What We Saw: Week 1

The QB List team recaps everything you missed while you were glued to the couch watching Red Zone

Ravens @ Jets

Final Score: Ravens 24, Jets 9

Writer: Jason Wolf (@J_Wolf_picks on Twitter)

 

The “Joe Flacco revenge game” turned out to be anything but, as the Ravens stifled the Jets’ offensive unit, limiting them to 2/14 on 3rd downs on their way to a comfortable road win to open up their 2022 season. The Ravens’ defense was on point the entire game, constantly getting into the Jets’ backfield and generally wreaking havoc on the Jets’ O-line. Baltimore’s offense sputtered throughout the first half before shaking off the rust and coming alive after halftime. Lamar Jackson put on a vintage MVP passing performance, Jets rookies flashed and made mistakes, and the Elite Dragon Joe Flacco was let loose like it was 2012 all over again.

 

Baltimore Ravens

 

Quarterback

 

Lamar Jackson:  17/30, 213 Yards, 3 TD, INT | 6 Carries, 17 Yards

 

Lamar Jackson appeared to play a relatively conservative game, both on the ground and through the air. We didn’t see any trademark flashy Lamar runs, jukes, or spins. Instead, we were treated to a methodical (if not unexciting) mostly short-intermediate passing game with only a handful of deep shots mixed in. Lamar’s stats from yesterday don’t exactly pop out from the box score, but he threw the ball exceptionally well. His throws looked crisp and on consistently on time. The three touchdowns are nice, but the best part of Lamar’s game was his composure, control over the offense, and his accuracy. 17/30 doesn’t scream accurate, but the reality is that Lamar’s receivers dropped several easily catchable balls, making his final totals look less impressive than his game actually was. Lamar was absolutely on point with his deep shots, connecting on a 55-yard TD bomb to Rashod Bateman, his 3rd deep passing TD (20+ air yards) of the day.

 

 

Lamar looked as good as ever through the air, with his passing reminiscent of his historic MVP campaign. When it came to his rushing in this game, however, there was not much to speak of. Lamar only had 17 yards, only ditching the pocket to escape the pressure or to get just a couple of necessary yards here and there. Lamar clearly picked his spots carefully.  The potential hesitancy to pick up the tough yards on the ground may be the only identifiable effect that the unsuccessful contract negations will have on Lamar’s play this season. Jackson was not only conservative with using his legs, but outside of a few deep shots, he played it pretty conservatively through the air as well. This probably has a bit to do with the fact that they opened the season against the Jets and opening up the playbook and revealing more offensive looks offers no strategic advantage moving forward. Lamar’s performance wasn’t a stat-stuffing performance that we’ve grown accustomed to expecting, but fans of the Ravens and fantasy owners everywhere should be highly encouraged by the way he played today. Granted, it was against the Jets.

 

Running Back

 

Kenyan Drake:  11 Carries, 31 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 15 Yards

Mike Davis:  2 Carries, 11 Yards,  Fumble (Recovered)

Justice Hill:  2 Carries, 4 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 7 Yards

 

The Ravens’ top two RB options, JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards were both inactive for Week 1, leaving the rushing workload to be split between Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis. The Ravens stubbornly stuck with the run game throughout the vast majority of the first half even though it wasn’t very effective. This allowed plenty of opportunities for Drake to show what he can do with the bulk of the carries, and he responded by turning in a pedestrian stat-line of 11 carries and 31 yards. As average (or below it) as that sounds, he almost looked even less impressive with the ball in his hands.

Kenyan Drake was not on the Ravens’ roster two weeks ago, yet he saw a surprising 63% of all RB opportunities go his way against the Jets, clearly suggesting he will be the “featured” RB while Dobbins and Edwards continue to be out. Drake has some juice and nice physical tools with the ball in his hands, but that somehow doesn’t really translate to much on-field production. For a guy who is known for his speed, he seemed awfully hesitant to take the ball outside. On an early 3rd & 2 in the 1st quarter, Drake received the ball on a quick pitch to the right, and had he waited for half a second and taken the ball outside, he would have been free for a first down and more. Yet he impatiently turned the ball inside and was immediately tackled for no gain. It is very early in his Ravens tenure, so it’s entirely likely that he is just getting acclimated to the playbook, but historically, Drake doesn’t seem to have the vision and strength to truly capitalize on the opportunities he will see over the next few weeks while Dobbins + Edwards round into game shape.

