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Jets vs. Patriots: Missing Players Limit New York's Ability to Mix Things Up

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago in Atlanta, the Jets came out and showed the Falcons as many different looks on offense as they could come up with. They ran the Wildcat. They had formations with two tailbacks and a fullback. They split backs and tight ends wide. There are many different reasons they tried this, but one was likely to test some inexperienced players in Atlanta's lineup. These were unfamiliar looks that would force the Falcons to respond. In the two tailback set, for example, if a linebacker was assigned the tailback, which of the two would he take? Would one of his teammates see this and take the other tailback? Would they both look for the same guy?

Jerrod Mayo was viewed as the quarterback of New England's defense. He made the calls. He was just placed on injured reserve this week, leaving the job to the less experienced Dont'a Hightower. It would seem likely the Jets would want to test him out and try to trip him up by throwing unique wrinkles at him.

There is a bit of a wrench in this idea, though. The Jets are missing some components that allowed them to use so many packages against the Falcons, namely Mike Goodson and Kellen Winslow II. Without Winslow, two tight end packages are a lot tougher to run. Goodson's absence takes one of three running back options off the table.

It feels likely the Jets will test New England, but these losses leave them with less hands to play.