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Catching up with … the Jets

06.04.12 at 1:17 pm ET

First in a continuing series this offseason that takes a look at some of the Patriots’ biggest competition in the AFC. We start our series with the Jets.

The last time we saw the Jets, they were finishing up a rather underwhelming 8-8 season, five games behind the Patriots in the AFC East. For a team that was coming off back-to-back appearances in the AFC championship game, a .500 season that ended without a playoff berth was humbling for Rex Ryan and friends.

Who they added: The Jets acquired a backup quarterback — maybe you’€™ve heard of him? Tim Tebow? (He was last seen getting flattened by the Patriots in the postseason.) They also added safety LaRon Landry and his giant arms in free agency. New York also picked up a few intriguing names in the draft in defensive end Quinton Coples (first round out of North Carolina), wide receiver Stephen Hill (second round out of Georgia Tech) and linebacker Demario Davis (third round out of Arkansas State). The Jets are hoping that Coples can provide a boost for a pass rush that had problems toward the end of the 2011 season. Hill is a physical freak who just tore up the combine. And Ryan has already compared Davis to Bart Scott and Ray Lewis, so, you know, no pressure there.

Who’€™s gone: Two big names that were only peripherally involved in the offense at the end of the season in wide receiver Plaxico Burress and running back LaDainian Tomlinson are still free agents after not re-signing with New York.

How they feel about the Patriots: ‘€œThis is a team we have to beat, clearly. The three years I have been here, they have won our division all three years. That’€™s something we want to do, so there is a chess match going on. Would our team look differently if ‘€¦ would we put so much of our resources, as some people would call them, into a corner if we weren’€™t playing the New England Patriots? I don’€™t know. We always look at what they are doing, but the main thing is building our team. We have a vision for our team, we’€™ve got to stay the course, we’€™ve got to do what we do best, and I think that’€™s our main focus.’€ — Rex Ryan on the Patriots

Analysis: Three things stick out about the Jets this offseason: One, a clearly chastened Ryan (who also has lost a ton of weight) promised this year at the combine that he wasn’€™t going to be making any Super Bowl predictions, saying the guarantee had a bad effect on his team. We’€™ll see how long that holds. Two, while the Jets did address the defensive side of the ball, there are still questions about the state of the offensive line. And three, the Tebow thing is just nuts. The dynamic between Ryan, Tebow and Mark Sanchez will be fascinating to watch if/when Sanchez struggles.

Read More: catching up with, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow,



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