Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is hoping this won’t be his last rodeo in New York. Thankfully for him, the team he’s served faithfully the past four years hasn’t found a suitable replacement for him yet.
Sanchez spoke to the media for the first time on Tuesday at a charity event in Morristown, N.J., following season-ending shoulder surgery in early October.
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Despite rumors the Jets might buy out the remainder of his long-term contract after this season, Sanchez definitively said he wants to return to the team next year.
“I know I’ve heard a lot of stuff on the outside about me not being here and that stuff like that,” Sanchez said. “I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case in the building. Hopefully not. Hopefully, I’m a Jet. That’s where I am, that’s where I want to be.”
As for his shoulder, surgery was a success and he is pushing ahead in rehab to the point the medical staff wanted him to slow down to ensure a full recovery. But any concerns about the health of his throwing arm are unfounded, and he even referenced the movie “Rookie of the Year.” In the movie, a 12-year-old boy’s broken arm heals in spectacular fashion and gives him the ability to throw so hard he earns a contract with the Chicago Cubs.
“The way things are coming along it sounds like I’ll be bionic,” Sanchez said. “I don’t want to say like ‘Rookie of the Year,’ but hopefully something like that, where you come back better.”
Sources told Metro New York in training camp Sanchez was ahead in the QB competition over rookie Geno Smith when he was injured.
In 2009, the Jets had the best total defense in the league and each of the next two years they were a Top-5 unit. Even this year, despite being saddled with short fields, the defense is No. 9 in the league and could be much better if the offense could move the ball even somewhat.
It is beginning to wear on the defense.
“We know that pretty much every game, we are going to have to carry the offense,” one veteran defensive player told Metro. “The offense, we know they're trying, but they just aren't moving the ball the way we'd like it. The way we'd all like it to be. It's a lot of pressure right now on us to not make mistakes.”
The major issue for the Jets is simply staying on the field and the offense can't even make it a battle of field position at this point. On Sunday in a 19-3 loss at the Ravens, the Jets converted just once on 12 third-down attempts.
“We know we have to score, there’s no question about that and we have to do a better job on third down in particular in both those games” head coach Rex Ryan said. “So, that’s an area of emphasis that we’ll be focused on this week.”
It has gotten to the point that the defense has to be impeccable in terms of its play. Over the past two games, the Jets have scored a combined 17 points, meaning there is little to no margin for error for the defense.
“It can wear on you. It makes you afraid to make a mistake,” the veteran defensive player said. “And when that happens, you play tight and that's where you make more mistakes. It's something we have to overcome. Hopefully this weekend, though, we score some points and then it isn't an issue. We have faith in those guys on offense though. They can do it.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.