The New York Jets 2012 Preseasons (a.k.a The Search For A Touchdown) continues Sunday when the Jets host the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium at 8 p.m. It's one of the many Jet games this season, with a likely thanks to Tim Tebow, that will be on national television, as the game gets the Sunday Night Football treatment on NBC. The third preseason game is the one that garners the most attention, as most NFL teams play their starters into the second half in Preseason Week 3, and as starters generally don't play in the fourth preseason game, it's the last time for fand and media to get a glimpse of the A-Team before the regular season starts.
The questions surrounding the Jets are seemingly endless at this point of the preseason. Most of them are on the offensive side of the ball, where the 0-2 Jets remain the only team in the NFL to not score a touchdown this preseason. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has completed 13 of his 17 attempts, which is indeed a positive, but has thrown for just 80 yards. Tim Tebow's numbers look like Tim Tebow numbers, but we've yet to see the controversial backup in the Wildcat role, which is what the Jets claim they really brought him in for.
As for Sanchez, he has yet to complete passes to the team's top three receivers this preseason; Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley are expected to get off the shelf and make their preseason debuts on Sunday, and Stephen Hill has generally featured with the second team and Tebow. The Jets don't have a ton of weapons on offense, but in fairness Sanchez hasn't had the chance to throw to the team's best yet.
This week the Jets finally demoted Wayne Hunter from starting right tackle to the bench and replaced him with Austin Howard. It's essentially addition by subtraction as Hunter had become such a distraction with his poor form. Howard gets a chance on Sunday with the first team (he did get some first team snaps in the Jets' first preseason game at the Bengals), and also has to prove that he belongs as a starter in the NFL. Howard was an undrafted free agent who spent most of last season as a practice squad player for the Ravens. He's not exactly Orlando Pace, but the general consensus is that he's better than Hunter by default.
New York's defense remains the unit that most people have confidence in. Quinton Coples, the team's first round pick from this past April's draft, has impressed and it will be interesting to see if he can put together three productive performances in a row on the Jets' defensive line. Second year tackle Kenrick Ellis will start for Sione Pouha and will get a big test against a potent Panthers running attack. Mainly, the Jets want to get out of this game healthy on the defensive side of the ball.
It's the offense that needs to produce to get people to start backing off the ledge.