Jets Season Preview: It's not all about Tim Tebow
On your Mark, get set, Tebow! While most of the talk concerning the Jets this preseason has surrounded the most famous backup quarterback in NFL history, Gang Green will begin its quest to shake off its first non-playoff campaign during coach Rex Ryan's three-year reign Sunday afternoon against Buffalo at MetLife Stadium. Here's how the Jets shape up for 2012:
Offense - Mark Sanchez has won four road playoff games, played for two AFC titles and produced 27 regular-season victories in his first three years as an NFL quarterback. His reward for this impressive resume is the Jets' renewed quest to bring back the "Ground and Pound" offense, despite a shaky offensive line, depleted receiving corps and "top-secret" Wildcat formation that threatens to keep him sidelined for stretches while Tim Tebow runs the huddle.
Defense - While the offense managed one TD during a winless preseason, Ryan's defense showed signs of the versatility and stinginess that led the Jets to the brink of the Super Bowl in each of his first two years.
A somewhat more reserved Rex will be looking to key returnees Darrelle Revis, David Harris and Bart Scott to blend with newcomers LaRon Landry, Jeremiah Bell and first-round pick Quinton Coples in re-establishing one of the league's most fearsome defenses.
Wild Cards - The Jets have thrived on strong special teams playing under the longtime tutelage of Mike Westhoff. Return man Joe McKnight usually gives the Jets good field position, but can he finally turn into a threat out of the backfield to compliment incumbent battering ram Shonn Greene this year?
Despite shaky hands during the preseason, Stephen Hill could get the start Week 1 against the Bills, making him the Jets' first rookie starter at WR since Wayne Chrebet in 1995.
Saying goodbye to embattled offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and disappointing tackle Wayne Hunter may prove to be the most productive moves, but only if new OC Tony Sparano gets the Jets moving upfield and into the end zone.
Schedule - Still chasing the Patriots for AFC East supremacy in Ryan's fourth year, the Jets will travel to Foxboro for a Week 7 tilt on Oct. 21 before hosting New England on Thanksgiving. Also of note: a visit from the 49ers in Week 4 for what should be a defensive stalemate, kicking off a stretch of three home games that includes faceoffs with Houston and Indianapolis.