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Jets' new scapegoat? It's the GM

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- And your new starting right tackle for the New York Jets is ...

Mike Tannenbaum, the general manager. He's not really on the line, of course, but his reputation is.

Without Wayne Hunter to kick around, the new scapegoat for any offensive failures will be Tannenbaum, not Hunter's replacement. Fair or not, if neophyte Austin Howard allows a sack Sunday night against the Carolina Panthers, the blemish will be charged to Tannenbaum's record. He's the man who picked the right tackles, the man who assembled the entire offensive cast.

Because of the poor start, Tannenbaum is starting to take some heat around town. Even the Jets' best player, Darrelle Revis, joined the chorus, openly questioning whether Tannenbaum has done a sufficient job of surrounding Mark Sanchez with enough weapons.

On Friday, Revis backtracked, saying it's not his job to evaluate personnel. Too late.

A word of advice to Darrelle from Florham Park and all the other call-in critics and amateur GMs: Relax.

Yes, the Jets have been terrible on offense, going two games without a touchdown, but can we at least let them fail with the entire unit intact before we start firing people?

Forget the last two games. They didn't have wide receiver Santonio Holmes, they didn't have slot receiver Jeremy Kerley and they didn't utilize an entire section of the playbook -- the Wildcat package, featuring Tim Tebow. And it's a new playbook, too.

You won't see the Wildcat against the Panthers, but you will see Holmes and Kerley, meaning the lineup will be whole for the first time. Now is the time to expect significant improvement. Now is the time to expect a passing attack that can stretch the field beyond 10 yards. The Jets are lining up with their best players and they'll play about three quarters.

No matter what happens in the third (and most important) preseason game, it'll still be a work in progress, but at least the pieces are in place to make a fair evaluation. If they can't score against the Panthers, whose defense didn't scare anyone last season, the concern will be justified.

Another goose egg would represent regression, and two consecutive weeks of regression wouldn't be the ideal way to head into the season opener. Remember, the starters (and the world's most famous non-starter, Tebow) won't play in the final preseason game next Thursday in Philadelphia, so this is the last chance to build some positive momentum.

"I think it's about time we score some points," guard Matt Slauson said.

The Jets have gone 24 possessions (a total of 118 plays) without reaching the end zone. In fact, their deepest penetration has been the opponents' 17-yard line, which can't even be considered knocking on the door. They still haven't made it up the walkway to the door.

They've had only four plays in the red zone, and the aggregate of those plays is minus-10 yards.

OK, that's the bleak picture. Here's the rose-colored perspective from Sanchez.

"We're really in a good spot," he said. "I know it doesn't look like it from the outside, but that's OK. The most important thing to learn from last year, other than taking care of the football, was stick with the guys in here. Don't worry about outside opinions. Stay focused on our goals and our preparation and keep supporting each other, because that's where I think some of the breakdown was last year."

Guard Brandon Moore, who has been around longer than anybody on offense, claimed he's not worried about doubt creeping into the locker room. He acknowledged that "we've been inconsistent, even in training-camp practices, but that's the purpose of camp."

For the most part, Moore is right. But it helps to have tangible results when you're trying to master a new system, with a new coordinator -- Tony Sparano -- whose coaching style is the polar opposite of his predecessor. Seeing (and doing) is believing.

Revis might turn out to be right. Maybe Tannenbaum didn't do a good job of replenishing the offense? There are red flags, to be sure. But it's unfair to make that judgment after only two preseason games.

"Is it important if we win or have production on offense? I'd like to," said Rex Ryan, referring to Sunday night. "But I'd like to have the production when we play the Bills over anything else."