Sunday is the start of the 2023 season, and the start of a tough stretch of games for the Jets as they take on the AFC North through their first four games. Getting off to a good start is crucial for the team and the fanbase, and here’s some crucial things the Jets must do if they’re going to come away from the home opener at Metlife with a win.
It’s been an interesting week in Jets fandom. If you’ve managed to get through this week without having some sort of meltdown over the Jets handling of the comms over Zach Wilson’s health you are in a minority amongst Jets fans. Podcasts, Youtube videos, and articles have all bemoaned their disappointment at the possibility of Zach playing football this Sunday, before it was cruelly snatched away as we were informed that he’d likely not be back until week 3-4. It has officially reached the point where it has been too long since we had any real football to talk about, and people are getting worked up into a frenzy over very little.
Thankfully, that is about to end, and to make sure we all have a happy Monday following Sunday’s game against the Ravens, here are a few quick hit ‘Keys-To-The-Game’ that should ensure the Jets pull off a surprise win in week one.
Covering Tight Ends
Mark Andrews versus the middle of Jets’ defence is probably the most crucial matchup on that side of the ball. The Jets couldn’t handle the middle of the field at all last year, and probably only comes a close second to screen-passes in the category of ‘Easiest Ways to gain yards against the Jets’. Quick passes in the middle against man defence was the order of the day for every DC in their weekly game plan for the Jets, and if Mark Andrews is allowed that kind of freedom over the middle the Jets are going to get punished for it.
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Mark Andrews is a genuine threat that the Jets need to neutralise to get the win on Sunday – Image courtesy of USA Today
Isaiah Likely is a rookie but he is a pass catching threat the Jets should take seriously. The TEs are the real receiving threat on the Raven’s offence and it’ll be interesting to see how the Jets choose to mix their coverages to neutralise the TEs on the Ravens.
The Ravens entire run game is going to revolve around Lamar getting out of the pocket both on designed runs and on broken plays. The rest of the backfield shouldn’t scare anyone: JK Dobbins likely won’t play, and the Jets should be able to handle Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake. We saw on Thursday night the damage a mobile QB can do with their legs, and Lamar does it better than anyone in the league.
The Jets will be helped by the absence of Ronnie Stanley at Left Tackle which gives Ja’Wuan James the task of dealing with Carl Lawson. A rejuvenated edge room with a heap of talent should be able to win the battle against this offensive line and force the Ravens to play their game and make Jackson beat them with his arm.
Get The Ball Out
The Raven’s defensive line will bring it on Sunday. To keep from being mauled, Flacco is going to need to get the ball out in a three step drop. The receivers and tight ends need to win their match ups and get open early so Flacco doesn’t need to hold onto the ball. The Raven’s arguably have one of the best safety depth charts in the NFL, so deep passes should be few and far between anyway. The Corners for the Ravens are a weakness Flacco should be able to exploit with a receiver like Elijah Moore who is able to get open early and often.
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Max Mitchell will see early action against the Ravens on Sunday – Image courtesy of USA Today
With Duane Brown potentially missing this game with an as yet unspecified shoulder injury the Jets will be starting George Fant at left tackle, and rookie Max Mitchell will see early action at right tackle. Fans should be fine seeing Fant at left tackle; there were plenty clamouring for it earlier in the off-season and Fant performed well there last year, but Max Mitchell will likely have a rough time of it, and the Ravens will look to exploit this potential weakness giving even more emphasis to the need to get the ball out.
The Jets are a long-shot according the latest points on offer to those who like a bet. The odds at the moment are quite generous to a road team, which tells you something about how the Jets are viewed in the league. The only way to change that is to win some games. Here’s hoping that starts on Sunday and we’ve got something better to talk about next week.