Top Takeaways From Ravens Week 1 Win Over Jets

Ravens DT Justin Madubuike

Getty Ravens DT Justin Madubuike celebrates making a play in regular season opener on September 11, 2022.

The Baltimore Ravens opened the 2022 regular season with a 24-9 victory over the New York Jets in the first of their four-game gauntlet against the AFC East. They were in control for most of the game, made the plays that needed to be made at key moments, and had several standout performances by individual players and entire position groups.

Dominant Defense Led The Way

The Ravens were carried and led to victory by an impressively suffocating defensive effort by first-year play-caller Mike Macdonald’s remodeled unit. They relentlessly pressured former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco from start to finish, tackled well in the open field for the most part, and forced multiple turnovers, all of which were areas where they struggled to consistently execute in 2021.

The interior of the defensive line was the most dominant position group on either side of the ball in this game and spearheaded the pass rush. Michael Pierce forced a fumble and generated the most pressure from the nose tackle spot that the Ravens’ have seen since Haloti Ngata’s heyday, proving that his improved pass-rushing prowess is real and not a fluke. Third-year defensive tackle Justin Madubuike was even more disruptive and had a monster game with five total tackles including one for a loss, another right at the line of scrimmage, and half a sack.

Another member of the Ravens’ 2020 NFL Draft Class that had a masterful game was inside linebacker Patrick Queen who had arguably the best and most complete performance of his young career. He finished with eight total tackles and teamed up with Madubuike to take down Flacco for a sack. Queen looked like the every-down linebacker that the team envisioned when they took him in the first round with his improved coverage skills and open-field tackling.

Other Ravens that had standout performances were safeties Marcus and Chuck Clark, future Hall of Fame veterans Justin Houston and Calais Campbell, and starting cornerback Marlon Humprey. Williams was the team’s prized free-agent acquisition and had a phenomenal debut by leading the team in total tackles with a game-high 12 and recorded his first interception as a Raven.

Humphrey was lights out in coverage and recovered a fumble Clark forced. Campbell and Houston showed they can still bring plenty of juice to the pass rush with a sack a piece and multiple pressures.

Offense Rebounds From Slow Start

While the defense executed at a high level throughout, that wasn’t the case for the offense. They eventually recovered from a sluggish start but the running game didn’t find any traction until late in the second half and only finished with 63 yards for a measly three yards per carry.

In the first half, it looked as rusty as a unit that sat out the entire preseason usually does but their defense and special teams gave them enough chances at advantageous field position that they didn’t need to go on long drives to score points. Even though they lost the time of possession battle (32:30 to 27:30), explosive plays and key conversions extended drives and eventually led to touchdowns.

Wide Receivers Step Up

A big reason that the offense was able to put up points and score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals was the play of the position group that was much-maligned by the media pundits and fans alike. All three of their touchdowns came on passes to their wideouts, including two to third-year pro Devin Duvernay, both of which came on third down.

The third came on a 55-yard strike to second-year pro Rashod Bateman who had one catch on his first four targets but hauled in his second career touchdown and first from Lamar Jackson on his fifth and final.

Seven-year veteran Demarcus Robinson had a solid outing with two receptions for 19 yards including an 11-yard reception for a first down against Sauce Gardner in coverage and had a key pass interference that he drew deep down the field that set up the team’s first touchdown drive of the game.

Lamar Jackson Surgical From Pocket

The Jets consistently loaded the box and crowded the line of scrimmage in a successful effort to slow down the Ravens’ running game. They dared the former league MVP to beat them with his arm and he did so by carving them up from the pocket on the vast majority of his dropbacks. Jackson masterfully navigated and stepped up in the pocket and consistently delivered the ball with great touch and accuracy.

He scrambled to extend passing plays and kept his eyes downfield as he consistently hooked up with his wide receivers and most trusted target in All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews. Jackson finished 17-of-30 for 213 passing yards and three touchdowns to just one interception that came late with the game well in hand.

Kenyan Drake High On Depth Chart

After J.K. Dobbins was ruled out after being a game-time decision, it was assumed that veteran journeyman Mike Davis would start the game at running back for the Ravens but that distinction went to their newest dynamic addition to their backfield. Drake led the position group in snaps, touches, and scrimmage yards. He finished as the team’s leading rusher with 31 yards on 11 carries and showed off his ability as a pass catcher with a 15-yard gain on a halfback screen. Even when Dobbins returns to action, expect Drake to have a consistent role in the offense moving forward if Week 1 was any indication of what is to come.

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