Certified plodder Mike Davis was out-touched by Drake to the tune of 12-2, and can most likely be written off as a potential fantasy “asset.” Davis actually did have one nice power run, but he fumbled at the end of it, with the Ravens luckily recovering. He may see the field more than we’d like due to his blocking ability, which could lead to the occasional poached TD, but he is nowhere near a difference maker with the ball in his hands. Justice Hill would have likely been cut this offseason had it not been for the injuries to Dobbins and Edwards. Once a promising young back for the Ravens, Hill is in his 4th year and has never really flashed with the ball in his hands. Hill will be a complete afterthought once the Ravens RB1 + RB2 suit up and will then only be a break in case of emergency, last resort RB.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Mark Andrews:  7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 52 Yards

Rashod Bateman:  5 Targets, 2 Receptions, 59 Yards,  TD

Devin Duvernay:  4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 54 Yards, 2 TD

Demarcus Robinson:  4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 19 Yards

Isaiah Likely:  4 Targets, 0 Receptions, 0 Yards

 

Mark Andrews‘ usage was somewhat disappointing, as heading into halftime, Andrews was tied in targets (3) with Rashod Bateman and rookie TE Isaiah Likely. Though the seven total targets is somewhat underwhelming, the quality of targets that Lamar is giving Andrews is still excellent. Andrews finished Week 1 with the third highest TAY% (share of team’s targeted air yards) and the highest aDOT (average depth of target) among all TE’s. Despite the lack of a gaudy stat-line, the Lamar to Andrews connection looks as solid as ever, as Lamar looks incredibly comfortable throwing it to Andrews whether he’s downfield or tightly covered. Lamar did not have to do too much today throwing the ball, so Andrews and his incredible big play ability took a backseat to a more conservative approach with the ball as the Ravens focused on keeping the clock moving and their defense off the field. Andrews did have one particularly nice grab though on a big 3rd & eight in the 4th quarter when he made a leaping catch over the corner who had solid coverage. This throw and catch was the best example of the trust and connection that Lamar and Andrews have, as if anyone needed a reminder of what the all-pro duo can do.

Rashod Bateman didn’t quite soak up the target share that we would have expected, but there were encouraging things about his game in Week 1. The chemistry between Lamar and Bateman appears to be there, as Lamar often looked his way when the pocket collapsed or the play broke down; a sure sign that Bateman is who Lamar is looking for when he needs a play to be made. Bateman’s usage was promising, as he saw targets all over the field, ranging from short crossers to the 55-yard TD that he caught on a simple vertical.

Devin Duvernay flashed some (a lot) of his potential as a receiver, hauling in all four of his targets for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Lamar laced an absolute dime to Duvernay for his first touchdown grab of the day, and Duvernay might have topped the throw with the excellent catch in while being blanketed by the defense. Duvernay had to jump and adjust his body mid-air to haul in the touchdown, but Lamar trusted him to go and get it.

 

 

Lamar has clear chemistry with Duvernay, and this offense desperately needs a reliable second option at receiver behind Bateman. With RB troubles already picking up where they left off from last year, the Ravens might go more of a heavy passing offense this year, which bodes well for more Duvernay highlights. Demarcus Robinson was brought in this offseason with the hopes that he might help the offense replace some of the big play ability that left when Marquise Brown was traded to the Cardinals. Demarcus brought back Torrey Smith vibes to the Ravens when he drew a 40+ yard defensive PI call against the Jets, bringing a much-needed element to the Ravens offense.

Isaiah Likely‘s standout performances in the preseason garnered him some hype going into the season as a potential weapon for Lamar Jackson but his regular season debut was a mixed bag as he failed to bring in any of his 4 targets. It seems probable that Likely had some rookie jitters, as he had a frustrating drop on a completely catchable ball on an early 3rd & 8 with space to spare in front of him. He actually flashed his elite potential on the very same play when he juked CB Michael Carter II out of his shoes to create a bunch of space. Though he failed to secure a reception, his usage was encouraging. Likely was targeted three times in the first half, exactly as many as TE Mark Andrews and WR1 Rashod Bateman. The Ravens realize they have an immense talent in Likely, and it seems as if they are going to draw up multiple plays for him every week, which should only help him get up to speed in the NFL and improve his chemistry with QB Lamar Jackson.

