Mark Sanchez, Jets Have Outside Shot to Make Noise in AFC East After Offseason Downgrades


Mark Sanchez, Sen'Derrick MarksPatriots fans will no doubt revel in the fact that not much is expected of the rival New York Jets this season.

Coach Rex Ryan is on the hottest seat in the NFL, as New York has failed to reach the playoffs the past two seasons after appearances in the AFC Championship Game the two before that. The Jets are easily the longest shot to win the AFC East, with Bovada oddsmakers listing them at +1400.

The preseason means next to nothing, but the opener wasn’t pretty for New York as embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the Jets’ first series. That’s not exactly the best way to win a quarterback competition with Geno Smith, the team’s 2013 second-round pick out of West Virginia.

Smith, who at one point was the 2012 Heisman Trophy favorite, may be the future for the Jets, but most think Sanchez will be the starter in Week 1 even though he’s been the worst full-time QB in the NFL the past two seasons. He has turned the ball over a combined 52 times the past two years, including the infamous butt-fumble last Thanksgiving against New England.

New York ranked 30th in total and passing offense in 2012 and 28th in points at 17.6 per game. The team fired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano after last season and replaced him with former Eagles coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, specifically because he’s considered a good teacher for quarterbacks.

The Jets seem to be going backward in terms of offense, letting leading rusher Shonn Greene leave in free agency. It’s likely former Saint Chris Ivory will replace him as the featured back. The receiving corps could be one of the worst in the NFL, especially with No. 1 Santonio Holmes still recovering from a serious Lisfranc injury in his foot. He might miss regular-season games.

The Jets traded away arguably the NFL’s best cornerback this offseason in Darrelle Revis and focused on defense with their two first-round picks in April’s draft, taking Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner at No. 9 overall and Missouri tackle Sheldon Richardson at No. 13, the pick the team got from Tampa Bay for Revis.

New York is 40-1 to win the AFC and has an over-under wins total of 6.5, with the under a -155 betting favorite. That they will miss the playoffs is a -1000 favorite, with making it at +600. Anything short of a postseason berth likely means Ryan will be let go, and Sanchez would probably follow him out the door. New general manager John Idzik has no ties to either man.

The Jets, who open the season against Revis’ Buccaneers, were swept by the Patriots in 2012. In Week 7 at Gillette Stadium, New England won 29-26 in overtime as an 11-point favorite. Sanchez actually had one of his better games of the year, throwing for 328 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble in overtime that gave the Pats the win. In that Thanksgiving game at MetLife Stadium, the Patriots won 49-19 thanks to a 35-point second quarter, including the Sanchez butt-fumble.

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