Mark Sanchez, it turns out, has some defenders within the New York Jets’ locker room.
The responses from his offensive brethren came a day after unnamed teammates questioned his dedication and ability in a “one Jet said” New York Daily News story. The back-page of the Daily News was green with envy at the notion of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in a Jets uni. (Imagine if MetLife Stadium became “The Manning Bowl.”)
“Everything in that article is wrong,” Matt Slauson told Newsday. ”Mark is the hardest-working quarterback I've ever played with and he has so much potential. It may not look like it, but he is heading in the right direction. He's a stud. He works harder than anyone.”
In the NFL’s Year of the Quarterback, Sanchez — a GQ darling — was left in the dust in his third year in the league. Although he passed for career-best 26 touchdowns and 3,474 yards, he threw 18 interceptions and lost eight fumbles.
“I've never, ever heard anyone question his work ethic,” tight end Dustin Keller said. “I think Mark's great work ethic is something that no one can argue. I really wish that any sources that believe that to be true would step forward.”
Nick Mangold tweeted an immdiate response Wednesday, then elaborated on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 1050.
“I didn't think that anyone was sitting there and saying, 'I don't think Mark can get it done,’ ” the center told Kay. “We all believe Mark is a fantastic player for us who can win games, who has won games for us. And to have this come out really makes me question where it came from and the motive behind it.”
But, if the option were Peyton Manning?
“Shoot, I'll take Joe Montana if he had a clean bill of health,” Mangold said. “Dan Marino, I think, would be another great one. It's all speculation. Mark Sanchez is my guy. He's the one I want to go to battle with. I wouldn't be too keen on seeing that being changed.”
All of which points out the obvious: there’s a pretty wide divide in the Jets’ locker room. Which means that an adult needs to take charge. Enter Tony Sparano, who is replacing offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and will be the bad cop to Rex Ryan’s good cop.