Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The New York Jets quarterback, at least publicly, chose not to ponder his standing inside his own locker room. A year removed from their epic meltdown in Miami, where finger-pointing and me-first attitudes dissolved a once-promising 2011 season, Mark Sanchez once again finds himself in the epicenter of failure.
“I’ve just got to play better,” he said Monday night, after his five turnovers handed the win to the Tennessee Titans. “That’s all I’m worried about. Elevating my play, taking care of the football, making some better throws, and not hurting the team.”
But while his offensive teammates were quick to divert some of the postgame attention from Sanchez specifically, some defensive players tried hard to censor their frustrations. As Antonio Cromartie walked through the locker room toward the shower, he warned reporters in the room not to ask him any questions or else he’d be forced to “tell the truth.
“I’m just being real,” the cornerback added. “This (stuff has) gotta stop.”
Safety LaRon Landry, known best for his bruising hits and in-game intensity, said he couldn’t speak about Sanchez’s struggles because he plays on the other side of the ball. “So it’s up to the coaches and the offensive guys to uplift him, motivate him, have the willpower to want to be successful,” Landry said. “That’s what we do on defense.
“It also comes (down to) the willpower to want to win, to want to strive to be the best. It goes along with heart, man. You’ve got to ask yourself what’s important to you at that given time, what’s your character, who you are as a person, as an individual. And it’s going to stand out. You’re going to see which guys want it the most. As a defense, you see what we bring to the table. No matter if our back’s against the wall. We might give up a couple (plays), but at the end, we all want to win, we all want to be the best. And you can see that.”
Linebacker Calvin Pace, who finished with five tackles and a sack, said he still has confidence in Sanchez. But he was clear about the margin of error — of lack thereof — for this Jets defense, adding the unit is “the strong suit of this team.”
“It’s nerve wracking. It’s frustrating at times,” Pace said. “But we’ve had terrible games and they picked us up.”
Rex Ryan wasn’t ready to name next week’s starter after the game, but Sanchez said he’ll continue his regular routine until told otherwise.
“I just have to go in and play,” he said, and prepare like the starter and see what happens,” he said.