 

New York Jets

 

Quarterback

 

Joe Flacco:  37/59, 307 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT | 1 Carry, 0 Yards

 

Taking the place of injured starting quarterback Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco got the nod for the Jets against his former team. It was a bad week for QBs facing their old teams as Flacco (as well as the Panthers’ Baker Mayfield)  was under siege all day behind the Jets’ hastily put together offensive line. The Jets’ O-line did not do any favors for their QB, allowing three sacks and constant pressure in the pocket, with Justin Houston alone pressuring Flacco 6 times. The pressure that Flacco consistently faced forced him to repeatedly go for the short passing game, averaging a paltry 5.2 YPA. OC Mike Lafleur must have thought he had January 2012 Flacco, as he dialed up 60 (!!!) pass plays for Flacco. Honestly, letting Flacco throw that many times when he was under duress all game from the Ravens’ pass rush should be considered elder abuse.

 

 

Unfortunately, Flacco looks certifiably washed. He pretty much refuses to throw deep which should really come as a surprise to no one, as Flacco has been dinking and dunking on 3rd & long since 2017.  When he did throw it deep, it was not pretty, resulting in an INT and several incompletions. After Flacco’s interception, he seemed hesitant to even attempt to stretch the field when the Jets’ offense needed it most. Flacco’s lack of mobility is a nightmare fit for the current state of the Jets’ offensive line after long-term injuries to starting linemen Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown. There were multiple broken plays for the Jets where Flacco threw an incomplete or threw the ball away due to him being a statue in the pocket. To be fair, Flacco did have a few nice throws throughout the day, however, they only came when he had a perfectly clean pocket. As this game against the Ravens demonstrated, it won’t be too often where he will be afforded that luxury. Zach Wilson might not be progressing as fast as the Jets had hoped, but Wilson could have made something out of nothing on several of these broken plays. The Jets’ offensive skill players have a much more promising setup when Wilson returns due to his ability to escape the pocket, which will come in handy behind this line.

 

Running Back

 

Michael Carter:  10 Carries, 60 Yards | 9 Targets, 7 Receptions, 40 Yards

Breece Hall:  6 Carries, 23 Yards | 10 Targets, 6 Receptions, 38 Yards | 1 Fumble (Lost)

 

Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFluer called Michael Carter “the heartbeat” of the Jets’ offense earlier in the week, and it turns out that this is one of those rare occasions where the hype talk was not simply coach-speak. The Jets went to Carter early and often against the Ravens, manufacturing nearly 20 offensive touches for the second-year RB, and he rewarded them every time he touched the ball, averaging 6 YPC on the day. Carter was easily the best player on the field for the Jets. He was quick, decisive, and hard to bring down every time he touched the ball, especially in the first half before the game got out of control. On a particularly impressive 2nd & 6 reception, he was initially wrapped up two yards shy of the first down but fought off Ravens S Chuck Clark’s tackle, and pummeled forward on the tough second effort to get the first down.

Carter made seemingly impressive run after impressive run in the first half. He only slowed down when the Jets started losing ground in the game and for some reason decided to let Joe Flacco do his best Tom Brady impression, chucking the ball everywhere and killing the momentum that the run game temporarily had. Carter was a beast with the ball coming out of the backfield, and he was crafty as a receiver, repeatedly making guys miss in the open field. Carter did make one poor mistake on a 4th & goal when he was targeted on a wide open pass for an easy touchdown but dropped it because he turned his head and started running upfield a split second before he caught the ball, causing it to doink off his hands in what was a sour note on an otherwise awesome performance.

 

 

Breece Hall was hot and cold in his NFL debut, as he didn’t do much on the ground outside of one run, but he did have a couple of flashes with the ball in his hands. Hall had an impressive 15-yard carry on a 1st & 10 where he shrugged off a couple of attempted arm tackles and showed impressive burst to get the first down and more.

