- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Yes, the start of training camps is two months away, but it’s never too early to consider the coming season. A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Jets in 2012.
Dream scenario (11-5): Everything comes together and the Jets set themselves up for another playoff run. Much of this comes down to starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, who must have a bounce-back year in order keep his job and fend off backup Tim Tebow. If Sanchez throws well, Tebow can effectively stay in his role as the Wildcat quarterback and things could run smoothly for New York’s offense. The defense will be fine. The Jets finished fifth last year in total defense, and that was despite their offense's inability to sustain time-consuming drives. New York has the talent to be a playoff team. But chemistry and quarterback issues remain. The Jets also would need their division rivals, especially the New England Patriots, to have a down year. The Jets were 3-3 against the AFC East last year and need to improve that mark to get a playoff spot and perhaps a division title in 2012.
Nightmare scenario (5-11): If things fall apart, this has the potential to be the worst year of the Rex Ryan era. The Jets haven't had a losing season under Ryan. But with so many questions, this is very much a boom-or-bust season. New York has locker room issues, a quarterback controversy and a brutal first five games that could set a bad tone for the year. If the Jets start 1-4 or 2-3, can this team stay together enough to pull out of it? That wasn’t the case a year ago and probably won't be the case this year. The Jets have a lot to prove both on the field and in the locker room. There are a lot of combustible personalities on the team, and New York proved last year that things can implode quickly from within. It also doesn't help that the Jets are under the biggest media spotlight in New York. If Tebow is the starting quarterback at some point next season, that means something went wrong. Tebow could take over Sanchez's starting job either because of poor performance or injury. Neither scenario would be good.