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The Breakdown: Mink's Five Thoughts on Ravens' Blowout of Jets

WR Rashod Bateman & QB Lamar Jackson celebrate a touchdown.

Five thoughts on the Ravens' Week 1 rout, 24-9, of the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Revamped defense paid immediate dividends

Baltimore's defense dominated in Mike Macdonald's first game as coordinator and did so by reversing its troubles from a year ago.

The Ravens struggled to get turnovers last year, finishing near the bottom of the league in interceptions and forced fumbles. Free-agent addition Marcus Williams nabbed an interception on the third drive of the game, elevating to snag a high Joe Flacco rocket. The defense forced two fumbles and recovered one.

The Ravens got after Flacco all day up front, and it wasn't all from constant blitzes. Flacco was under duress from Justin Houston on the edge, Justin Madubuike up the middle, Patrick Queen from every angle, and others. The Ravens piled up 11 quarterback hits, led by Queen's three.

The Ravens secondary, which finished 32nd in the league last year, kept a cap on Flacco's big arm. He never beat them deep (and didn't even really try).

Year 3 breakouts may be coming from Madubuike and Queen

For all the additions the Ravens made to the defense this offseason with Williams, first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and cornerback Kyle Fuller, it was the play of two young returners that may have been most encouraging.

Queen and Madubuike, two of the Ravens' top three picks from 2020, were all over the field hammering the Jets offense. Queen's speed was on full display, and he was on target seemingly every time, like a heat-seeking Ravens missile. His tackling was rock solid. Queen has always had the tools, and now he looks sure of how to use them.

Madubuike was a Peter King candidate for Defensive Player of the Year last season, which seemed extremely lofty then but may be closer to coming true a year later. But from the Jets' first drive of the game, Madubuike was dominating inside. He finished with a half sack and another tackle for loss. Calais Campbell said Madubuike played at an All-Pro level.

Devin Duvernay is the No. 2 wide receiver the Ravens need

Devin Duvernay shushed the concern about the Ravens' wide receiver situation, at least for now, with two touchdown catches. His contested 25-yard grab for the Ravens' first touchdown of the 2022 season was a beauty – a contested leaping grab around a defender's arm. That's the kind of catch that earns trust from your quarterback.

Duvernay went to the Pro Bowl last year as a special teams returner. He's looked good just about every time he got the ball the past two years but wasn't yet ready to get it a lot. Now it's Duvernay's time to shine as a starter and he showed Sunday he's ready to step up to the challenge. He caught all four targets that came his way for 54 yards.

Everybody knew Rashod Bateman was stepping into the No. 1 wide receiver role and tight end Mark Andrews would still probably lead all the pass catchers. Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely was viewed as, potentially, the third option. The No. 2 wide receiver was almost an afterthought, but Duvernay proved Sunday that he can be a fourth reliable receiving option the Ravens need.

After a tough start for Bateman with two third-down passes that he failed to haul in, the speedster broke wide open behind the Jets defense for a 55-yard touchdown in the third quarter and the rout was on. The second touchdown catch of Bateman's young, promising career turned around what would've been a disappointing debut for the top receiver.

Ravens have to run the ball better than this

The Ravens' bread and butter is running the ball. The roll was dry early on as Baltimore mustered just 11 rushing yards on seven carries in the first half.

The Ravens are without top running back J.K. Dobbins and left tackle Ronnie Stanley, and the Jets have a strong defensive front, but Baltimore felt like it was in a better place with their run game reserves, both at running back and the offensive line. That may still be the case, but it has to be better than that for this offense to have sustained success.

Jackson and the Ravens offense found themselves in too many third-and-long situations, which contributed to just 92 offensive yards by halftime. Baltimore aired it out more in the second half and that helped open up the ground game a little more, as the Ravens finished with 63 yards on the ground. But with 21 carries, that's just 3.0 per run. They'll take a hard look at the tape after this one. Rookie center Tyler Linderbaum said it was mostly just knocking off rust.

Injuries already taking their toll early in the season

After a healthy preseason, the Ravens suffered two tough injuries in their season-opener. Ja'Wuan James suffered a torn achilles then starting cornerback Kyle Fuller went off with what looked to be a knee injury.

Mr. Versatility Patrick Mekari filled in admirably and the offensive line play actually seemed to improve in the second half. Still, this underscores the need for Stanley to return to game action soon. Baltimore still is fortunate with improved depth, as rookie Daniel Faalele was a healthy scratch but may not be for long.

Fuller hurts, but this is another situation that should be manageable with Marcus Peters likely not too far off from game action. Brandon Stephens also played well and rookies Jalyn Armour-Davis and Pepe Williams can be called into action.

Short takes: We saw the first indications of how Macdonald plans to use Hamilton, as he came into the game early during obvious passing situations and Chuck Clark moved to dime linebacker while Josh Bynes exited. … Kenyan Drake was the starting running back and led the way with 11 carries. Mike Davis (two carries, 11 yards) had a fumble that won't help him make up ground. … Surprised by the quiet debut for Likely, who was targeted by four passes but didn't haul in any. The rookie fourth-round pick caught everything in training camp. After being the buzz of the preseason, it's a good opportunity for growth. … Flacco's reunion ended with a whopping 59 passing attempts but only 307 yards to show for it.

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