Darrelle Revis unloaded Thursday on Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, which is a lot more productive than the Jets unloading on each other during their December meltdown last season.There is never anything wrong with the Jets ripping the Patriots, and it’s always fun when Belichick and Brady are the targets, but the Jets are so psychologically fragile — they get that from their starting quarterback — that it’s just a matter of time before they are pointing fingers at each other again.
The Jets’ offseason program started April 16, but Thursday was the first day the media were invited into the locker room with all the veterans present. It was interesting to observe the dynamics.Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow attracted standing room only crowds, and it felt like the Jets have two starting quarterbacks. When you have two, you have none. The Jets need one.Tebow’s locker is located 10 stalls to the right of Sanchez’s. They are about 30 feet apart. Backup Kevin O’Connell, no longer a Jet, was next door to Sanchez last year, but the team elected not to move Tebow into O’Connell’s locker. That's a good thing because the neighborhood would get crowded.Sanchez spoke first Thursday and drew an overflow crowd. As soon as the public relations staff announced Sanchez was done, he stood alone. He never makes himself available for small talk, and nobody bothers to even try anymore. A few minutes later, Tebow attracted a gathering just as large. If would have been interesting to hear what Sanchez thought about his backup — for now — being so in demand, but he had already put in his time answering questions. When Tebow was done, he sat by his locker and chatted.
It’s not a big deal, but it reveals a mind-set. Tebow embraces the attention, which is virtually required in New York. Even in his fourth season, Sanchez is still programmed in his responses.It’s inevitable a Sanchez-Tebow quarterback controversy will split the Jets, whether it comes in training camp or in September — unless Sanchez is playing lights-out. A difficult stretch to open the season would erode Sanchez’s power base in the locker room if he becomes a target. The momentum would build for Tebow, with cries for him to do more than operate the Wildcat and run an occasional fake as the blocking back on the punt team.Tebow displayed good footwork dancing around questions about whether his goal is to be the Jets’ starter, saying he’s just trying to get better every day. When he was pressed and asked if it was fair to say he won’t be satisfied being the backup — of course he won’t — he talked about pushing himself to his limits. Then he said in a soft voice under his breath, “That’s a good question, though.”
When Sanchez throws his first interception in the season opener at home against the Bills, the campaign for Tebow will start in the stands at MetLife Stadium.“You know how New York is,” one veteran Jet said Thursday. But will the players follow? This is a game of survival, and if Sanchez struggles, the locker room would shift to Tebow if the players think he gives them the best chance to win. That's how it works when there is a 1 and 1A.“I'm not going to get into hypotheticals about it,” Sanchez said. “I feel good in my position here as the starting quarterback and we’ll just keep going with that.”
Does the addition of Tebow create any doubt in his mind where he stands? “Not at all,” Sanchez said.What about the competition with Tebow? “I hope every backup quarterback wants the job of the starter,” he said. Then he put Tebow in his place by saying it was fortunate for the new QB that he can do other things and “that's why he’s on board.”Sanchez nearly went home and cried to his brothers when Rex Ryan had the audacity to give ancient Mark Brunell a few first-team practice snaps. What’s going to happen if Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano give Tebow more than a handful of snaps — maybe as many as 20 — in a game and he is the reason the Jets win? If things aren't going well for Sanchez early in the season, I may have to move up my projection of Tebow starting by Halloween.
Sanchez has strong allies in tight end Dustin Keller, center Nick Mangold and tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and he will need them if he gets off to a slow start. Sanchez must be the leader if he is going to succeed, but Tebow’s presence is not a good thing for him. Tebow’s best attribute as a quarterback is not throwing the ball. It’s his leadership skills. Teams need multiple leaders, but it's awkward for two quarterbacks to be considered leaders.Revis was stumped when he was asked if Sanchez and Tebow could each fill that role. “That's a tough question,” he said. “I don't know.”There are two ways this can go. With the Jets finally making Sanchez fight for his job, instead of enabling him for three years, he might take the next step as a quarterback. But if he doesn’t grow up and handle the challenge, it could destroy him.
The Jets sent out mixed signals to him in the offseason. They gave him a contract extension and then traded for the most popular player in the league to back him up. By now, this should have been Sanchez's team. Now he's sharing it with Tebow
Mark Sanchez reported to the Jets' off-season program in the best shape of his life."I feel great," he said Thursday. "This is probably the best I've felt coming into a season."
That's a no-brainer.
