FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The Jets’ 24-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday was all about the defense, which didn’t allow a touchdown. Led by Sheldon Richardson, Gang Green’s front seven put on a show holding the Ravens to just 6 rushing yards on 12 carries. Overshadowed by Richardson’s self-fulfilling ‘I’m back playing D-Line’ game, were two young backups who proved that they can play – linebacker’s Lorenzo Mauldin and Julian Stanford.
“Shout out to Mauldin [he] held the edge a lot…he picked it up a lot since preseason and that’s the main reason why,” Richardson said about the run defense and its stellar play.
Mauldin's sophomore season hasn't started the way he hoped for in terms of getting game reps. Throughout training camp, head coach Todd Bowles reiterated on numerous occasions that Mauldin still needed to develop. Mauldin's impressive first season showed the coaching staff that he is capable of being an impact player. It was thought that Mauldin would be the starter at the outside linebacker spot, but the Jets have played a lot of 4-3 sets which has left him as a backup.
With recent injuries to David Harris (DID play Sunday), Mauldin has seen more practice reps over the last few weeks, and with Erin Henderson's season ending after being placed on the non-football injury/illness list, Mauldin showed his potential on Sunday. Despite Muhammad Wilkerson's absence from the game, Mauldin flaunted his 6-foot-4 259 pound frame by getting after Joe Flacco from the defensive end position. Pinning his ears back and rushing the passer is what he does best, and although he had just one tackle and a quarterback hit, he was able to apply pressure to Flacco which the secondary capitalized off of. Mauldin put in work in the run game as well and if he continues to contain the edge Bowles will put him out there more.
Another young millennial is Stanford who played lights out and showed the Jets what his potential can be. Registering seven tackles (six solo), Stanford played fast and proved that he can be trusted when given a chance. He has bounced around the league, playing on different practice squads with teams such as Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Detroit before joining the Jets last December.
Before Sunday, Stanford was promoted to the 53-man roster and got his opportunity to play when linebacker Bruce Carter went down with a quad injury in the second quarter. The team is slimmer at linebacker due to injuries and his play gives hope to a defense that is still not where it wants to be.
The defense returned to playing smart, effective football on Sunday. The Jets should feel confident in the fact they brought the ‘next man up’ mentality to fruition.
“A lot of people were feeding off of other people’s energy,” said Leonard Williams.
On a more somber note, rest in peace to the uncle of Richardson who was murdered last Tuesday. As expected, Richardson played with a heavy heart Sunday and it showed.
“He guided us through this win, I know he did” Richardson said.
Marcus Reynolds is a staff writer for Jetsinsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Marcus_JRNL), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).