After a sluggish start in the first half, the Baltimore Ravens offense sprung to life with a three-touchdown outing from quarterback Lamar Jackson. As the game progressed, the Ravens improved and leave with a victory over the New York Jets 24-9.
Jackson and the offense were off to a slow start in the first half, with Jackson taking shallow completions with his wide receivers. Some speculated the lack of preseason for Jackson and the rest of the Ravens starters could be to blame. In the second half, Jackson got back to his traditional Week 1 form with two touchdowns to wide receiver Devin Duvernay and a 55-yard bomb to a wide open Rashod Bateman.
Jackson did throw an interception late, his first in four Week 1 games as the starting quarterback. Not all interceptions are created equally and this wasn’t the worst of them with the Ravens being up multiple scores and it being late in the fourth quarter, but it’s still not a good thing.
Running backs: C
The running back room is still being sorted out. That much was apparent as the Ravens started with Kenyan Drake for two series, then going to Mike Davis for the following and then giving Justice Hill a series afterward. It’s not fair to fault them too much as in the first half there wasn’t much room to be gained on the ground. However, in the second half holes began to form and Kenyan Drake. In the end, the running backs combined for 46 yards on 15 carries (3.0 ypc).
Tight end: B-
Mark Andrews made the most of his opportunities, catching five balls for 52 yards and moved the chains when called on. Unfortunately, rookie Isaiah Likely struggled, failing to catch any of his four targets and was called for a holding penalty.
Wide receivers: A
The questions surrounding the Ravens wide receiver unit entering this game hung like the clouds over MetLife stadium. But three flashes of lightning from said cloud in the form of Duvernay and Bateman have quelled the concern. Jackson wasn’t scared to give his wideouts opportunities or forcing targets to his tight ends instead. The receiving unit ended the day with 132 yards of Jackson’s 213 yard outing, good for 60-percent of his total yards through the air.
Run blocking: C-
Pass blocking: B
At the end of the first half, the Ravens totaled their fewest rushing yards in the Lamar Jackson era. The holes weren’t generated and the struggles were apparent. Add in left tackle Ja’Waun James will miss the season after suffering a season-ending Achilles tear and the blocking struggles for the Ravens only grow.
As for pass protection, the Ravens looked solid, giving Jackson time to throw it around the field near and far. This was a challenging defensive front they were tasked with competing against in Week 1 and they didn’t allow the Jets to control the line of scrimmage. In all, the Ravens allowed only two sacks and pressure wasn’t overwhelming.
Pass rush: A
Run defense: C
Just about as great of a game as you could ask for from the big guys up as a pass rushing unit. Consistently, defensive end Justin Madubuike led the pass rush which took down Flacco five times (with two being called back due to flags from the cornerbacks). The big guys totaled 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss.
As for run defense, the Jets exploited some holes in the run game, rushing for 83 yards on 16 carries (5.2 ypc). But, it’s far better to have some issues in the run game than it would be to struggle getting after the quarterback.
Outside Linebackers: B
Led by veteran Justin Houston, the outside linebackers did a solid job getting after the quarterback. Many would’ve liked to see Odafe Oweh notch a sack going against the Jets backup tackles but he never quite got him.
Run defense, in a similar vein to the defensive line, struggled to contain the edge and take down the rushers. However, like the defensive line, this is a superior problem than the inverse.
Inside linebackers: A
Hello, Patrick Queen! Consistently, Queen was flying around and making plays in the backfield. The linebacker showed significant development against the Jets, making open-field tackles, hanging in tough in coverage and generating pressure on his blitzes. Had Jets running back Michael Carter hung onto the football, Queen would’ve been scored on but it didn’t happen and that’s to Queen’s benefit. Sometimes, a little luck goes a long way.
A decent job by the Ravens cornerback unit. They were bound to allow receptions when the Jets threw 59 (!) times. However, they shut down numerous third downs, as the Jets first third-down conversion happened with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter and finished 2-for-14. The big knock would be the two illegal contact penalties negating two sacks by the defensive line.
A concern moving forward will be the health of the unit. Cornerback Kyle Fuller suffered a “gruesome” knee injury according to the CBS broadcast, as they stated they shouldn’t replay what occurred. A starting cornerback going down in Week 1 quickly puts their depth a man down.
In true Ravens fashion, Marcus Williams nabbed an interception in his first game as a Raven. Later on, Chuck Clark punched out a ball that was recovered by the defense. We’ve heard from players in the secondary talk about their emphasis on generating takeaways and this was a good sign their efforts weren’t in vain.
On a day like today with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals begging to knock through game-winning opportunities, and the Jets watching Greg Zuerlein miss a 45-yard field goal and a PAT, Tucker did his job in the rain going 1-for-1 on field goals and 3-for-3 on PATs.
Rookie Jordan Stout hit three of his six punts inside the 20-yard line. Only one bounced back for a touchback, and it was a 64-yard clearance. Great work by the young one, especially when Jets punter Braden Mann had an ugly 20-yard punt in this contest.
Yes, I’m grading the snapping. No, I don’t have the finite intricacies of this job but there weren’t errors in plain view and that’s enough for an A from me.