NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — It’s no secret that successful teams often have successful quarterbacks.
So Mark Sanchez knows that if the Jets are to avoid a repeat of last season’s disappointment, he’ll have to step it up. That means more sharp performances like Week 1 over the Bills — and less like the Week 2 stumble in Pittsburgh.
But even if the Jets starter turns into Super Sanchez, he won’t be able to do it alone.
“The quarterback has got to play well,” Sanchez said after practice Wednesday. “It’s different than, say, my rookie year, I guess, when I could have been a wild card each week. … As I’ve grown, I have to play better. I have to put us in the right play. We can’t just expect (ex-Jets running back) Thomas Jones to break a tackle and run. I can’t afford to miss checks or miss throws.
“I have to be on my game. We all do. We all have to.”
Sanchez was asked a question Wednesday about possibly demanding to the ball to try to score right before halftime against the Steelers with 57 seconds and two timeouts left. Head coach Rex Ryan said they tried to pop a run, and when that didn’t work, they decided to run out the clock.
But some thought perhaps Sanchez should’ve been more assertive with the coaches in letting him take a shot.
“It’s up to Coach,” Sanchez said. “It really is. It’s the coach’s call.”
Sanchez added that he asked what the game plan was at that moment, and the coaches made it clear that they were going in the direction they did. One reporter suggested he take charge, comparing the situation to how Peyton Manning has frequently waved off the punt team to take chances on fourth down.
“Good,” Sanchez said with a smile, brushing it off.
For the Jets’ offense to click on a consistent basis, Sanchez is clearly going to have to play more like he did in the opener against Buffalo — 19 of 27 for 266 yards and three TDs — than he did last Sunday at Pittsburgh — 10 of 27 for 138 yards and a TD, including a stretch in which he went two quarters connecting with any of his wide receivers.
New York also needs to figure out the best way to insert Tim Tebow into games, something that will likely be a topic of debate all season. Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle certainly will be planning for Tebow for Sunday’s Week 3 matchup, but some Dolphins players don’t understand what the big deal is.
“Don’t make more of it than it is,” linebacker Kevin Burnett said. “Please, come on. Tebow is going to come in for maybe five plays. If they’re up, he’s going to be in more. If they’re not up, he’s going to be in less. You figure Tebow is going to play anywhere from three to 15 plays depending on the score.
“You have a Tebow package and you have the rest of the game. But it really doesn’t change because you’ve got to stop the run.”
Ryan, who said the media won’t drive Tebow’s playing time, also suggested that the game plan isn’t based just solely on the backup quarterback coming into the game, but the others who join him on the field.
“Really the wildcat is a personnel grouping and sometimes you want to go with that personnel grouping and sometimes you don’t,” Ryan said. “I feel pretty good about it. You can play a lot of it, you can play less of it.”
Despite all that, Ryan believes it’s in the team’s best interest if they keep opponents — and everyone else — guessing about how Tebow will be used.
“The opponent, they’re not going to have any idea what we’re going to do with him,” Ryan said. “I’m certainly not going to let them know, ‘Hey, by the way, Tebow is going to play 50 snaps this week.’ I’m never going to give you a legitimate answer. I know the answer, but I’m not going to give it to you.”
That means whether Tebow is out there on the field against Miami on Sunday for three plays or 20 is anybody’s guess.
“You’ll have to see,” Sanchez said. “Tune in Sunday.”
Will Sanchez return to Week 1 form against the Fish? Be heard in the comments below!
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