The New York Daily New’s Seth Walder joined T&R Wednesday morning, and while he says the Patriots are the team to beat in the division, the Jets should be right behind them.
“If I had to predict I’d have them second. I think New England is the runaway team in the division, and I don’t see that changing,” he said. “The Jets defense could be better than last year, even though they were the fifth ranked defense. That’s a point of pride for this team and I expect that to be better.”
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After making it to the AFC Championship games two straight years, the Jets finished 2011 just 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Could Rex Ryan survive another 8-8 season?
“I think he can,” said Walder. “I think Rex puts a lot of pressure on himself to succeed. He talks about it being a make-or-break season, but it’s not the first time he’s said that. He could survive; I think he is well-liked by management, the players and the media… I would call him fairly secure in that regard.”
If Rex Ryan isn’t enough for the New York media, Tim Tebow is also along for all the fun this season. Tebow heard some boos from fans after some less-than-stellar throws in practice last week, but Walder said the jeers were widely overblown.
“I thought it was overstated mostly in the media. There are a few thousand people watching every day, and Tebow drew a few heckles from a few guys. It was nothing crazy,” said Walder. “When pads come on, he shines: I think to some degree that is fair. Rex Ryan said the other day that right now, Tebow is looking to pass, when they’re in the team drills. In some of those coversages he would take off and run; he’s not going to do that in an 11-on-11 drill.”
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While the Jets have Mark Sanchez under center, Walder said there could be a few times Tebow sees the ball, but not as a quarterback.
“I think it’s possible but not entirely. (Jets special teams coach) Mike Westhoff has said there are some situations that Tebow will actually be a kick returner,” said Walder. “That isn’t going to happen a lot, but I think when they’re anticipating a short kick that is when they’d put Tebow in there.”
Could having two high-profile quarterbacks like Tebow and Sanchez in the same locker room — competing for the same job — cause some friction down the road?
“I think as much as maybe we’d enjoy watching that happen, it’s not going to cause a schism,” said Walder. “Tebow is a guy that is hard not to like. I really do believe him and Sanchez get a long pretty well. If Sanchez were to get benched and Tebow were to talk over, it is possible something could go wrong there in terms of locker room chemistry. But I can’t imagine Tebow causing too much fuss in his backup role.”