The New York Jets need these guys to face the Baltimore Ravens
For the New York Jets to claim a season-opening win as a 6.5-point home underdog, they’ll need some unusually big games from a few players.
These three guys really need to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
OT Max Mitchell
It’s not fair that the fourth-round rookie from Louisiana should face so much pressure early in his career, but that’s how the cookie crumbled. With Mekhi Becton’s replacement, Duane Brown, expected to miss at least four games after being placed on injured reserve, it’s The Max Mitchell Show for the entirety of the Jets’ AFC North gauntlet.
The Jets don’t need Mitchell to be “good,” or even the caliber of your average league starter. But they desperately need it to be at least respectable. That’s all it would take for Mitchell to have what I would classify as a “big game” given the expectations.
An offensive line can be pulled down at its weakest link. Four guys can win their battles on any play, but if there’s one player who can’t win their replays, games can still be ruined continuously despite the majority of the series doing their job. Mitchell needs to avoid being that weak link.
Baltimore doesn’t offer a star pass rusher like the Jets’ next three opponents. What they offer is one of the more complex pressure schemes in the NFL. Mitchell’s first NFL test will challenge him more mentally than physically. He must be ready for the unique stunts and lightning packs thrown his way.
Mitchell will also be crucial in the running game. The Jets will look to establish a powerful rushing attack that can create effective play action opportunities against Baltimore’s man coverage. Considering the Jets are a wide-zone running team, and the Ravens’ strength in running lies inside their defensive line, the Jets will likely run outside fairly frequently. That puts pressure on the tackles, including Mitchell.
All eyes are on #61.
LB CJ Mosley
As captain of the Jets defense and an every-down linebacker, CJ Mosley will obviously be a key player in every Jets game. However, I think he will be particularly important in this game; for a few reasons.
Most importantly, I think Mosley’s reporting will play a massive role in the Jets’ effectiveness in stopping Baltimore’s reception weapon, tight end Mark Andrews.
Andrews deals insane amounts of damage on intersecting tracks, challenging the communication and camaraderie of the defense’s zone coverage in the center of the field. The linebackers are right in the middle of the action. Mosley needs to pick up and pass Andrews well when he goes through center defense.
Mosley will also be a key gear in the running game.
The Jets’ defensive line may have trouble preventing the Baltimore rushers from getting through the first level since the Ravens’ running pattern is a philosophical mismatch with the Jets’. This will put a lot of pressure on the linebackers and safeties to clean things up at the second level.
If the linebackers can tackle efficiently, the Jets can stay ahead of themselves and prevent Baltimore’s rushing attack from breaking up the game. But when Mosley and company struggle to tackle, the Ravens’ running game can really dominate.
Additionally, Mosley is a former Raven who played with Lamar Jackson and is familiar with Baltimore’s longstanding traditions on both sides of the ball. His experience with Baltimore is a unique advantage no other Jets defender has.
WR Braxton Berries
As the Jets try to establish their running game in this game, make sure they rely on a lot of pre-snap moves. Using moves to force pre-snap moves from defense can create natural trajectories and almost replicate the effect a full-back might have with his blocking. This is especially true against man-heavy teams like the Ravens.
Braxton Berrios will be the Jets’ primary motion man. He can influence the game without even touching the ball, just by threatening to get the stone.
But to maximize the impact of his pre-snap movement, Berrios needs to succeed when he touches the ball. If Berrios can make some big plays on end-arounds, jet sweeps, and screens, the Ravens’ defense will respond even more aggressively to Berrios’ jet movement – open up all for the New York Offensive.
I also think that Berrios’ play in special teams will be especially important in this game considering the opposition.
Led by a head coach who comes from a special teams background, the Ravens regularly field one of the best special teams units in the NFL. There’s a big chance they’ll be stealing some hidden points and yards on special teams this week. As underdogs, the Jets can’t let that happen. They must match the Ravens shot for shot on special teams and prevent them from gaining that little extra advantage.
Some big wins from Berrios would go a long way in mitigating the advantage of Baltimore’s special teams. The Ravens have a terrific returner of their own in Devin Duvernay, whose 13.8 yards per punt return last season was the only mark in the NFL better than Berrios’ 13.4 of 37 qualifiers (min. 10 returns).
However, Berrios comes out on top in the kickoff second leg. He placed 2nd out of 38 qualifiers (min. 10 returns) with 30.4 yards per kickoff return while Duvernay placed 13th with 24.1.
It would be a valuable win for New York to play Berrios in the second leg against Duvernay.