Joe Flacco seeks revenge as the New York Jets’ starting QB
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Just when the New York Jets fan thought he or she was out, they pulled you back in. Just when you, the rabid, oftentimes nonsensical Jets fan thought your team had executed a relatively injury-free summer, they knock you over the head with a two-by-four.
Sure, the Zach Wilson injury stung, especially considering its non-contact nature. And yes, the Mekhi Becton season-ender seemingly popped up out of nowhere when the pads came on. But considering Wilson avoided season-ending disaster—something all internet doctors could not help but prognosticate over as soon as humanly possible—one could not help but wonder if Gang Green’s injury luck had started to actually turn the corner.
But alas, Week 1 is here and the latest bad news arrived with it.
Becton’s replacement, veteran Duane Brown, will not only miss Sunday’s Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, but he’s likely to hit the shelf in the form of an IR designation.
Unbelievably, after Joe Douglas spend first-round picks on Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker while signing the ever-reliable Laken Tomlinson this offseason, New York enters Week 1 with tremendous uncertainty at right tackle.
Godsend George Fant moves back to left tackle while rookie Max Mitchell readies himself for his first-ever NFL start on the right side. How he’ll hold up against a solid Ravens defense is anybody’s best guess, but it’s certainly something to monitor.
If Joe Flacco is to get a taste of revenge against the only other NFL team he’s known, he’ll need the mid-round rookie to put his best foot forward on the 21st anniversary of 9/11.
Jets vs. Ravens game info
- New York Jets (0-0)
- Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
- NFL, Week 1, Sept. 11, 2022, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
- MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The earliest the Jets will get Zach Wilson back will be Week 4 in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. (Yes, that emotional roller-coaster the Jets fan is so comfortably numb while riding on has yet to fall off the tracks.)
This means that 37-year-old Joe Flacco gets the call, and he takes the ball at the most opportune time—as it relates to potential personal revenge.
When Lamar Jackson entered the league in 2018, the Ravens were still Flacco’s team. By the time the 2018 campaign concluded, the eventual 2019 NFL MVP put his imprint on the organization.
It won’t be easy for Flacco, but considering this Jets roster is much more talented than last year’s iteration, he should have a legitimate shot to do some damage.
Jets vs. Ravens history
- The Ravens lead the all-time series 9-2.
Much like many of the 31 other NFL franchises, the Baltimore Ravens hold a significant advantage over the Jets in the all-time record category.
The Jets took the first-ever meeting back in 1997, a 19-16 overtime victory that improved Bill Parcells’s squad to a critical 6-3 mark on the season. Baltimore, on the other hand, fell to 4-5, as it was still building what would ultimately turn into arguably the greatest defense in NFL history.
The Ravens then strung eight-straight victories, one of which came on Christmas Eve 2000. The memorable 34-20 Ravens win destroyed Jets fans, as the eventual Super Bowl champs knocked Al Groh’s 9-7 team from playoff contention.
Although Vinny Testaverde, Wayne Chrebet and the rest of the offense enjoyed a solid start—the former threw for 381 yards while the latter went for 97 in receiving yards—Ray Lewis and company were just too much in the end.
New York’s last victory came two contests ago. A 24-16 victory in October 2016 improved the struggling Todd Bowles-led Jets to 2-5 on the season.
The last matchup was a bloodbath, as Thursday Night Football was treated to a Lamar Jackson party in Baltimore (a 42-21 victory over Adam Gase’s Jets in December 2019).
Jets vs. Ravens odds (FanDuel Sportsbook)
- Spread: Jets +6.5 (-110), Ravens -6.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Jets +240, Ravens -295
- Over/Under: 44.5 (O: -108, U: -112)
Generally speaking, the home team in the NFL usually garners around three points in Vegas. Considering that, the 6.5 spread should feel more like a 9.5 margin.
Although the talent is vastly improved, questions at right tackle and at quarterback should hold off any wide-eyed optimist from exuberantly laying down shackles on the Jets. Sure, 6.5-point spread is no small margin, but the nature of Week 1 makes this one risky business.
