The Baltimore Ravens started off the season 1-0, securing a wire-to-wire victory over the New York Jets by 15 points in Week 1. A slow offensive start gave way to a 14-point second half, while the defense stifled the Jets offense along the way.
Let’s run through all of the good, bad, and ugly developments from yesterday’s action.
Third down defense
The Jets ran 14 plays on third down in this game. They only converted twice, which is good for a success rate of just 14%. That’s a recipe for defensive success almost always. Mike Macdonald’s defense was stingy and even when they gave up some first down gains early in possessions, they almost always ended up getting off the field.
Baltimore’s pass rush was a problem for the undermanned Jets’ offensive line all afternoon long. The Ravens only finished with three total sacks, but that number easily could have been higher. They hit Joe Flacco 11 times. Patrick Queen, Justin Houston and Calais Campbell each had multiple QB hits. Flacco was under duress for much of this game and that resulted in some errant throws, throwaways and passes into the ground.
Lamar Jackson tossed three touchdown passes of 17, 25 and 55 yards, respectively, to Devin Duvernay (twice) and Rashod Bateman. The Ravens would love to see that type of big-play success continue moving forward. They needed it in this game, too, as they weren’t finding a ton of success moving the ball at the intermediate level. It took until Week 5 of the 2021 season for Jackson to have a 3+ passing touchdown performance, for perspective, so he’s already on a good pace in that department.
One of the biggest areas the Ravens regressed in last season was turnover differential, where they had a negative mark that ranked in the bottom half of the league. Correcting this was a huge point of emphasis this offseason. It’s a big reason why they added a player like Marcus Williams, who intercepted Flacco in the first quarter. Then, veteran safety Chuck Clark had a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter. The Ravens won the turnover margin by a 2-1 mark, but it could have been greater. Jackson’s interception in the final frame of play was sort of a “whatever” type of a deep shot when the stakes were low.
Illegal contact penalties
The Ravens were penalized five times total in this game for 29 yards. That isn’t awful, especially compared to the 81 penalty yards committed by the Jets. However, two illegal contact penalties on Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens were frustrating. They both occurred on third downs and turned a would-be punt into a fresh set of downs for the Jets.
Defending pass-catching running backs
Defensively, the Ravens have been susceptible to running backs who can do damage as a receiver out of the backfield in the past. They’ve struggled at times, including last year, against screen passes and quick swing passes to running backs in space. In this game, Michael Carter caught seven passes for 40 yards and Breece Hall caught six passes for 38 yards. Together, that’s 13 receptions for 78 yards.
A lot of this yardage was via dump-off throws from Flacco and didn’t really burn the Ravens much. Still, the Ravens will face a lot of capable receiving backs on the schedule, and giving up 13 receptions alone to the position isn’t ideal.
With J.K. Dobbins being a late-scratch before the game, the Ravens’ backfield was headed by Kenyan Drake, Mike Davis and Justice Hill. None of these could get much of anything going behind an offensive line that struggled to open up rushing lanes against the Jets’ defensive front.
Drake saw a team-high 11 carries but rushed for only 31 yards, a lot of which came late in the game. He seemed to run somewhat indecisive on some carries Davis only attempted two rushes and lost a fumble on one of them, which fortunately was recovered by the Ravens. Hill rushed twice for four yards. Jackson’s mix of a few scrambles to evade a sack and designed runs equated to 17 yards on six “attempts.”
The Ravens will want to do better than 63 total rushing yards and a team average of 3.0 yards per carry moving forward.