Two Areas That Will Dictate Jets’ Path This Season

Ah, it’s opening week, and the fate strcuk the Jets again. There’s plenty of questions and some unsettling thoughts.


The Jets will host the Baltimore Ravens Sunday at MetLife with two of their questionable aspects under siege. They are seven-point underdogs and that line could rise by kickoff.


If the Jets are to hang with the Ravens until the end, it will come down to the play of their offensive line and their secondary. Like most games over the last few years, it usually has.


Yet, the Jets did their part to improve both in the offseason. GM Joe Douglas was anxious to unveil his restocked areas for the opening kickoff.


Up front, they added veteran guard Laken Tomlinson and lately brought aboard veteran All-Pro tackle Duane Brown. Even at age 37, Brown was handed the left tackle spot and George Fant was shifted across to the other side.


Both moves appeared to solidify the line with Connor McGovern and Alijah Vera-Tucker already in place.


But these are still the Jets.


Just when it looked like the Jets had a healthy line for their opener, Brown came down with a shoulder injury and is out, and McGovern and Fant have been listed as questionable. It is likely that fourth-round pick Max Mitchell will get a start, and vet utility lineman Dan Feeney can also step into the mix.


Should two linemen be scratched, that’s not good news for 37-year-old starter Joe Flacco, who isn’t mobile. He needs to stay upright for three more weeks until Zach Wilson can return. Baltimore’s front line and linebacker unit has plenty of tread worn down over the years, but they are effective. 


If Flacco does have time, he has a healthy receiving core headed by vet Corey Davis, upstart second-year player Eljah Moore and rising rooke Garrett Wilson. It will also be interesting to see if the new dual tight end scheme of CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. 


Don’t forget return man extraordinaire Braxton Berrios, who proved invaluable last season. Will Denzel Mims put his trade demands aside and surprise? Don’t put money on that one yet.


On the other side of the ball, top pick cornerback Sauce Gardner and veteran corner and former Seahawk DJ Reed were seen as a panacea for the secondary, which was the league’s worst last year.


Sauce will be battle-tested with Baltimore’s Rashod Bateman and the rest of the rising burners. Reed is listed as questionable for his Jets’ debut as is backup Justin Hardee. Brandin Echols, whose stock rose as a rookie last year, could see some time depending on Reed’s state.


Ex-Raider Lamarcus Joyner also will make his Jets’ regular season debut at safety, as he missed all of last year. He’ll be teamed with Ex-Buc Jordan Whitehead, who will also officially wear green-and-white for the first time. It will also be interesting to see how they can work together.


The bad news is Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson is still looking for a new deal, and he has played well in openers. The Jets’ revamped pass rush led by a healthy Carl Lawson and Quinnen Williams will need to apply consistent pressure.


Two big keys to Sunday will be the play of the offensive line, and the new-look secondary not playing like the old-look secondary. Both are triggers on either side of the ball. 


Along with this game, both will be true indicators on how the Jets’ season spins.


For this week, though, the Ravens (-7) look pretty good.


About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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