FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Due to injuries, the Jets will face a different Patriots defense in Week 7 than they did in Week 2. Jets center Nick Mangold won’t replay those epic grapples with Vince Wilfork for position in the middle of the field, since the Patriots defensive tackle is out with a torn Achilles. Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was placed on injured reserve this week with a pectoral injury.
Will this make it easier to run the ball up the middle of the Patriots defense?
“No, you now have to look at who’s in there and study a little bit more, especially when you look at Vince [Wilfork],” Mangold said. “Every game that I’ve played, Vince has always been there. You kind of rely on your experience, you watch the film, but you rely on your experience, and now there are guys in there who you don’t have experience with, so it’s going to be a challenge for us up front. It’s going to be a fun week.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan wouldn’t tip his hand, but he did say that he didn’t expect the Patriots to be exposed despite the loss of two key players.
“You look at them, they do a good job,” Ryan said. “They’ll still have those big guys inside. [Brandon] Spikes is a underrated linebacker. He’ll hit you. He’s like the old under-tackle, a big guy that can get in there and smash you. I’m sure [Dont’a] Hightower will probably be in there, or somebody will be in there, at inside backer. They’re pretty stout inside anyway, but obviously with Vince being out, that is a factor, without question.”
Jets offensive lineman Willie Colon put it more succinctly.
“Belichick is a genius, he’ll use what he has,” Colon said.
Running back Chris Ivory recently said he thought the Jets should run the ball more, and this just might be the week to do it. The Patriots may be vulnerable there, and the Jets running backs, particularly Bilal Powell, have found yards.
“Bilal is doing well, Chris Ivory is starting to get his wheels back,” Colon said. “It’s sad that we lost Mike [Goodson] because I think he was coming alive for us. I think having Josh Cribbs in the backfield helps us without a doubt.”
Powell was on the injury report on Thursday with a neck injury, although he participated fully.
If it’s a matter of gamesmanship, the Patriots may expect and have prepared for the run, so it may not be over-thinking to imagine Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would deviate from the expected path.
“We’re so confident in our backs and our offensive line, that we’re just going to run our game,” offensive lineman Austin Howard said.