A preview of Sunday’s Week 1 Jets-Ravens game at MetLife Stadium.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson vs. Jets first seven
Jackson didn’t get the long-term contract he was looking for, so now he’ll begin his effort to change the Ravens’ minds this offseason. Jackson presents many challenges with his style of play. He is the only player in NFL history with multiple career games with at least three touchdown passes and 100 rushing yards.
The Jets’ strength is their defensive line, led by Quinnen Williams and Carl Lawson. They struggled on the run in 2021, finishing 29th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and 32nd in rushing touchdowns allowed. The Jets believe those stats were misleading thanks to a few bad days with big plays. We will soon find out if they are better this season.
“It’s a huge challenge,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “It’s just one of the most unique offenses and obviously Lamar is one of the most unique players in this league so it’s an absolute headache but I definitely believe our guys are ready to take it up and I’m excited for the challenge, although it’s great.
Week 1 is tough. You never know what to expect. The Ravens are the better team, but they’re struggling with injuries and Lamar Jackson spent the preseason trying to negotiate a new contract. The Jets will fly on an emotional day at MetLife Stadium. The Jets win a clash every year. This time it’s week 1.
Jets 27, Ravens 24
Rookie debuts: The Jets and general manager Joe Douglas received rave reviews in April for their draft, and we’ve been talking about it now for nearly ¹/₂ 4 months. The group will finally be on the pitch, with Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall and Max Mitchell all set to have big roles, and Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons and Jeremy Ruckert set to contribute as well.
“You’re going to have some amazing moments,” said head coach Robert Saleh. “If I had hair I’d pull it out, but you’re also going to have ‘wow’ moments because they’re explosive. They’re full of energy and they have a lot of talent, but at the same time the look mental I’ve always said it before you play young guys with the hope that they become veterans mentally while they still possess all of their athleticism that they showed when they ran at the combine and their professional days.
Dealing with issues: The Jets are healthy enough to go into this game, with a few glaring exceptions. One is quarterback Zach Wilson, of course, but they now have another big problem to deal with after left tackle Duane Brown suffered a shoulder injury in practice Monday. Brown was signed in August when Mekhi Becton was lost for the season to a knee injury.
With Brown out, the Jets will bring George Fant back at left tackle and launch rookie Max Mitchell at right tackle. It’s a scary proposition. They’re high on Mitchell as a prospect, but Louisiana’s fourth-round pick was never expected to play this early. Calais Campbell and the Ravens defensive line could have a big day.
Tight pressure: Although Lamar Jackson is the headliner of the Ravens’ offense, tight end Mark Andrews is right behind him. Andrews is Jackson’s favorite target, and the Jets, between safeties Jordan Whitehead, Lamarcus Joyner, nickel cornerback Michael Carter II and their linebackers, are going to have to find a way to slow him down. Andrews led the NFL in receiving yards (1,361) and receptions (107) among tight ends last year and was tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (9) by tight end.
The September blues: September hasn’t been kind to the Jets lately. They’ve lost their last 12 games in the month, dating back to 2018. The last game they won in September was Game 1 of 2018, when Sam Darnold made his Detroit debut. It feels like the Jets’ seasons ended before they even started, with 0-3 starts every year since. For the Jets to achieve their goal of playing meaningful games in December, they need to win some in September, or we’ll get to the draft position by October 1.
New York Post