June 12, 2012; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) and New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) during New York Jets Minicamp at the Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NFL Preview: New York Jets

With the NFC East complete, our tour around the NFL stays in New York for the AFC East contenders, the New York Jets. I’m often very hard on the Jets because I don’t like their talk first, self-hyping, machismo infused way of doing things. But make no mistake, if they can get themselves focussed on football, there’s enough talent there do some damage in the AFC.

As always, I’m letting an expert on the team do the heavy lifting for these previews. This time it’s Alan Schechter, Editor of The Jets Press.

Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason: Pass Rush, Safety

Key Free Agents Retained: Bryan Thomas, Aaron Maybin(restricted free agent)

Key Player Additions: Yeremiah Bell

Key Players Leaving: Jim Leonhard, Plaxico Burress

Quick Thoughts on Draft: The Jets had a great draft.  The Jets needed a pass rusher and safety help desperately, and they achieved those goals.  I think whoever called the Jets draft a failure doesn’t know what they were watching.

Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule: The hardest part of the schedule is clearly the first quarter.  If they can get through that, the schedule isn’t that bad.

Most Interesting Roster Battle: Mark Sanchez v Tim Tebow, no other battle is even that interesting

Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012: Increased speed on defense.  They got younger and faster with Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Josh Bush, and Antonio Allen, and it’s a great sign.

Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012: The right tackle position.  It still leaves a lot to be desired, and that competition will be very important in camp.

Biggest Question Still To Be Answered: How will the quarterback situation play out?

2012 Prediction: If Mark Sanchez steps up and plays well 11-12 wins is possible, if not, and Tebowmania takes over, 4-12

As I indicated at the top of this article, the success of the Jets will have less to do with their talent and more to do with their ability to get past the distractions. Head Coach Rex Ryan, whome I believe is the source of most of the team’s problems in that regard, promised that the team would avoid the off-field drama this year. Unfortunately, they then traded for drama magnet Tim Tebow, so clearly it was an empty promise.

Ok, it’s not that bad. It just feels like it be because of the fact that we’re force-fed that aspect of the Jets by the national media. The truth is that Rex Ryan, while obnoxious, really knows defense. That knowledge combined with above average talent on the defensive side of the ball, and you have a recipe for a team that can win a lot of games.

It will all depend on the offense. The O-line isn’t as strong as it was a couple seasons ago when they were in the AFC championships game, but it’s not bad either. As Alan said, the success of this team rests on the shoulder of Mark Sanchez. If he can’t show enough improvement to keep Tebow off the field, then this team will once against not live up to it’s talent level.

Tags: Jets Mark Sanchez New York Jets NFL Tim Tebow