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NT position badly hurting Jets' run defense

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Posted Oct. 11, 2012 @ 10:03 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Jets have been marred by injuries and it’s showing on both sides of the football. What might be the most astonishing stat through five games, though, is the run defense. The Jets are 31st in the league, allowing 172.4 rushing yards per game. And teams clearly are not afraid to run against the Jets, who have allowed a league-high 176 rushing attempts.

A huge reason for the struggles against the run come at arguably the most important position in the 3-4 scheme — nose tackle. Sione Po’uha has played in three games and missed two others with a back injury, and one daily observer indicated that Po’uha has not looked nearly as stout in his three games, clearly hampered by the injury.

The statistics tell quite the story about the problems in the middle of the run defense, where the nose is supposed to set up plays for LBs Bart Scott and David Harris. Last season, the Jets were second in the league, allowing 2.93 yards per carry up the middle. Through five games this season, the run defense up the middle is allowing 4.79 yards per carry, almost two whole yards more a touch, which is ranked 25th in the league.

Relief isn’t coming soon, as Po’uha’s backup, Kenrick Ellis, is out 4-6 weeks with an MCL injury — though Ellis hadn’t done much to make things better when replacing Po’uha. Reserve Damon Harrison and this week’s free-agent addition Daniel Muir will man the middle this week if Po’uha is still out. Rex Ryan said that Mike DeVito, whose best attribute is stopping the run, also could move inside to help against the run. The Jets sorely need a healthy Po’uha, who got a contract extension in March, to help shore up the problems against the run. 

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