Since joining the Jets last season as a fourth-round pick, RB Michael Carter has rarely been at a loss for words. His infectious smile and big, positive attitude lite up MetLife Stadium's locker room, and after a 24-9 loss to Baltimore in the season opener on Sunday.
Carter led the Green & White offense with 10 carries for 60 yards. He was one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets reeling in a team-high 7 catches for 40 yards. It was his second career game with at least 60 yards on the ground and 40 receivng.
"We are finding our identity," Carter said. "We are teaching each other, and we are balling at the same time. We made some good plays today."
Carter accounted for the Jets second- and third-longest plays of the game. On the Jets' first offensive snap, Carter took a handoff, got to the edge ad jetted up the left sideline for 19 yards.
Later, with 3:14 remaining in the first half, Carter took a handoff on the Jets' 30, made a hard cut into the hole, paused and then took off down the middle of the field for 22 yards, his biggest gain of the day. The scamper eventually set up the Jets' first score, a 45-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal with 28 seconds remaining in the first half.
"I think that a lot of runs they blocked for five, so we went and got 10," Carter said. "I think that is what happened today. And I really feel confident in our line, more than I ever have in maybe any line."
Carter shared the load with rookie Breece Hall who had 6 rushes for 23 yards and caught 6 passes for 38 yards. In the fourth quarter, Hall was stripped of the ball by Chuck Clark. Carter consoled Hall on the sideline and postgame, with a big smile, and noted the team is still in the "learning stages."
"There are parts of the game that are really important, more important than other parts," Carter said. "So just homing in on those things like third down and when we are in the scoring zone, when we cross midfield, strike zone and the red zone."
Both backs ran behind an O-Line that had been shuffled days before kickoff. Head coach Robert Saleh announced on Friday that Pro Bowl LT Duane Brown (now on the Injured List) would be out with a shoulder injury and as a result, George Fant moved to LT and rookie Max Mitchell started at RT.
Mitchell took snaps against a veteran-laced Ravens front including against four-time Pro Bowl OLB Justin Houston, and Carter thought he held up well.
"I think that Max Mitchell did a good job today," Carter said. "Being matched up with a perennial Pro Bowler and he did a good job. Justin Houston will be in a Hall of Fame and a lot of credit to him, he lays his life on the line every week. I thought Max did a good job against him and other guys."
Carter is keen on self-reflection and learning from mistakes. The team lost Sunday, but Carter believes are a step away from stringing together wins, starting next weekend at Cleveland.
"We have got some great leadership on this team and despite what anybody says we have leaders, and we have talent, and we just need to tweak our mindset just a little bit," Carter said. "We are on the right track, we just lost today."