On Sunday, September 11th, 2022, the New York Jets dropped their 2022 NFL Regular Season opener at home to the Baltimore Ravens. In a game where the line favored the Ravens by 6.5, New York falling 24-9 is not surprising. After all, Baltimore has their eyes on the AFC Championship, and further, the Super Bowl. Whereas the Jets hope to contend for the playoffs to begin with.
Nevertheless, for a young team like the Jets, there was plenty of good about the way they played. The team appeared more physical defensively, with more playmakers on offense. However, there was still plenty of bad and ugly about the play of Gang Green in Week 1. That being said, let’s break down the good, bad, and ugly as the Jets are 0-1…
New York Jets Week 1 Loss: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
At first glance, one would have thought the Ravens would blow out the Jets. The last time the two teams met was in 2019 when Lamar Jackson casually passed for five touchdowns while rushing for 86 yards. Baltimore steamrolled New York 42-21, which would have been a fair score expectation coming into Sunday.
Instead, the Jets defense had something to say about that. The Ravens were held to just 274 total yards (211 passing, 63 rushing) on 53 offensive plays while converting on five of 13 third down tries. The linebacker corps showed out, as C.J. Mosley, Quincy Williams, and Kwon Alexander were everywhere combining for 30 tackles and a sack. Along the defensive line, Quinnen Williams was wreaking havoc not accounted for by the box score alone, as Carl Lawson had two quarterback hits in his Jets regular season debut.
No, the New York Jets may not have any superstars on their defense. Yet, they made it clear they are a physical unit hungry not to be pushed around any longer.
Rookies Flashed Potential.
Were there any breakout performances at least? Nope. Though, the young talent wearing Gotham Green showed what they are capable of.
On offense, running back Breece Hall totaled 23 yards on six carries, including a long of 14. The second-round pick also hauled in six receptions for 38 yards, with drops playing a role as he had 10 targets. First-round pick, receiver Garrett Wilson, was as shifty as advertised on his way to 52 yards on four receptions with eight targets. Rookie right tackle Max Mitchell also saw his first career start, but more on that later.
Defensively, Sauce Gardner is already making an impact in the Jets secondary. The fourth overall pick out of Cincinnati saw 34 snaps in coverage, with a pass breakup and only one reception allowed for eight yards. Simply put – Gardner is good.
Lastly, defensive ends Jermaine Johnson II and Michael Clemons saw plenty of time in the rotation against Baltimore. Both finished with two tackles, as Johnson even split his first career sack with free agent pickup Jacob Martin. In other words, despite nobody necessarily “breaking out”, the rookie class got off to a solid start.
During training camp, 37-year-old quarterback Joe Flacco looked good. His signature tight spiral was flying around, and he was building chemistry with his playmakers. Even before Zach Wilson was hurt, Flacco’s play at this point in his career was impressive. Then, once the game kicked off, that all went down the drain.
To preface, the offensive line’s pass protection was extremely underwhelming. Flacco is not a mobile guy by any means, but for a player in his 15th season, he waited too long to throw the football. He took just three sacks is impressive, but a handful of his 22 incompletions on 59 attempts could have been completions if thrown sooner and not once the defender is in his face. As a matter of fact, there were a few questionable throws Flacco got lucky were not intercepted. Ultimately, Flacco finished with 37 completions for 307 yards, with a touchdown and one interception.
By the end of the game, Mike White chants arose from the Jets fans at MetLife. Chances are, the Jets won’t make a quarterback change before Zach Wilson returns from injury. If they were to do it, there is a chance the legend of Mike White returns when the Jets host the Cincinnati Bengals at home in Week 3, where White upset them a year ago.
Lack of Rushing Attempts
Improving the run game this off-season was a top priority for the New York Jets. Already with Michael Carter on the roster, the team drafted Hall to form a high-ceiling duo in the backfield. That’s why it is so puzzling that Jets running backs only saw 16 carries on Sunday.
Yes, the Ravens controlled the game in the second half, forcing Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur’s hand in needing to throw the ball. And no, not every run was great, as a chunk of Carter and Hall’s yards came on carries of at least 14 yards. That being said, LaFleur must prioritize establishing the run game more next week against the Cleveland Browns. With Myles Garrett and company going after Flacco, he cannot be throwing 59 passes again. If New York can feed the Carter-Hall combo effectively, the offense can be dangerous.
Offensive Line Issues
Here is where the New York Jets lost the game to Baltimore. Right off the bat, losing Mekhi Becton for the season was bad. Losing his replacement Duane Brown to injured reserve with a shoulder injury was even worse. It led New York to start rookie Max Mitchell, who came into the NFL as a developmental prospect, and it did not go well.
The lean 6’6” and 307-pound fourth-round pick’s struggles in both run and pass blocking were only the beginning. Veterans George Fant and Laken Tomlinson had uncharacteristically bad performances. Alijah Vera-Tucker held his own on the ground but had one of his elite run-blocking, underwhelming pass-blocking games. On the ground, the Jets run game was inconsistent. Occasionally there was a big run, then LaFleur steered away from the ground game altogether.
In reality, the Jets are lucky Flacco was only sacked three times. In the game, he was pressured 16 times, with pressure in his face constantly. Again, while he did hold the ball long, it was not like he had much time to throw it. The offensive line group needs to mesh together, otherwise, it will be another winless September for the Jets.
Third Down Efficiency
The final note on the New York Jets Week 1 loss to the Ravens is their horrid third down percentage. New York converted just two third down tries out of 14 tries, for a 14.3% conversion rate. Those numbers will make this a very long season for the Jets, and they got bailed out Sunday by going three for four on fourth down.
At the same time, New York had a +104-yard advantage on the Ravens, having held them to just 274 total and 24 points on the day. The Jets had a +11 first down advantage and controlled the play clock by 5 minutes. Sunday was painful progress for the Jets, and they need to adjust their offensive approach to have a shot in Cleveland on Sunday, September 18th.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images