After the 2009 season, he underwent knee surgery and spent most of the offseason in rehab. After the 2010 season, he almost needed surgery to repair torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder, opting instead for rest and rehab.Sanchez suffered a pinched nerve in his neck last season, causing occasional "stingers," but he healed with no medical procedures. He worked with his personal trainer in Southern California, adding five pounds of muscle to his now-230-pound frame. You can see his upper body is slightly more defined than in the past.
"I pushed myself to get a little stronger, a little thicker, maintaining my agility and speed," he said.
DeVITO GLAD TO BE BACK :
DE Mike DeVito said he harbors no bitterness toward the team for drafting DE Quinton Coples in the first round and, subsequently, forcing him to take a $610,000 pay cut for 2012. DeVito will have a reduced role for the coming season, the final year of his contract."I'm just grateful to be here," DeVito said. "Nothing is guaranteed in this business, or in life."DeVito endorsed the decision to draft Coples, who likely will start in his spot."I'm glad we got him," he said. "He's a great player, a dynamic player, a guy that can add a lot to the defense. I'm excited to have him as a teammate."
SHOULDERING ON :
LG Matt Slauson, who underwent major shoulder surgery after the season, said he's making excellent progress. He hasn't participated in drills, but he's been working on the blocking sled and blocking bags. He expects to be ready for training camp.
By now everyone is aware of New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow's biggest strengths and weaknesses. He is an athletic and powerful runner, but his passing often misses the mark.As a result, the Jets' backup quarterback said he has been working diligently to improve as a passer. Last week Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano praised Tebow's passing. Improvement in that area would make Tebow a more dangerous quarterback in 2012."I've been working pretty hard at doing that," Tebow told reporters after organized team activities. "I feel like I had a good offseason before I got here, and being here and working with Coach Sparano and working with Mark [Sanchez] and working with Coach [Cavanaugh] on our drills and footwork and mechanics every day, I hope I'm improving. That’s my goal and I believe it's happening."
Tebow entered the NFL with faulty mechanics. He's in his third season and has a career completion percentage of 47.3. Tebow completed a career-low 46.5 percent of his passes in 2011.Quality NFL quarterbacks complete about 60 percent of their passes. So Tebow has a long way to go in that department. He makes up for it in some ways with his ability to move the chains with his legs.Tebow had nothing but good things to say about Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Tebow is pushing Sanchez every day, but the pair do not seem bothered by the competition."It's been great," Tebow said. "We've had a great relationship ever since he hosted me at USC and we had a lot of fun together and a great experience. We got a lot of stuff to talk about, and always going back and forth, we have a very fun quarterback room, we have a good time."
Tebow said he went to dinner with Sanchez in New York City the other night. If this quarterback pair can be effective and work together in harmony next season, the Jets have a chance to make some noise in the AFC East.
New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez is very durable. He's proved it over three seasons by missing just one start. However, Sanchez's durability has more to do with his toughness than his actual size, and that's something Sanchez aims to improve.Sanchez wants to get bigger and stronger in 2012. That will help him take the punishment at quarterback over a 16-game season."Just starting with this first couple of weeks, one of these things is in the weight room, to really push myself and get a little stronger, a little thicker and maintain my agility, my speed and things like that. That was No. 1 physically," Sanchez told reporters at organized team activities this week.
Sanchez has had nagging injuries in the past but always played through them. Last year he took a beating as his offensive line was inconsistent. Sanchez, who is listed at 225 pounds, was sacked a career-high 39 times, often by defensive linemen who outweighed him by at least 50 pounds.This is an important season for Sanchez, who has a lot to prove. Durability will be especially key this year, because popular backup Tim Tebow is sitting behind Sanchez and waiting for his opportunity.
On what it’s like to have all the guys back together…
It’s been great. It’s just good to see everybody again. I think there’s a good vibe going around the building. It’s positive and we’re happy to be back. Coach Sparano’s been working us hard on offense and Bill Hughan has been great with the strength program and conditioning. Guys showed up in shape and ready to start another year, so that’s positive.
On his thoughts on last season…
I think everybody’s moved on and we’re ready to attack this new year and get off to a good start.
On his relationship with Tim Tebow…
It’s been great, so far. Tim is obviously a hard worker and he’s competitive. I thinks it’s been nothing but positive, to this point, and that’s what I anticipate in the future. It’s been fun.
