It doesn’t have the look or feel of the Mark Sanchez’s best training camp, but the New York Jets embattled quarterback is convinced he’s turned the corner in 2013.
“I feel good about my performance and the camp I put together," stated Sanchez. “It’s definitely the best camp I’ve had.”
In reality Sanchez is coming off a shaky outing against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a game during which he tossed an errant end zone interception and sailed a pass high and out of bounds to negate a scoring chance in the waning moments of the first half. With rookie signal-caller Geno Smith sidelined for Saturday’s preseason contest due to an injured ankle, Sanchez missed an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the starting job.
Now the door is slightly ajar for Smith to give Sanchez a run for his money, and the Jets upcoming preseason game against the New York Giants could be the final chapter in Gang Green’s quarterback race. With the 2013 regular season on the horizon, New York is ready to move on from a disappointing 2012 campaign.
According to Sanchez, his offensive unit is vastly superior to last year’s nightmarish version.
“I think as a team we have taken a step forward, as an offense for sure,” Sanchez noted. “For an offense to work well it starts with the quarterback, so I feel like I’m playing alright and I just got to keep improving and you know, get ready to roll.”
A major reason for Sanchez’s progress can be attributed to Jets’ first year offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and his West Coast offense.
“I think the system in general just lends itself to quarterbacks trying to get the ball out quick, taking our shots down field and getting wide outs and skill position players in the right places to distort a defense,” Sanchez said.
New York’s offensive line was bolstered this offseason adding guards Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman during free agency and drafting guard Brian Winters to add quality depth. Sanchez has benefited from a resurgent ground and pound game; which was nowhere to be found last season.
“So it gives us a chance to really use the whole playbook and not have to throw it every time, (and) keep the defense off balance,” noted Sanchez on the importance of a potent running game.
This year Sanchez is playing for his NFL life, but admits that his approach hasn’t changed despite the pressure and scrutiny from outside the locker room.
“Competing like I always do whether Geno is here or we draft someone else or we draft another position, another player, I’m still competing so it’s no big deal.”