A historically bad preseason gave way to a record-setting regular season opener for the New York Jets. Following an exhibition period which saw New York become the first NFL team since the 1977 Atlanta Falcons not to score a touchdown in its first three preseason contests, the Jets set a franchise mark for most points scored in a season opener, hanging up 48 points on the Buffalo Bills.
While the offensive outburst shocked both the national media and football fans alike, quarterback Mark Sanchez remained upbeat through the ups and downs of training camp.
"I'm just confident in this team," Sanchez told reporters on Sunday. "I'm confident in the coaching staff. I told everybody early in OTA's, there's a good vibe going around the building. I don't know what it is. You can't quite put your finger on it. Rex made a great comment to us. At some point this season, everybody in our locker room is going to see that we're all bleeding green. We're really playing for each other. That's the most important thing."
Sanchez leading the Jets out of the tunnel on Sunday
Sanchez and company dominated the Bills in all facets of the game in what many are calling the fourth-year gunslinger's best performance as a pro. Despite his unit's futility during the preseason, Sanchez had a hunch that things were moving in the right direction leading up to Sunday's home opener.
"I knew we were really close in the preseason," noted Sanchez's of the offense's progress. "Did I know it was 48 points? No, I didn't necessarily know that, but that's just a great day of execution. We still left some plays out there so it wasn't perfect. (We've) still got a lot of work to do but I'm really proud of our effort and the way we moved the ball today."
With plenty of doubt cast over Sanchez's ability to coexist with Wildcat quarterback Tim Tebow, the former USC Trojan put any thought of a potential quarterback controversy to bed with his spectacular outing on Sunday. Coming off a 2011 season littered with locker room turmoil and dissension, Sanchez appears determined to promote team camaraderie and selflessness this time around.
"I bought in," admitted Sanchez. "Just like everybody on the team. Not just to the Wildcat, but to the feeling of us as a team and a unit. Transcending football, we're a family. We're a tight-knit group. I knew Tim (Tebow) could come in and help us. That's just the tip of the iceberg. We've barely seen anything yet, so we've got plenty more in our grab bag of Wildcat. Tim's an explosive guy, so he can help this offense. He did a great job today".
With the Jets enjoying a sense of vindication that a dual-quarterback system could indeed work in the NFL, Sanchez refuses to allow the critics and naysayers to influence his team-first mindset.
"One game isn't the season, stated Sanchez. "It's not to prove anything to anybody else other than our team. Regardless of what the opinions are outside of our building, they don't affect us. That's the most important thing moving forward, is worrying about each other (and) caring about each other."
Tagged as a circus-type organization by the media, Gang Green took a first major step towards shedding that label with Sunday's outstanding showing.
"I know we're a special group," said Sanchez. "I've known that from the jump, but I think we're starting to realize it. It's important to keep this whole thing in perspective. It's a great way to start, it's exactly what you want in your home opener, but we'll celebrate this one for a couple more hours, then, we've got to get ready for Pittsburgh, because that's going to (be) another tough challenge (and) on the road, (it is) never an easy place to play. So, we've got a (long way) to go here."
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
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