On whether it’s a relationship where they push each other…
Of course. Whether we are in the weight room or on the field, you compete against yourself every day, that’s for sure. And whoever the other quarterbacks are, whether it was Mark Brunell last year or it happens to be Tim this year, you are always going to have other quarterbacks in the room and it’s your job to push each other - in the class room as well. So he’s been a great addition for us and he’s been fun to work with.
On whether he is concerned with Tebow wanting to be the starter…
I hope every back-up quarterback wants the job as the starter. That’s the way you have to prepare. I’ve been in those shoes in college, anticipating the game, studying like I’m the starter and then getting to the game and not playing, so fortunately for Tim he has the ability to do other things and that’s why he’s on board. So he’s a back-up quarterback first and then he’ll do plenty of other stuff.
On the dynamic of Tebow coming in to the game after he’s moved them down the field…
It’s yet to be seen and yet to be talked about too much. We are taking things slow and that will be up to the coaches, so we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
On whether there is one or two offenses…
You’ve got to talk to Coach Sparano about that.
On what type of guy Tebow is…
He’s been great - everything as advertised. As positive, as competitive, he’s fun to be around as everybody’s already mentioned. I didn’t expect anything different and that’s exactly what he is, so it’s been great to work with him.
On if Tebow on the team has challenged him…
I don’t know. I guess in some ways it makes things easier, it makes it harder on you guys. It’s been fun. Nothing’s been too tough to handle. We’ve been great about going out on the field, being in the class room watching film together, it’s an ongoing working relationship and that’s the way its got to be and that’s the way you want that quarterback room to work. We’re fortunate enough to have Coach Sparano and then Coach Cavanaugh back. That’s huge for us. I was thrilled when they decided to keep him and Tim and I will both benefit from that.
On how difficult it has been for Tebow to go from the starter to the back-up quarterback…
You’d have to ask Tim. I’ve never been in that position. But, even if it is difficult on him, you’d never know. He’s just that guy that goes to work every day and works hard and brings his best. That’s the way he is, so you would never know it. If that is the case, I have no idea.
On meeting with Santonio Holmes in the offseason and if it helped them grow…
Absolutely. One, it was good to just kind of talk away from the building, away from football, and talk about the things that didn’t go so well last year and how we can move on and get better and as soon as we came back that we’d never talk about it again and let’s just move forward. And that’s exactly what he’s done and that’s what I expect him to do. He expected the same from me. It was important that we had that time and now we’re back and you would never know it happened.
On if their disagreement last season was overblown…
I mean, ridiculously. (It was) out of control. That was way overblown. But it was good. It gave us something to laugh about and move on. We’re good.
On the fans cheering for Tebow in the wildcat…
I mean, they are cheering for the Jets.
On if the fans calling for another quarterback will test his mental toughness…
I’m really not too worried about it and I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. I think, whatever we do, whatever Coach Sparano installs is going to be successful. That’s the way he is and he’s had success just about everywhere he’s been and this place will be no different. So we’ll handle that when we get there, but we’re excited to get things going.
On the difference with Coach Sparano…
I’m not going to compare (Coach Sparano and Coach Schottenheimer), but as far as Coach Sparano goes, he’s been stern. He’s great at installing plays. He’s been great on the field for the time that we’ve had on the field. He’s to the point. He’s a no nonsense guy. He’s exactly what we need and we’re excited about his arrival. He’s really pushing us.
On how players react to Coach Sparano’s coaching style…
That’s all we know. It’s good. It’s been great so far. These first three weeks or so have been exactly what we needed - just put your head down and go to work - a real team atmosphere, Coach Sparano preaches that - lifting other guys up, pushing each other and really competing and that’s what our team has done on offense.
On how he will benfit from Coach Sparano’s system…
(There are) a number of things I’ve noticed. He expects a lot of you, but he’s fair. He’ll remind you each day exactly what we’re going over. Just like a game plan, he’ll let you know, “We’re going to work on a specific situation, here’s what I expect.” And if doesn’t happen, that’s when you hear the coach Sparano that everyone talks about. So that the most important thing. But at the same time, I said he’s fair. When you throw a good ball, when somebody runs a good route, when you get the answer right, that’s what he wants and he expects it, but he also rewards you for that and lets you know. Just his demeanor will be great for us. He’s going to be fun to work with.
On his goals for the offseason…
Just starting with this first couple of weeks, one of these things is in the weight room, to really push myself and get a little stronger, a little thicker and maintain my agility, my speed and things like that. That was number one physically. Mentally, obviously with the new system, it’s just getting the system down and trying to master it. That’s where I am at right now, and we’ll just take it in phases.
