Remember when Tim Tebow‘s presence was supposed to light a fire under Mark Sanchez and thus make him a better quarterback? Me neither.
In a season in which everything went wrong for the Jets, Sanchez was particularly brutal, tossing 18 interceptions and just 13 touchdown passes while completing only 54.3 percent of his passes. In other words, not only did the fourth-year quarterback fail to take a step forward, but he regressed.
Sanchez is remaining optimistic about the future, though, emphasizing that the Jets could come back and turn things around in 2013.
“I had a good talk with [head coach] Rex [Ryan], and I know we’re destined for great stuff here,” Sanchez told reporters Monday. “I know we can be successful here. So that’s what I’m focused on. I’m excited to come back here and do my very best.”
It’s unclear what direction the Jets will go in for a quarterback next season, but Sanchez’s bad contract will make it difficult for the team to move him. Still, it’s obvious that something needs to change, and the Jets need to receive more consistent quarterback play — whether it be provided by Sanchez or someone else.
Sanchez’s numbers through his first four years in the league are less than stellar. He has 68 touchdowns to 69 interceptions, and his completion percentage sits at a disappointing 55.1 percent. Not only has he not become a playmaker, but he’s struggling to be a game manager — a role that helped a defense-first Jets squad reach back-to-back AFC Championship Games in Sanchez’s first two seasons.
“When it’s not going your way it’s made to be a lot worse from the outside,” Sanchez said. “When it is going your way, you win nine games and get in the playoffs your rookie year it’s like you’re the next Joe Montana and you can do anything and you’re the best in the world. That’s just the way it goes when it’s going well. You gotta do your best to stay even keel.”
It’s becoming harder and harder for the Jets’ organization, especially owner Woody Johnson, to remain on an even keel. Since those back-to-back conference championship appearances, the Jets have missed out on the playoffs the past two seasons, going 14-18 in that span.
Sanchez still thinks the Jets, who finished the season 6-10, can take away some positives from this year, even if he wasn’t one of them.
“There are a lot of things to be proud of: Guys going to the Pro Bowl. Shonn Greene rushing for 1,000 yards for the second straight year,” Sanchez said. “But in my opinion, I underachieved and didn’t play the way I’m capable of playing. And unfortunately that led to some losses and things like that so I’ve just got to get better, take some time and get away from the game for a little bit, then come back strong next year.”
The question Sanchez is now facing, though, is just what exactly does “the way I’m capable of playing” mean?