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Butt fumble. Those two words still haunt the New York Jets as they try very, very hard to forget the 2012 NFL season. Led (so to speak) by errant QB Mark Sanchez and an even worse supporting cast on offense, the Jets finished the year at 6-10 SU and 7-9 ATS, and they did it in about the most embarrassing way possible.
So what have the Jets done to correct things for 2013? Not enough, which leaves them as 3-point home underdogs (–105) for Sunday’s matchup versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers didn’t make the playoffs either, but if you love to bet on the NFL, they were heroic in defeat at 7-9 SU and 10-5-1 ATS. Double the rum ration for the crew, matey.
Make ‘em Laugh
The autopsy on the 2012 Jets was finished before the patient even died. Sanchez took the brunt of the criticism, which is both completely unfair and typical for a starting quarterback – especially in New York. Not to be a Sanchez apologist, mind you. He followed up three years of slow and steady growth with more fumbles (14, the most famous after colliding with guard Brandon Moore’s ample backside) than touchdown passes (13).
Perhaps Sanchez would have continued to develop had he been given something more to work with on offense. Thanks to a series of retirements, injuries and dubious personnel decisions, the 2012 Jets sunk to No. 30 in offensive efficiency last year. Only the miserable Kansas City Chiefs were worse. Sanchez’ No. 1 target turned out to be Jeremy Kerley (56 catches, two TDs), and RB Shonn Greene wasn’t much help either at 3.9 yards per carry.
If It’s Broke, Fix It
The Jets responded to their 2012 pratfall by firing GM Mike Tannenbaum and replacing him with John Idzik, who spent the past six years in the Seattle Seahawks front office. Also out the door: offensive co-ordinator Tony Sparano, who was once a rising young star under Bill Parcells, but spent last year not getting along with head coach Rex Ryan. Marty Mornhinweg is Ryan’s latest OC.
As for the offense itself, Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury during the preseason, giving second-round pick Geno Smith the opportunity to nail down the starting job. Unfortunately for Jets supporters, Smith was erratic during the preseason and hasn’t shown the tools to handle Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense. At least RB Chris Ivory (5.1 career yards per carry) is in town, although he has a history of knee and foot injuries and has been splitting carries with ultra-slow Bilal Powell (3.7 yards per carry).
Meanwhile, the one thing that makes the Jets work – their defense – has taken a hit. Four-time Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis is now a member of the Buccaneers, thanks to the offseason trade that landed New York the No. 13 overall pick in 2013, DT Sheldon Richardson. This is a big step back for the Jets, at least in the short term. The Gang Green defense slipped from No. 2 to No. 9 on the efficiency charts as Revis missed all but two games of the 2012 campaign. The best cornerback in the NFL will play zero games for New York in 2013.
The Bucs, on the other hand, are on an upward trajectory after finishing last year ranked No. 26 against the pass, compared to No. 3 on the ground. And QB Josh Freeman had some success in his fourth season in the NFL, throwing a career-high 27 TDs (albeit with 17 INTs) and enjoying the support of breakthrough rookie RB Doug Martin (4.6 yards per carry, 49 catches, 12 combined TDs).
No wonder the NFL betting world is steering clear of the Jets this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX). Our consensus reports show Tampa Bay pulling in 72 percent support while moving from –1 to –3 on the NFL betting lines. William Hill had its original line of Buccaneers –1.5 on the board as we went to press; once again, it pays to shop early.
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