On whether he needs someone to push him…
I’m the kind of guy that competes against myself at all times. Whether Tim is here, or there is another backup quarterback, I’m always competing with myself first and then whoever else is in the room, so it doesn’t matter either way. But (Tebow) has been great to work with and I’m excited to keep working with him.
On the criticism of him last season…
It’s something that we dealt with last year and we moved on. I don’t think anyone really wants to go there anymore.
On if he has to come off the field for an entire series…
I’m not going to jump into hypotheticals, but whatever is helping us win, we’re all on board. Tim is going to support me when I’m in there, I’ll be rooting for Tim when he’s in there, and it’s all going to help the team.
On if Tebow coming in would affect his rhythm…
I’m not too worried about it, I’m really not. I’m just trying to get through this playbook, not get too far ahead of myself and take things in stride and just be sharp and master each part of the playbook as it comes.
On quarterbacks needing to be in a rhythm in general…
You go through streaks at times, where you get hot for a second, so who knows. But like I said, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about that stuff.
On players waiting to see what a Tebow package would be…
We’ve done plenty of things and we’re just taking the offense in stride. So, that’s all I’ll really say about it.
On how he feels physically…
I feel great, this is probably the best I’ve felt coming into a season.
On any injuries from last season…
I feel great. I worked hard in the weight room before we got back, Bill (Hughan) is continuing to push me and push my limits and that’s exactly what I needed. That was one of my goals coming in.
On improving his physical conditioning…
(I am) just pushing myself (in the weight room). (Concentrating on) upper body strength and lower body strength and isolating specific muscle groups to help with everything on the field and keep it functional. So it’s been great and Bill has a great program for us.
On not being consulted about the Tebow trade by the management…
That’s their decision. The personnel issues on this team, that’s for them to decide. They don’t have to check with anybody on the team.
On if he would have preferred to hear about the trade before it was made…
That’s really a hypothetical.
On the support for him in the locker room…
I’m not really going to get into hypotheticals about but I feel good about my position here as the starting quarterback and I’ll just keep going with that.
On if bringing Tebow in created doubt with where he stands…
Not at all.
On his relationship with Tebow…
He’s been great. Everything is as advertised. He’s a hard working guy, he’s competitive, he’s fun to be around and he’s a good teammate. Those are all the reasons why you want a guy like that on your team and you want to help you win. So, it’s going to be a good relationship, it’s been good so far and I anticipate it being good in the future.
On what he and Tebow have joked about…
I don’t want to get Tim in trouble. I’m just kidding. He’s got an image to protect. (joking) No, he’s great.
On Dustin Keller’s comments that he and Tebow would not be able to joke if they were enemies…
Tim and I are great, so, it’s all good.
On if he is tired of the questions about Tebow and him…
No, not yet. It’s only May.
On getting questions about Tebow for the next nine months…
That’s part of the job.
1. COVERING SAN-BOW: I've covered a lot of backup QBs, from Pat Ryan to Bubby Brister to Mark Brunell, but I've never seen one draw as much media attention in the locker room as Tim Tebow did during Thursday's media period. It was almost surreal. The Jets are used to the spotlight, but one player shook his head and told me,"It's going to be an interesting year."Mark Sanchez, in a radio interview the next day, acknowledged the crowd around his locker was smaller than usual -- and he thinks that might be a good thing if it continues that way."He can take pressure off you, as weird as that may be," Sanchez said of Tebow.
Sanchez speaks to the media only 30 minutes per week -- tops -- always drawing the most reporters. If he thinks that's pressure, you wonder how he'll respond when the pressure gauge starts climbing, when he and Tebow start playing for real.
2. BABY STEPS: Tebow told reporters Thursday that he's been practicing exclusively at quarterback -- no Wildcat -- prompting conspiracy theorists to conclude that it's the Jets' secret intention to use him only at QB (to take Sanchez's job), and that the Wildcat plan is nothing but a ruse.That is ridiculous. Hello ? The Jets are learning a new offense. They have to learn the basics of the offense before they can start running gadget plays -- and that goes double for Tebow.
