Sanchez thinks he can be a top ten QB

Few players have come under more scrutiny than New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. New York's fourth year gunslinger is taking the onus on him to perform this upcoming season.

With the weight of a city on his shoulders Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez isn't backing down from the challenge. Entering his fourth year in the NFL, it could very well be sink or swim time for Sanchez in the Big Apple. Coming off a disappointing 8-8 regular season, New York is counting on its ‘franchise' gunslinger to carry the team back to title contention. Following consecutive AFC championship appearances in his first two seasons as a pro, Sanchez endured a rollercoaster campaign last year missing out on the playoffs and absorbing the blame for the Jets' shortcomings.

With his sights set on taking the next step this upcoming season, the former USC Trojan standout is striving to rise to the league's elite class of quarterbacks.

"Sure, you have to think that," said Sanchez of cracking the NFL's top ten quarterback rankings. "You have to play like that and as soon as you get on the field, you have to be the baddest guy out there. The toughest, the best, the most accurate and you have to want to win. I think we have a lot of guys like that, so that's good for us."

Living in the shadow of Tim Tebow-Mania this summer, Sanchez is quietly developing the leadership and poise that he failed to exhibit down the stretch in 2011. While Sanchez is focusing on limiting his mistakes this time around, New York's No. 6 is working on his demeanor in the huddle to keep the spirits of his teammates high regardless of the situation.

"I think a lot of it just comes with experience, remarked Sanchez of becoming a leader. "Being in those situations before, you know when you throw an interception in camp (that) you have to practice what you're going to do during the season. If you start pouting and putting your head down during practice, it's going to happen at MetLife Stadium or somewhere else on the road. If you look away, gather yourself for a couple seconds, come right back, inspire the guys in the huddle, let them know you've made a mistake and move on, that will be the habit. That's what I try to do."

Sanchez came under fire last year for not commanding the offense and failing to get his teammates on same page. With former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer out of the mix in New York, Sanchez is leaving little doubt as to who's in charge of the huddle this year.

"When you come in the huddle, not to be selfish here, but this is my huddle," Sanchez told reporters at training camp. "Don't talk, name your position quickly and let's go get lined up. That takes a little bit of leadership, a little bit of experience and it's not the easiest thing to do. It's not necessarily in my genetic makeup to start yelling at guys, but there's a time and a place to give somebody a hug … and there are times when you have to get on guys."

Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for

You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland By:

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