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Schedule sets up for Sanchez to struggle early

Mark Sanchez

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez talks to reporters in the Jets’ locker room in Florham Park, N.J., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. The Jets season ended without a playoff game after a season filled with inconsistent play, some in-fighting and lost opportunities. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


Mark Sanchez will head into the regular season as the Jets’ starting quarterback. But the entire NFL world will be watching for any signs that the Jets could turn to Tim Tebow to take Sanchez’s place. And the Jets’ early schedule isn’t great for Sanchez’s chances of getting off to a good start.

After opening the season against the Bills, whose new defensive end Mario Williams could dominate Jets offensive tackle Wayne Hunter and feast on Sanchez, the Jets will face the Steelers, Dolphins, 49ers and Texans. As Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News points out, that means that in Weeks 2-5 the Jets face the No. 1, No. 6, No. 2 and No. 4 scoring defenses from 2011.

If Sanchez gets off to a good start against those defenses, it’s a great sign that he really is developing into the franchise quarterback that the Jets need him to be. An optimist would look at the Jets’ early schedule and say it gives Sanchez a big opportunity to prove himself.

But with a lot of games against good defenses in the early going, it’s easy to envision Sanchez struggling. And if Sanchez struggles, Rex Ryan may decide that it’s Tebow time.