In the hopes to contain the Ravens' No. 8, the Jets need 11. Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowler and NFL MVP in 2019 who owns a 37-12 regular season mark as the team's starting QB, promises to make the Jets' strain Sunday when both clubs clash in Week 1 MetLife Stadium.
"What I think is it all comes back to is effort," said Jets DL John Franklin-Myers. "And that is one of the big things with Coach (Saleh): effort, technique and violence. And it is all effort. A lot of that stuff is getting back to the ball. He might break one tackle, but he can't break 10. This is how everyone thinks about this stuff, it is a numbers game at the end of the day."
Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said the Ravens' packages will require his unit to play rules football, drawing parallels to lining up against the triple-option and veer attacks you see on the college and high school levels.
"It's a tremendous challenge, it's just one of the most unique offenses, and obviously Lamar is one of the most unique players in this league," Ulbrich said. "It's a headache, but I really believe our guys our up for it and I'm excited about the challenge although it is a tremendous one."
See the top photos from Thursday's practice leading up to the 2022 season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
Jets DE Carl Lawson said it succinctly Thursday — "When the quarterback is the best athlete on the field, that's a rarity." Jackson is an expert in the numbers game, ranking seventh all-time in rush yards (3,673) among NFL QBs. He has 16 games with 2-plus passing TDs & 50+rush yards and last season became the fastest QB in NFL history to reach 3,000 rush yards (48 games). Jackson is lethal in space and the Ravens fell apart down the stretch last season without him in the lineup. And after trading away Marquise Brown, the Ravens will be prepared for TE Mark Andrews (107-1,361-9TDs) to see consistent bracket coverage. Running back J.K. Dobbins could return Sunday and Rashod Bateman is an intriguing target, but the B-More wheel revolves around Jackson.
"Naturally, you create extra gaps with pullers already, and then technically you never count the quarterback in the run field," Franklin-Myers said of the Ravens and Jackson. "Now that he is in, that is an extra person you have to worry about. I mean at the end of the day, it is football, and the wildcat is kind of the same thing. You look at it as wildcat, but he can throw the ball as far as you need him to throw the ball. At the end of the day, as far as quarterback run, you see Josh Allen do the same thing, the only difference is they don't do it as much."
Can the Jets get the Ravens into third-and-4 or longer situations? The Jets' strength this season should be their pass rush with the return of Carl Lawson and the additions of Jacob Martin and Jermaine Johnson, but they need to be successful early to start throwing more exotic looks at Jackson.
"They live in that third-and-short window because they're so efficient on first and second downs," Ulbrich said. "To keep them out of short yardage, we have to win first down. It goes back to the run defense, it has to be exceptional this game. If you do that, you give yourself an opportunity to play against a little bit more normal football on second down. And when you do that, hopefully you can get them into the third-and-longer windows where it gives us the ability to be a little bit more creative."
The important numbers on the field might be 11 vs. 8, but Franklin-Myers insists the Jets can have a 12th man with a raucous MetLife Stadium crowd expected.
"The crowd is huge because they might go into silent count and then we kind of understand after watching film how the silent goes and what not, he said. "And the silent count is big because they have to look at the ball, then it is even. They might know the count when it is quiet, but when there is not snap count everybody is looking at the ball."