NEW YORK (WFAN) — Mark Sanchez has heard the chatter.
The rift. Tebow-mania. Regression, regression, regression.
The Jets quarterback is ready to start fresh in 2012 — and prove his doubters wrong.
“Our mental approach to this next season has already started,” Sanchez told WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on Friday morning. “We’ve learned great lessons from last year and we’re ready to move on.”
Listen: Sanchez with Boomer & Carton
Reports of tension between Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes came to a head after the Jets’ disappointing 8-8 season. Many wondered if the two could co-exist, and some even called for Holmes to hit the road. But they’ve mended their relationship this offseason, and Sanchez said it feels like “we were when (Santonio) first arrived” from Pittsburgh.
“It got blown up way bigger than it needed to,” Sanchez said. “We both acknowledged that right away, laughed about it and then started moving on. And once we started working out, things have been great.”
The rift took a back seat in March when the Jets pulled off a stunning trade with Denver for high-profile backup quarterback Tim Tebow.
Sanchez said admitted didn’t find out about the Tebow swap until after the deal was sealed. The trade itself may have been surprising, but he said the Jets absolutely shouldn’t feel like they owed him a phone call beforehand.
“I was a little curious. I didn’t know exactly what was going on,” said Sanchez. “But once I talked to Mike Tannenbaum and Rex (Ryan) and Mr. (Woody) Johnson, they assured me that this was good for the team, and they thought it’d be good for all of us.”
The budding quarterback controversy began before Tebow’s plane even touched down in New Jersey. Sanchez said having a backup push you and elevate your play as a starter isn’t exactly a new concept.
But having such a versatile guy at No. 2? Yeah, that’s pretty special.
“You’re always gonna have a backup quarterback, and this guy can do so many other things,” he said. “So from a business standpoint, if you’re running a team and your backup quarterback can do five other jobs, I mean, from a business standpoint you’re saving money — and it’s a solid move. Just like Brad Smith used to do for us. I mean, he returned kicks and punts and did everything. And he could play quarterback.”
Sanchez said his relationship with Tebow “has been great so far.” Coming off a regression in his third season with New York, Tebow-mania could even take the pressure off the “San-chise.”
“You know, we had the media in there (Thursday), and usually my locker is just swarming with people,” said Sanchez. “And yesterday I saw (everyone) at Tim’s locker, I was like, ‘Man, I might be able to sneak in here and sneak out, they won’t even ask me a question!’ ”
The offensive line had to answer plenty of them Thursday about their troubles protecting Sanchez last season, especially right tackle Wayne Hunter. The quarterback said he should take a fair share of the blame, too.
“We all had a rough year,” said Sanchez. “There’s no question. We all could have done better. You know, turning the ball over as many times as I did doesn’t help, and holding on to the ball too long sometimes makes those guys up front look bad. So, you know, there’s a give-and-take there. You’ve gotta be fair about it.”
But 2011 is over and done with. Turn the page. The NFL’s regular-season schedule will start anew in September, albeit likely without any lofty promises from the Jets’ boisterous head coach.
“It’s an exciting season coming up,” said Sanchez, “and I’m ready for the challenge.”
What are your expectations for Sanchez in 2012? Will he step up and prove his doubters wrong? Sound off in the comments!