Florham Park, N.J.- Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of talk about the mood of Mark Sanchez. He doesn’t seem like his normal, laid back, care free self they say, he seems subdued. To that I say, good. It’s not that Sanchez is down on himself or depressed or even crumbling under the pressure. Clearly that’s not the case considering he has played his best football of the season as of late. But Sanchez doesn’t see it as him being subdued, he says he’s just more focused on the task at hand.
“I told you guys, I’m just focused. I’m excited, we have a great opportunity.” Sanchez said yesterday when asked why he’s been so serious (insert Batman/Joker joke here). “We’re in a good spot, but it could get better hopefully. And we have to make it get better.
“When I’m here, I’m working my butt off, and that’s important. I just try my best to rack up wins and when it’s time to have fun and goof around, you do that, and then when it’s time, you have to work.”
It’s true, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Sanchez has drastically shifted his demeanor, but you know what? It seems to be working and also, he’s not exactly alone. The rest of the team has shifted their personality as well, the loose lips that seemed to attract national attention week after week last season have tightened up and the locker room gets a lot less crowded during media availability than it did at any point last season. This, at times, appears to be a calculated effort by the players to avoid feeding the beast that is the New York media. Players who are notoriously media friendly will still talk with reporters, but you can tell they are refusing to veer very far off script. But naturally even if all 53 players are doing this, it will stand out more when the quarterback takes this approach.
Subdued or not subdued Rex Ryan likes what he has seen from his quarterback as of late.
“This is the same guy that bounced back from, what, he had five interceptions in one game his rookie year, two three-game losing streaks, and he bounced all the way back. You’re going to have those types of games.” Ryan said, “Each guy is, but he’s proven that not only can he bounce back from the fall in a week, but he’ll bounce back in the fourth quarter of a game to win. It might not be going great, but he can come back in a fourth quarter and still win a game, and he’s proved that as well.”
Sanchez has lived a crazy roller-coaster of emotions during the ups-and-downs of his three year’s here, but he has handled it in stride and with a remarkable resiliency that Ryan was talking about. Still he was hesitant when asked if this is the most comfortable he personally has felt during his time here.
“I don’t know, I think hopefully we’re just starting to hit our stride and we’re not there yet. I think that would be great for us to feel that way.” Sanchez said, “There’s still a sense of urgency, there’s still things we can clean up, and that’s everybody and it starts with me. Hopefully we’re not settling in too early.”
Take a look around the league and try and find a successful quarterback that doesn’t come across as subdued at times. Tom Brady often downplays his team’s, as well as his own, success. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t hesitate to get snippy with the reporters in Green Bay, imagine his reaction to being bombarded by the New York media. Being a quarterback means you have to take a different mental approach, you have to be a leader and demand excellence from your teammates, that can’t be achieved by looking to insert a joke in every comment (something that I personally strive for in my own life).
This year was supposed to be all about whether or not Sanchez could take the next step in his own evolution as a quarterback, if it takes a low-key demeanor to make that happen, who cares? All Jets fans need to worry about is whether their quarterback remains focused and determined to succeed and if you’re still having doubts this one quote should tell you all you need to know about Sanchez’s current mental make-up.
When a reporter asked Sanchez if it’s possible to get better than being the sixth best scoring offense, the young quarterback gave quite the Belichickian answer.
“(There are still) five spots.”
Blunt and dry, not exactly the answer reporters are looking for, but exactly what fans and teammates should want to hear. Things may be going well for the Jets and the offense right now, but they can always get better. If it takes a subdued Sanchez to reach this goal, so be it.