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The Jets Defense Is on the Spot Again This Week

Injury to Mangold leaves offense without its best player

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Mangold's injury leaves a big hole on the visit to the Black Hole.

    The Jets have done a lot of work over the last couple of seasons upgrading the talent on the offensive side of the ball.

    But bringing in Santonio Holmes, Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress and LaDainian Tomlinson hasn't changed the fact that the best and most important player on their offense is Nick Mangold.

    The center is an outstanding blocker, he's also responsible for setting up the blocking for the entire offensive line and he has a bad game about as often as he gets a haircut.

    And now, after 82 straight games leading the offense, the Jets are going to have to go it without Mangold in Oakland this weekend. The high ankle sprain that knocked him out against the Jaguars is going to keep him from getting on the field this Sunday, leaving undrafted rookie Colin Baxter as the man in front of Mark Sanchez.

    For a team that has struggled to establish its ground game and is already dealing with a subpar right tackle in Wayne Hunter, this is very bad news.

    The Raiders have an aggressive and deep defensive line that is capable of creating a lot of pressure on Sanchez, so if the Jets can't get the run game going the offense will be stuck in neutral.

    Thankfully, the last two seasons have provided them with a lot of experience dealing with these kinds of situations. They hand the keys over to the defense and let them grind their way to a victory.

    That's pretty much what the Jets did against the Jaguars last week, even if the 32-3 score makes it seem like a total rout. The defense drove the win by getting a safety early and then forcing four interceptions that eventually broke the back of a game Jacksonville defense.

    They'll need to put forth the same kind of effort to win a third straight, something that seems possible against a team quarterbacked by Jason Campbell. Darren McFadden is a great running back, but the Jets should be able to load up on him and let Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie handle the mediocre receivers in Oakland.

    Another blowout seems quite unlikely, which means that Sanchez probably won't get a chance to enjoy a hot dog like he did in the 2009 visit to Oakland. That's probably better for his health, although the hearts of Jets fans would probably benefit from the kind of game that includes ample time for snacking.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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