The New York Jets went all the way to the AFC Championship game last year with a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach. Then they had one of the best off-seasons of any team in the NFL. The Jets added a former Super Bowl MVP in Santonio Holmes, they added two future Hall-Of-Famers in Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson, and they added a former All-Pro cornerback in Antonio Cromartie. After the success they had last year and the offseason they had, they looked like a team that was a legitimate Super Bowl contender. However, in the opening game on Monday Night Football against the Ravens, New York looked like anything but a Super Bowl contender.
After running their mouths all week leading up to the game, the Jets looked undisciplined, their offense gained just six first downs, and after struggling all preseason, Mark Sanchez looked like a right handed version of Matt Leinart with how much he refused to throw the ball downfield.
The Jets still have one of the best defenses in the NFL, they have one of the most talented teams in the league, and I think Mark Sanchez proved in the playoffs last year that he can be a good, solid, NFL quarterback that can make plays in the passing game, but if they want to be playing into February, Mark Sanchez is going to have to play better. 10-21 for 74 yards is just not good enough.
Mark Sanchez joined ESPN Radio in New York on the Michael Kay Show to talk about the disappointment of losing the first game, on the struggles of the offense, what he thinks contributed to the team’s loss, how he is handling the criticism that he is getting for being too conservative, and the importance of the game this weekend against New England.
On how they feel about opening the season with a loss:
“Just really disappointed. I guess that’s the best word, disappointed in the result and it just goes to show you this is an ultimate team sport and when 10 of 11 guys do it right on a few touchdowns, it won’t work that way. I think that’s what being one for 11 on third down, hurting ourselves with penalties offensively, defensively and special teams, and those kind of mistakes got us beat. We did a great job taking care of the ball minus one fumble. I thought if we win the turnover battle we would really have a chance against those guys and we did, but we just kept hurting ourselves. The best part about it is all those things we did are fixable and we definitely will. We know we have guys we can rely on to fix those mistakes and we will move on, get better, and be ready for next week.”
On the offense not having any big plays:
“Well, I think we had some big plays. We had a ball down inside the five yard line I think to Dustin (Keller) and we had an illegal shifting penalty and we gotta get guys lined up right. When we do that, we have a chance. That kinda hurt us. It was a big time vertical play, a pretty good throw, and an even better catch. We have to bring it back. Also we started some drives first and 15 and it makes it hard on Coach Schottenheimer. We all had our hand in our mistakes and Coach Schottenheimer felt like he could’ve done a little better as well and he’s not shy about that. Everybody needs to be accountable for this loss, coaches and players included and that’s the best part about this team. We know we need to look each other in the face, look each other in the mirror, and own up to these mistakes. I think we put ourselves in it as a group. Not just one play here or there or one mistake here or there. It was all of us.”
On the conservative nature of the offense:
“I think Coach knew that and we wanted to be really smart this first game. I understand where their concern might be and how they wanted to be overly cautious, but at the same time I think all of us know that we want to be able to throw the ball down the field, we have the weapons to throw the ball down the field, and we’ll definitely do that this next game. I think it will help everything. It will happen for our running game, our run action, our play action, and our drop back game. We’ll be ready to do that. It’s no sweat. It’s early in the season and not that this game didn’t mean anything but it can’t linger, it can’t affect our next performance next week. We need to be ready for the Patriots. They’re going to be great and we need to be ready to play them.”
On whether or not some of those short throws were called or if they were check downs:
“A lot of those were check downs. They played routes down the field really well. When the defense expands, it’s easy to get the ball to LT and let him run for you. I missed one on the second last play of the game. Everyone is upset about the last play that we didn’t get far enough for a first down, well if I hit that one before that play, LT is still running. He mighta crossed the 50. I missed a couple that I want back, but a lot of those plays downfield were covered up really well. It gave us a good opportunity to throw underneath and we did.”
On the importance of the game this weekend:
“Absolutely and especially having a divisional opponent, this is huge. A team that rolled on offense and defense last week and looked great. Already watching the film from the Cincinnati game and our game from last year, they’re a tough team. We know that, we’re familiar with their defensive scheme on offense, and we need to be ready to play because they’ll bring their best and we know that. It will be a good chance for us to have another good game in our home stadium and hopefully come out with a victory and I think we will.”
Listen to Mark Sanchez on ESPN Radio in New York here (Audio begins 12:30 into the podcast)