Jets vs. Ravens injury report
New York Jets
- Zach Wilson (knee): Out
- Duane Brown (shoulder): Out
- Conor McDermott (ankle): Questionable
- George Fant (knee): Questionable
- D.J. Reed (knee): Questionable
- Justin Hardee (calf): Questionable
The Jets found themselves decimated once Week 1 of the 2021 season finished. On top of the season-ending injuries of Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry, the likes of Mekhi Becton and Lamarcus Joyner also joined them on the season-ending shelf. Punter Braden Mann also found himself injured for a good period of time.
While the Duane Brown injury certainly dampers spirits, head coach Robert Saleh hopes to avoid a similar post-Week 1 fate this season.
Expect George Fant, D.J. Reed and Justin Hardee to all play. Along with Becton and fullback Nick Bawden, who are both out for the season, just Zach Wilson and Duane Brown will miss this one.
- Travis Jones (knee): Out
- Marcus Peters (knee): Questionable
- J.K. Dobbins (knee): Questionable
- Ronnie Staley (ankle): Doubtful (downgraded to Out)
Baltimore is healthier entering his game, but John Harbaugh’s squad isn’t off the hook completely.
They’ll be without stud offensive lineman Ronnie Staley, which should help Jeff Ulbrich’s front line in a massive way.
Jets’ keys to victory
Use today’s rules to the offense’s advantage
Mike Macdonald returns to Baltimore after a year in the college ranks, now that Wink Martindale is with the New York Giants. He plans to keep the Ravens defense aggressive, which means Mike LaFleur needs to outfox the first-time NFL defensive coordinator early.
Strategic principles are what offense is about in today’s offensive-heavy NFL. While yes, developing a specific brand of physicality still means something, it’ll never wholly get the job done like years past—no matter what anybody says.
If Baltimore stacks the box and run blitzes early, and LaFleur comes out the way he did in 2021 (looking to establish a run-first identity), he’ll simply put Flacco and the fellas behind the eight-ball. Never has “take what the defense gives you” been more important in the NFL because a perfectly executed offense cannot be stopped by anybody—even the 1985 Chicago Bears (thanks to today’s rules).
The Jets’ offense will be dedicated by LaFleur’s willingness to play chess if the Ravens are playing hard-nosed checkers.
Flood the middle with responsible rushing lanes
Defensively, the game will come down to responsible play. Lamar Jackson, although dangerous, can be played in a particular way, and Ulbrich must get his guys to play this exact way.
The goal needs to be this: Flood the middle of the field with defenders while rushing the quarterback responsibly.
As great as Jackson can be with his dual-threat abilities, he cannot consistently make the outside-the-numbers throws, especially in the intermediate areas. This is where Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed will come into play.
Expect a ton of Cover 3 with Gardner and Reed playing a ton of bail technique. This way, Lamarcus Joyner can move a round a bit from his middle-third zone and the second-level guys can favor the middle of the field. Extra robber looks along with some inverted Cover 2 calls is what should always be sprinkled in against Jackson.
At the same time, the four-man rush must do its job responsibly. Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers have to think about contain while getting after the quarterback. Keeping that outside shoulder free in specific situations where Jackson’s legs are more dangerous will be of the utmost priority.
Jets vs. Ravens prediction
- Baltimore Ravens 27, New York Jets 23
I do not believe this game will be a washout in any direction. I also think the increased talent on this Jets roster will surprise a lot of people early in the season, starting in this game.
Expect rookie Sauce Gardner to immediately put his imprint on the game—which means his name will not be mentioned much on the broadcast (since Lamar Jackson will not test him much). Also, expect Joe Flacco to put a solid foot forward—nothing special yet nothing that will hurt his team too tremendously.
What this one will come down to is Robert Saleh’s defense (and overall schemed principles) against Lamar Jackson’s playmaking ability, especially in the fourth quarter. The Jets will need special players to make special plays in order to limit the former MVP on the ground.
In the end, I’ll take the Ravens knocking off the Jets 27-23, which means the home team wins on the betting slips with +6.5.