EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 21st of 32 preseason previews in 32 days leading up to the NFL season opener Thursday, Sept 5.
NEW YORK JETS
Win total last 5 years: 43
LVH over/under wins (6½)
The New York Jets have averaged nearly 9 wins over the past five years and made the playoffs three times. That’s hard to fathom these days.
Primary reason is at quarterback. The circus that was acquiring Tim Tebow last season and basically letting him sit in favor of everybody’s whipping boy Mark Sanchez – he of the famed “butt fumble.”
Not many expected Sanchez to possibly be kept on, let alone start in 2013. In true Sanchez style, he threw a pick-6 deep in his own territory to begin Week 1 of preseason.
And yet with fans wanting rookie Geno Smith or even Fireman Joe (Jets’ No. 1 fan) to start, Sanchez was named to run the offense for the season opener against Tampa Bay. That will be must see TV with Revis Island returning to the Meadowlands in Buccaneers gear.
Head coach Rex Ryan is clearly on the hot seat and likely gone unless Sanchez can somehow recapture the form that made him a No. 1 draft pick out of Southern Cal. Unfortunately his regression has him looking more like Matt Leinart.
The Jets made it a point to find a replacement for Darrelle Revis at cornerback, taking Alabama’s Dee Milliner with the first pick. Smith (West Virginia) went in the second round behind the team’s second No. 1 selection defensive end Sheldon Richardson (Missouri).
Jets owner Woody Johnson fired his general manager from last year – the Tebow fiasco no doubt contributing to the change. Ryan survived, but he’s not likely to remain from a repeat – and he knows it.
The Jets traded their fourth round pick to the Saints for running back Chris Ivory. As for the receiving corps there isn’t much there if Santonio Holmes continues to be hobbled by injury or lack of motivation.
And that’s what the real problem is on the Jets – attitude. The Giants are the darlings of the New York-New Jersey area. The Jets are the whipping boy and the combination of Ryan and Sanchez gives fans and the media plenty of ammunition to fire.
Smith suffered an ankle injury that set him back. There seems to be little doubt, though, that at some point in the season he will be running the offense.
After Tampa Bay comes another must-see game with New England and Tebow. Facing the Patriots at Foxborough puts an even bigger importance on defeating the Buccaneers in the opener.
With Miami and Buffalo expected to be improved in the AFC East, the road doesn’t look so good for Gang Green.
Thursday: New Orleans Saints
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].