Grotesque. Abhorrent. A complete and utter debacle. Ravens 10, Jets 9. If you look back at last year’s season opener (24-7 win at Houston), last night’s clunker was the polar opposite . But … we’ll open with a few words of optimism!
* The Ravens are Super Bowl contenders (who were missing arguably their best defensive player, Ed Reed)
* The Ravens running game, which rushed for 234 yards in the playoffs against the Patriots, had just 49 yards on the ground (1.4 ypc) against a defense that lost its nose tackle, Kris Jenkins, to injury in the first quarter
* The Jets only gained 176 yards of offense, had six first-downs, and 14 penalties for 125 yards … and still were only a FG away from winning the game if they could get about 50 yards on the final drive
And that’s about it. The negatives? Well, if you have an hour …
* The Jets were smoked by Peyton Manning in the AFC title game and upgraded their No. 2 and 3 cornerbacks by signing Antonio Cromartie and drafting Kyle Wilson. Both had horrendous debuts, and were repeatedly burned by Anquan Boldin or Derrick Mason. Cromartie did have a nice interception and return (video below), but he was flagged numerous times for penalties; Wilson had a costly pass-interference call on 3rd down that gave the Ravens 1st and goal (which led to their only touchdown). The Ravens got six first downs via penalty, a franchise record. OPTIMIST: That was probably a top five receiving corps in the league. PESSIMIST: The Patriots, who also have a top five receiving corps, are coming to town in five days.
* We kept ranting all summer about chemistry problems … how much of that has to do with 14 penalties? Tough to tell, but there were a couple on the offensive line (which shouldn’t really happen at home). Braylon Edwards had two horrible ones – he wasn’t set on one play, which wiped out a Sanchez pass to Dustin Keller that put the Jets inside the 10; on another one, he was called for running into the kicker (questionable), which ultimately led to the Ravens’ only touchdown.
* We kept ranting all summer about running back being a major issues … Shonne Greene fumbled twice (lost one, which hurt bad; it was right after the Cromartie pick as the Jets seemed poised to go up 13-0) and as a result, he was on the field in the second half for one play (he dropped a screen pass). Warm up Chauncey Washington, because LT can’t handle 15-20 carries a game.
* The rancor toward Mark Sanchez will be ratcheted up a bit today because a) The Jets didn’t convert a 3rd down until final minute, b) he was just 10-of-21 for 74 yards. He didn’t turn the ball over. The offensive conservatism (run, run, pass) was not going to work against an experienced front seven like Baltimore’s; that falls upon the offensive coordinator. We’ll give Sanchez until week six (Santonio Holmes arrives in week four) before really hammering him.
* What does a week one loss mean? “Since the N.F.L. realigned the divisions in 2002, 52.3 percent of 1-0 teams made the playoffs compared with just 22.7 percent of teams that dropped their first game.” Interesting collection of teams who lost in week 1, many of whom were picked as division winners: Cowboys (road), Vikings (road), 49ers (road), Jets (home), Colts (road), Chargers (road). We still won’t totally panic for the Jets after a week two loss to the Patriots. But lose that week three game in Miami …