Lot's of people and writers have been indicating that the Jets may be in trouble for 2 reasons. The first was the run game and it's recent lack of production. The second came last week with the injury to Nick Mangold. I was sitting on the couch and I thought that he tore all 3 ligements or had a broken fibula. Luckily it's a high ankle sprain. I just attribute it to my overly negative Jets bad luck pessimism.
Anyway, to get to the point, you don't need a center if you play the game the right way. There are several things that you can do that make the center important such as inside runs, traps, and draw plays. On those plays the center has to get out and run, get to the second level LB's. That's why Mangold is so important in the run game. I've even seen him trapping ends and linebackers on the edge on occasion.
This week is different though. Because Nick is out, I think you can do alot of different things to compensate. Colin Baxter may be up to the task, or maybe not, but why worry about it? Here's why:
The Raiders are one of the few teams that play only man defense. At least they have been for the last few years. This year, they don't have Asomungha anymore. If the Jets can spread the field into 4 and 5 wide sets and use the HB for a few draws, counters, and screen passes the Raiders will have to counter that by playing with only 3 or 4 lineman against 5 offensive lineman for the Jets. To me thats a wash, and Baxter is not as important.
If Sanchez can get some quick passes and let the WR make a play he can wind up with a high passing percentage and get all the receivers involved early instead of working of the run to get the receivers involved. Baxter will not get exploited if you use 3 step drops, or even a 1 step and throw the bubble screen or hot route. If they combine this with a little no hudle it will result in Oaklands Defensive ends and corners getting gassed and not being able to pass rush effectively.
The other front it works on is getting some chemistry going with Holmes, Mason, Burress, Keller, Kerley, and LT all involved in the passing game. There have been a lot of grumbling about not enough balls for the 3 WR's. If Sanchez throws 40 dinky passes traveling 5 -10 yards and completes 30 of them I'd be happy. The receivers would be happy, and it would be on them to make a play after the catch. If he gets the ball off quickly and accurately, the offensive line can come out unscathed.
Physically, the Raiders will try to outmuscle the Jets and get as physical as possible and hope that McFadden will break a big one running, or catching. By utilizing a short passing attack the way they utilized a pounding rushing attack last time they can control the clock and Oakland won't have a chance.
The key is quick, low risk passes and letting Sanchez really take over this team this week. Gameplans have to change sometimes according to what you can do best. I see this as being the best way to accomplish the Jets being on the field offensively more than the Raiders, and not getting Baxter exposed. All man defense and no exotic blitz packages, is not hard to pick apart if your short accurate and patient.