Rex Ryan uses Mark Brunell to try to motivate Mark Sanchez

November 23, 2011

Mark Brunell, starting QB? No. 8 has been holding for kicker Nick Folk. (DOUG BENZ Reuters)

Ryan used the tactic a year ago and it jarred Sanchez out of his funk and into a string of solid performances. This week, with the 5-5 Jets’ Super-Bowl-or-bust season in jeopardy, the coach used Brunell, the 41-year-old back-up, again to deliver a swift kick to the backside of his starting quarterback.

“You know me. If I think something’s working, we’ll go with it,” Ryan said (via the New York Daily News). “If we played better when we did it last year, then I will do that. ... I don’t think it really matters, but for some reason he got a little hot under the collar and gave that super-competitive fighting spirit that we know he has. It seems to work.”

Sanchez said in a magazine interview over the summer that he was so angry over the tactic last season that he wanted to fight Ryan. This time, he seems a little more mellow — which is probably smart, given the way he’s playing. “That’s the coach’s decision,” Sanchez said. “I’m just trying to control what I can and that’s improve, make better decisions with the football and taking the reps I have and doing well with them.”

Ryan told it a little differently. “[Sanchez is] not happy with me,” Ryan said. “He hasn't talked to me — for real. He has not said one word.”

The rest of the Jets, Brunell included, weren’t enthusiastically buying it. “They got a special relationship,” said Brunell, who’s had a special relationship with Sanchez himself. With financial problems that have landed him in bankruptcy court, he has been holding for kicker Nick Folk. “They got a pretty cool bond, one that I think is pretty special ... one that’s going to be around for a long time.”

Ryan admitted, “I’m not going to take him out. He’s our quarterback. But don’t even write that. Let him think it.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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