Jets facing plenty of questions entering season

Associated Press Modified: September 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm •  Published: September 3, 2012
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Doubts, uncertainty and lots of questions.

That's what the New York Jets are facing as they begin preparing for their regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Is the offense really that inept? Can Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow co-exist? What exactly will Tebow's role be? Has Mike Tannenbaum provided Rex Ryan with enough talent to return to the playoffs?

Always confident, Ryan has said this might be his best Jets team. Now, they all get to prove it.

"All that work that you've done, all the work that the players have done, the lifting and all the meetings and things, it's for this," Ryan said Monday. "It's not to win a preseason game. It's to be at your very best when the regular season starts."

The Jets went 0-4 in the preseason and scored only one touchdown — last Thursday night at Philadelphia with all the backups and third-stringers in the game.

With Tebow expected to give a boost to new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's offense, the Jets showed little to ease fans' fears that they'll be able to put up enough points to be a playoff-caliber squad.

New York became the first team since the 1977 Atlanta Falcons to go through its first three games without getting into the end zone. Whether it was Sanchez or Tebow, the offense just couldn't punch it in, and the Jets have been criticized for it for weeks on message boards, sports talk radio and by the media.

For games that didn't count.

"It was kind of strange," rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill said. "Like you just said, it is preseason. The games start this weekend, and we're looking to put on a show."

The way things went in the preseason, two touchdowns would qualify as a scoring barrage. Not that Ryan is concerned with any of that.

"I don't care about how many we score," Ryan said. "I just want to have one more point than the Bills do, and that's every week. It doesn't matter. The defense has to hold them to this, the offense has to score — we don't care. It's all about getting one more point than the opponent and that's it.

"If that means we don't score a touchdown and we still win, we'll be happy and the Jets fans will be happy."

But they might still be a bit uneasy.

That's why the defense is going to have to be up to the task of dominating opponents and closing out games. Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine have had some terrific units with the Jets, but they believe this one has the chance to be special.

"This is the best defense I've been around — ever," said defensive lineman Mike DeVito, entering his sixth season with the Jets. "This defense is incredible, so we're excited to get started and we love proving people wrong. That's our M.O."

Because of all the questions surrounding the offense, many media members have New York finishing around 8-8 or 9-7 this season — and that's even with the defense playing at an ultra-high level.

Some say it will all come down to how the defense performs and if it can carry the offense all season.

"We plan to be the best," DeVito said. "It doesn't matter what anybody else is doing. We plan to be the best defense. We plan to not let up scores and we plan to go out there and shut down offenses. That's our deal, so nothing else matters. Not what anyone says or does. It's all about what we're doing."



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