3. DRAFT HINDSIGHT: Turns out the Seahawks' surprising choice of DE/OLB Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick did force the Jets (16) to change their plans -- according to the NFL Network, that is. A report said they had a deal worked out with the Steelers (24), who wanted to trade up for G David DeCastro, but the Jets decided not to do it when Irvin was picked. They would've traded down if Irvin and DE Quinton Coples had been on the board, increasing the likelihood they'd get one of them at 24.In retrospect, based on the players chosen from 17 to 23, the Jets probably would've had Irvin or Coples -- plus third- and fourth-round picks from the Steelers (an educated guess on the trade compensation). If Irvin and Coples were gone, the Jets could've had WR Stephen Hill, whom they said was rated just below Coples. They got Hill in the second, but it cost them two picks to move up.GM Mike Tannenbaum, speaking to reporters Saturday during an event at MetLife Stadium, declined to comment on the reported Steelers trade that fell through, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark. It's easy to read between the lines.
4. STURDY LIKE A BRICK: Of the top four picks in the 2006 draft, only one remains with his original team -- LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson (No. 4). The Jets could've gone a few different ways in that draft, but it's a credit to Tannenbaum that he got a foundation player. Interestingly, the top three picks are now in the AFC East -- DE Mario Williams (Bills), RB Reggie Bush (Dolphins) and QB Vince Young (Bills), who signed Friday.
5. NEW LEADER: The Jets' defensive linemen are raving about new position coach Karl Dunbar, who was fired by the Vikings. Dunbar had an advantage over his predecessor the moment he walked in the door: He actually played the position and coached it. The previous D-line coach, Mark Carrier, was a former secondary coach who played safety; it made no sense to have him coach the D-Line.Dunbar already has taught the players a couple of pass-rushing tricks, including the long-arm technique. It's almost like a running back's straight arm, a way to create separation from the blocker. DE Mike DeVito told me it "allows you to read what the offensive lineman is doing. ... It's a great move. He's got a bunch of stuff like that."Wonder how the long-arm technique would've worked with South Carolina pass rusher Melvin Ingram, whose arms measured only 31.5 inches at the combine -- a perceived shortcoming (no pun intended) that may have hurt his draft stock. The Jets bypassed Ingram with the 16th pick to take DE Quinton Coples (33.25-inch arms).
6. KEEPING IT SIMPLE: Several offensive players said new coordinator Tony Sparano uses play calls that consist of less verbiage than his predecessor, Brian Schottenheimer. After the season, Rex Ryan remarked that Schottenheimer's terminology was too confusing. Sparano definitely has made an early impact: He's a meat-and-potatoes coach and doesn't stand for any ... well, meat heads. As TE Dustin Keller said, "His coaching style is almost like college -- in your face." Linemen usually like that kind of law-and-order mentality; skill-position players -- the divas -- are less apt to embrace it.
7. ON-THE-JOB TRAINING: RG Brandon Moore told me it's not unusual to walk into the team cafeteria for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and see a bunch of offensive playbooks open, players studying or quizzing each other on the new system. Said Moore: "Sometimes you feel like a rookie again."
8. TEAM WANTED: So, Plaxico Burress, how's free agency going so far?
9. PAYING RESPECTS: Say what you want about Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- Darrelle Revis said plenty the other day -- but give him credit for this: He attended Junior Seau's private wake Thursday night in San Diego and flew back for his team's rookie minicamp Friday morning. Seau finished his legendary career with the Patriots, 2006 to 2009.
10. PERSPECTIVE, PLEASE: It sounds like the Browns think they drafted the next Jim Brown, the way the coaches are gushing about first-round pick Trent Richardson. He's very good, no doubt, but can we wait until he puts pads on before we anoint him ?
The NFC South has the top QB quartet: Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Josh Freeman.
I began my NFL scouting career with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003. After four years there, I accepted a promotion to join the Cleveland Browns in 2007. I vividly remember telling a few of my buddies in the league about my decision to take the job with Cleveland. Most of them gave me the standard "Congratulations" or "I'm happy for you," but one response caught me off guard:
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"Why are you going to another AFC team? All of the top quarterbacks are in that conference. If you go to an NFC team, the path to the playoffs is a heck of a lot easier."
Things have definitely changed since 2007. The balance of power at the QB position has clearly switched to the NFC. To prove this point, I've ranked each division by the collective strength of its quarterbacks. I've also ranked the four QBs inside each division. These rankings are based off my expectations for the 2012 season.
I put this division on top because of the combination of depth, production and upside. Brees is a perennial MVP candidate. Ryan has been incredibly consistent in the first four years of his career. Newton's remarkable rookie season included a QB-record 14 rushing touchdowns. Freeman has lost weight and I expect him to have a bounceback season in 2012.
