Upon entering the league three years ago, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was handed the keys to the team. During training camp of his rookie year, before taking a regular season snap, he was given the nickname “The Sanchise,” such was Sanchez’s value to the franchise.
It hasn’t always turned out the way the Jets envisioned it would.
Now entering his fourth season, Sanchez must do better than last year’s modest — at best — progress under center. More rests on his offseason development than at any other time in his young NFL career.
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“Physically, I feel the best I have felt. My mental approach I feel solid. I feel confident in my throws. I have been fairly accurate and taking care of the ball, so those are the biggest thing I want to improve upon,” Sanchez said. “Now it is just [to] do that over a long period of time and sustain it for an entire season and I am ready for that.”
But factor in the trade for Tim Tebow and it’s a recipe for disaster for Sanchez.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am with Mark. After the season, I think he was just like the rest of us, myself included. Obviously you’re hurt. You can’t wait to get back at it. And that’s what he did,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “His motivation is much more than having Tim Tebow. He wants to be great and he’s making strides to be the quarterback we want here.”
Unlike last year, this is an offense with few proven stars and Sanchez must play better and smarter than at any point in the past three years.
The biggest job for Sanchez may in fact not be anything physical but mental. Despite his mediocre passing numbers, he is a well-respected voice in the locker room and known to be among the hardest workers during offseason conditioning.
But bringing in someone the caliber of Tebow to be his backup isn’t exactly a vote of confidence.
“I think since day one it was a focus that kind of rattled him a little. And I use that word only to say, ‘Wow, how did this happen?’ And those were words that came out of his mouth,” wide receiver Santonio Holmes said.“But I think he understands now that his role is to be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback, and Tebow is here to help us win as many games as he can help us win.”
From the perspective of Holmes, there has been an acceptance by Sanchez of the role of Tebow in the offense. Holmes has been critical of the offense in the past but on the day of the Tebow trade, he assured Sanchez that he’s their guy and the starter on this team.
For better or for worse.
“He talked to me and I basically told him that this is his team, you’re the starting quarterback. Tebow is here to help. From the words that came from coach Ryan, he told me that Tebow’s going to help us keep the drives going, keep the ball, score touchdowns and win ball games,” Holmes said.“Those were the exact words I gave to Mark, to give him that sense of security that he’s our starting quarterback and that Tebow is here to help us win as many games as he can.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.