NFL-type deal, so you have to look at the Georgias, Michigan States, a bit of Ohio States, although they’re a bit more open than most NFL teams, but yeah, you have to step back and leave no stone unturned.
This is LeFleur’s second year working and he feels more comfortable now than a year ago.
“It’s the first week, so is there more comfort for the second year?” said LaFleur. “Yeah, there’s more comfort whenever you have experience in anything, but again, there’s so much because it’s the first game you have to be prepared for, to prepare your players, but yeah, I would say the comfort is definitely there.”
The Jets stressed on defense this week that they needed to stop the Ravens on first and second downs in order to keep Lamar Jackson and company out of third and short when they almost always convert.
“When you go back and watch it, usually when you watch a team and study the shorts, three, four shorts break a game,” Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “It’s like these guys have 10, 11, 12, 13 third-and-1, third-and-2, fourth-and-1 a game, so they’re living in that third, short window because they’re so effective at first and second. second down, so to keep them out of the short yards, we have to win the first down, we do, we have to win the first down.
“It comes down to running defense, this game has got to be exceptional and if you do that you give yourself the opportunity to play against a bit more normal football on second down and when you do that I hope you can let them in. the third and longest window where it gives us the opportunity to be a bit more creative.
New York Post