2) NFC North
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1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Matthew Stafford, Lions
3. Jay Cutler, Bears
4. Christian Ponder, Vikings
This division is loaded at the position. Rodgers is the top QB in the league. Stafford finally stayed healthy and posted monster numbers in 2011. Cutler has always had the ability and I've seen growth in his decision making. I'm not yet sold on Ponder, but I saw some good things last season.
3) NFC East
1. Eli Manning, Giants
2. Tony Romo, Cowboys
3. Michael Vick, Eagles
4. Robert Griffin III, Redskins
The QBs in this division are all must-see TV. Manning has two Super Bowl rings and a growing reputation as a clutch performer. Romo had an excellent 2011 season that should quiet some of his critics. Vick started poorly last season, but he became more patient and efficient during the last quarter of the season. RG3 landed with the perfect coach to take advantage of his talents.
4) AFC West
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1. Peyton Manning, Broncos
2. Philip Rivers, Chargers
3. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
4. Carson Palmer, Raiders
This division added some major star power with the arrival of Manning. Health and age are a concern, but an old Manning at 75 percent is still pretty darn good. Rivers tossed too many picks in 2011, but he played well down the stretch and should return to form in 2012. Cassel was having a disappointing 2011 campaign before suffering a season-ending hand injury. Palmer should benefit from a full offseason after joining the Raiders mid-year in 2011.
5) AFC North
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
2. Joe Flacco, Ravens
3. Andy Dalton, Bengals
4. Brandon Weeden/Colt McCoy, Browns
It was a tough call putting this group behind the AFC West QBs. Big Ben has two Super Bowl rings and is arguably the best in the league at extending the play. Last season, Flacco was a dropped pass away from making his Super Bowl debut, while Dalton would've been the talk of the league if not for Cam Newton's amazing rookie year. I'm not the biggest Weeden fan, but he does have size and a live arm.
6) AFC East
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1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Mark Sanchez, Jets
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
4. Matt Moore/Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
I almost feel guilty ranking Tom Brady's division this low, but there are simply too many questions with the other three QB situations. At the age of 34, Brady threw for more than 5,000 yards and made his fifth Super Bowl appearance. Despite accounting for 32 touchdowns last season, Sanchez is under heavy scrutiny and must deal with the arrival of Tim Tebow. Fitzpatrick has to be more consistent and do a much better job of protecting the football in 2012. Despite the addition of Tannehill, I expect Moore to start the majority of the season.
7) AFC South
1. Matt Schaub, Texans
2. Andrew Luck, Colts
3. Matt Hasselbeck/Jake Locker, Titans
4. Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
This group is best described as "under construction." After two healthy and productive years, Schaub was forced to miss the final six games of the 2011 regular season with a foot injury. Luck is the most pro-ready QB to enter the league in the last decade. Hasselbeck is going to get a strong push for his job from the younger, more gifted Locker. Gabbert should benefit from the wide receiver additions, but he's still very raw and unpolished.
8) NFC West
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1. Alex Smith, 49ers
2. Sam Bradford, Rams
3. John Skelton/Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
4. Matt Flynn, Seahawks
This division only returns one QB (Smith) that started more than 10 games in 2011. Smith wasn't flashy last year, but he did a great job of protecting the ball and making clutch throws. Bradford has the most ability in the division, but he is going to have a hard time thriving with the lack of help around him. The Cardinals paid a steep price for Kolb, but Skelton outplayed him last year and should be the favorite to win the job. Flynn is a good decision maker, but his overall skill set is average at best.
Mark Sanchez has received a lot of criticism this offseason, the latest coming from an unlikely source -- the punter.
Wait, make that the ex-punter.
New York Giant Steve Weatherford, whose 15 minutes of fame have lasted five months, questioned Sanchez's maturity this week during an NFL.com podcast."I like Mark -- I think he's a very talented quarterback -- but from my standpoint, I haven't seen a lot of maturation," said Weatherford, making the media rounds this week because the Giants received their Super Bowl rings. "When you're a quarterback and you come in, and you're expected to be the face of the franchise, and you're expected to lead the team.
"That's a lot to take on as a rookie. But as the years go on, I think you're expected to mature, skill-wise, and also mature as a leader, and to be honest with you, as much as I like the guy, I just haven't seen that."Weatherford has been removed from the Jets for a year. He was Sanchez's teammate in 2009 and 2010, when they reached back-to-back AFC Championship Games, but the Jets decided not to re-sign Weatherford last offseason. He landed with the Giants and, lo and behold, he was a pivotal player in their championship run, landing a new contract.Weatherford also was critical of Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff at various points during the season.