 

 

Outside of that carry though, he had just 8 yards on 5 carries. His usage in the passing game was as promised though, with Breece soaking up 10 targets, mostly dump offs and emergency check downs from a hurried Flacco. Hall also had a bad mistake when he fumbled at a crucial juncture in the game in Baltimore territory; an unfortunate mistake after making a nice move to evade a tackle on the reception. My main takeaway from Hall’s usage in this game is that he is  a top tier safety blanket for whoever the Jets starting QB is because it is going to be a long season on the offensive line.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Corey Davis:  9 Targets, 6 Receptions, 77 Yards

Garrett Wilson:  8 Targets, 4 Receptions, 52 Yards, Fumble (Recovered)

Elijah Moore:  7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 49 Yards

Braxton Berrios:  6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 37 Yards

Tyler Conklin:  7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 14 Yards, TD

CJ Uzomah:  1 target, 0 Receptions.

 

Corey Davis was again the quiet #1 for the Jets, racking up 6 receptions on 9 targets (only behind Breece Hall’s 10 for team lead). Davis moves everywhere over the field, and is often the first look for Flacco on passing plays that go over 5 yards. Davis is consistent and reliable, catching pretty much everything he can reasonably be expected to catch. He even made some catches most receivers wouldn’t such as when he used his 6’3 frame to high point an overthrown pass from Flacco over the middle of the field in traffic, taking a big hit on the way down. Davis looks like the go to guy on the team when they need a big play or a crucial 3rd down conversion, converting on numerous important catches in the middle of the field in traffic.

There were question marks over how much usage Garrett Wilson would see given the solid depth in the Jets’ receiving group, but he saw a healthy amount of targets with 8, only one less than leading receiver Corey Davis. The volume might not be there every game, with Flacco throwing 60 times and all, but Wilson’s usage, when compared to the other receivers on the team, was highly encouraging for the rookie. Wilson flashed his potential quite nicely in his debut, making some tough catches over the middle as well as a high effort and skill play to get a completely unexpected first down. Flacco threw a lame duck from Flacco on 3rd & 10 two yards past the line of scrimmage and did an incredible job to make something out of nothing, making 3 guys miss en route to picking up the tough first down. Wilson flashed excellent stop-and-start ability to shake the first two defenders and picked up the first down by putting his head down and going into the defender. Wilson joined Breece Hall in the rookie fumbling camp, but he was fortunate enough to have his fumble recovered. Wilson’s talent definitely shone through even though he didn’t have the most effective day, catching just four of eight targets on the day. It should be noted, however, that the degree of difficulty on Wilson’s targets was much higher on average than the other Jets receivers.

Elijah Moore didn’t pop on the screen or the scoreboard, but his skill is obvious to anyone paying attention to him playing. He consistently gets separation from the defense and is a good bet to haul in any catchable balls in his radius. It’s a crowded receiver room so there were times throughout the game where you might forget Moore was playing, but this is most likely due to the average ball that Flacco is throwing isn’t going past 5 yards. Moore’s technical skills as a receiver are by far the most polished on the team, and this makes his role on the team rock solid. Braxton Berrios made a nice grab at the end of the 3rd quarter as he had to extend and lay himself out on the ground to make the tough catch on a slightly overthrown ball from Flacco. Berrios saw 6 targets and figures to be a part of the offense in some capacity with Flacco or Wilson. Flacco was not able to capitalize on Berrios’ elite breakaway speed, but that is definitely something that the Jets will scheme for every game as they look to get the ball in his hands in space.

Tyler Conklin was a solid off-season acquisition for the Jets, and he showed off his pass-catching chops in this game when he caught a garbage-time Redzone TD with 1 minute left in the game. It was a nice grab though, with Conklin having mere inches of space between the defender and himself as he caught the TD while falling down. He attracted 7 targets which is encouraging, yet surely a result of Flacco somehow throwing 60 passes in this one. 7 targets seems like the upper limit on his target share in this crowded offense, but the targets are mostly safe, coming from little outs and stick routes. Conklin was a short-range security blanket for Flacco. CJ Uzomah appears to be set to be mostly used as a blocker, which makes perfect sense given his much bigger frame and superior blocking ability compared to Conklin.

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