Well, here we go.
The New York Jets kick off their season this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife.
Joe Flacco, to the surprise of few and the passive disappointment of many, will be taking the lead as the starter quarterback to open week 1. Zach Wilson was always considered on the fence to make his debut in the first game. Now, the reports are saying that the earliest he can play is week four against the Steelers. Flacco, 37, appeared in two games last season – he completed 27 of 42 passes at 64.3% for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns with no picks.
His role is simple: manage the game until Zach comes back. The issue with the Ravens is their run dependency, quarterback or otherwise. If they fall behind, it’s hard to climb out, especially with a receiving core led by Rashad Bateman. This means that we can expect the Jets to take a lot of their bigger, riskier shots downfield early on to try and take a one-touchdown lead early. This can allow them to transition into a run-attack later on, switching schemes with Michael Carter and Breece and putting this new and improved offensive line to the test.
Speaking of the offensive line, rookie Max Mitchell will be taking the start at right tackle following an injury to Duane Brown. Brown could potentially head to IR just about a month after being signed to the team. Mitchell is a fourth-round pick out of Louisiana that the coaching staff has been very excited about.
“Max is much further along than we thought he’d be. We’re very confident he’ll be able to step in and do his job.”, said head coach Robert Saleh during today’s press conference. “Really excited about where he’s at and really about where he’s gonna go.”
This game follows word that the Baltimore Ravens and their star quarterback Lamar Jackson failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension by Jackson’s Friday deadline today. It’s not clear how this potential distraction might have an effect on the field, but a potential lack of concentration on the end of Lamar could be something to look out for. Or maybe it’s the opposite and he uses the lack of money as a motivation to get an even bigger bag by season’s end.
This matchup will also be a defensive battle between two of the most elite defensive prospects coming out of the 2022 draft: Jets corner Sauce Gardner, and Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton. Gardner showed very clearly that he’ll be predominantly used as a man corner, as was his strength in Cincinnati. Hamilton was used in a variety of ways in the preseason – man, zone, nickel, box, etc. It will be interesting to see if the absence of Zach Wilson’s mobility plays a big role in how Hamilton is used schematically.
The Jets hope to start strong as home dogs and show that the season isn’t over due to injury. Flacco will look to keep the car on the road until Zach comes back to go zero to sixty.
Jets Ravens kickoff is this Sunday at 1 pm E.T. on ABC.