Jets: Sanchez 'May' Be The Guy

The powers that be in New York gave QB Mark Sanchez their support, but with conditions. Is it the right thing to do?

Owner: 'We think Mark is our guy'

   Jets owner Woody Johnson defended quarterback Mark Sanchez but said the team's commitment to him won't prevent them from investigating other options.

   Johnson, in a meeting with the team's beat writers, said wide receiver Santonio Holmes' future with the team was also secure. Holmes signed a five-year, $45 million deal in July as an unrestricted free agent but was criticized and accused of quitting by teammates following a Week 17 loss at Miami that eliminated the Jets from playoff contention.

   "They've won a lot of games together, and one is good for the other," Johnson said, per the Newark Star-Ledger. "Santonio makes the quarterback a lot better, and vice versa. So they have a good reason to iron this thing out. I think they can do it."

   Johnson said he has a lot of confidence in Sanchez but stopped short of naming him the Jets' starting quarterback, saying there is "no such thing as 100 percent" certainty in the NFL.

   Sanchez has been questioned by anonymous teammates and running back LaDainian Tomlinson told Showtime's "Inside the NFL" that he was "pampered" by the coaching staff.

   Sanchez was asked to take on more responsibility in the offense by since-replaced coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, but his production -- and seven interceptions in the final three games -- might indicate he's not ready to shoulder that extra burden.

   He threw 26 touchdowns with 18 interceptions but completed only 56.7 percent of his pass attempts. The Jets lost five of their final eight games and went 2-6 on the road.

   "With Mark, you have a 25-year-old quarterback that you can develop," Johnson said. "You can have a quarterback for 10 years with a guy like this. These guys are not available every day. We have a lot of confidence in Mark, we think he's our guy. We're blessed we have a guy that we feel can climb the ladder and get a lot better. He can do everything, he's got the work ethic, and he's got all the ingredients in place to be a great quarterback."

   Directly asked if Johnson was saying Sanchez was the starter barring injury, he said: "Barring whatever."

   The rumors linking Peyton Manning to the Jets that began when players under contract with the team said they would love to have Manning didn't go untouched by the group.

   "I'm not going to ever tell you guys what we may or may not do," he said. "Our job and my job is to, for the fans, take this team to the very top level. I've said that from the beginning, and I have a lot of confidence we can do it. So we're going to look at everything, we're going to look at every possibility, and that's what you want us to do."

Sanchez, Holmes work to patch relationship

   As Bill Belichick chases one more ring for Rex Ryan not to kiss, two of Ryan's New York Jets appear ready to "kiss and make up."

   In Indianapolis for a promotional appearance at Super Bowl XLVI, the Jets head coach told Rich Cimini of that quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes have spoken by phone to repair their relationship, and are even considering taking a full weekend to work out their differences.

   "I'm not sure if they're going to or not, but that's something they mentioned," Ryan said. "I know they had mentioned that to me."

   Sanchez and Holmes have been central figures in the postseason meltdown of the Jets locker room, with a season-long rift going public in very ugly fashion after the Jets finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. It was reported after the season that Holmes refused to attend Sanchez's quarterback-receivers meetings in the days leading up to their final game, a 19-17 loss to Miami that cost the Jets a shot at a playoff berth.

   "Look," Ryan said, "we were all disappointed at the way the season went. That's one thing we have in common. We also have a burning desire to win, to right the ship. The previous season, they had great chemistry. There's enough common ground to bring them back."

   News of a possible reconciliation between Holmes and Sanchez comes just days before the Jets have to make a decision on Holmes' future with the team. If the star wide receiver is still on the roster by Wednesday, his guaranteed salary for 2012 will increase from $7.75 million to $15 million.

   Despite the hefty price tag and postseason controversy, Ryan is certain that Holmes will remain a Jet in the fall.

   "That's not going to happen," he said of Holmes' possible release.

   Overall, Ryan is confident that he can restore order to the Jets' locker room in 2012 and improve the team's chemistry on the field.

   "I feel great about where I think we can go and how we can pull this team back together," Ryan said.

Locker Room Not THAT Bad

  --Jets' owner Woody Johnson doesn't think the Jets' locker room was as bad as veteran free agent-to-be RB LaDainian Tomlinson characterized it last week.

   In an interview aired on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," Tomlinson said the atmosphere in the Jets' locker room during the 2011 season was "as bad as I've been around."

   Johnson, speaking to reporters on Jan. 19 for the first time since the end of the Jets' disappointing season, said he respects Tomlinson, but added, "I don't think the whole locker room was toxic. I think there were clearly a few players that had conflicts. ... Would you love to have total harmony? Maybe. But maybe it's good to have a little bit of disharmony also. But they have to care about each other."

   A big rift appears to be between QB Mark Sanchez and moody WR Santonio Holmes. Johnson acknowledged that but said, "they've won a lot of games together and one is good for the other. Santonio makes the quarterback a lot better and vice versa. So they have a good reason to iron this thing out and I think they can do it."

   As for Sanchez, who was quite inconsistent during the Jets' 8-8 season, Johnson said, "We have a lot of confidence in Mark. We think he's our guy. ... He's got the work ethic and has all the ingredients in place to be a great quarterback."

   But when asked if he could say with certainty Sanchez will be the starter in 2012, Johnson responded, "there's no such thing as 100 percent," but added, "barring whatever, yes."

   As for pursuing a quarterback such as Indianapolis' Peyton Manning, should he become available, Johnson didn't mention Manning by name. But he said, "I'm not going to ever tell you guys (reporters) what we may or may not do. ... We're going to look at every possibility."

   Johnson agreed with Tomlinson that Sanchez could use a viable backup to push him.

Sanchez Lazy?

   --In a report in the New York Daily News, unnamed Jets said quarterback QB Mark Sanchez was "lazy" and "coddled," and some even advocated the potential acquisition of Peyton Manning.

   Former Jets right tackle Damien Woody, now an analyst for ESPN, was asked about all this when he came to the Giants' complex to cover that team, which is still alive in the playoffs.

    Sanchez "needs to pick up his play," Woody told reporters outside the Giants' practice facility. "I wouldn't call him lazy, but I do think there are certain things about Mark and the organization that need to change. I think the organization does baby him and they definitely need to bring in a viable backup ... to really provide that competition. With competition, either you're going to rise, or you're going to just crumble.

   "You bring in a viable backup and just let it play out and we'll see which Mark Sanchez shows up after that."

   As for the unnamed players, Woody said, "I think when you go 8-8 and miss the playoffs, and you have an open policy to allow your players to speak their minds, this is what happens. I'm not saying Rex's position is wrong, but this is the flip side. When you have success, it's great, but when it's not going well, this is what happens. Now you're seeing the ugly side to it.

   "I think that's bad. I really do," Woody said of the anonymous criticism. "My whole thing is I have something to get off my chest, I'm going to go right to the source, right to the guy and really express that. I think when you get into taking these types of shots at a guy through the media, and you're scared to put your name on it, that just speaks badly of your character as a player."

   Two current Jets said the same thing.

   Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold responded to the story on Twitter by calling it "false" and saying the unnamed sources should "man up and put your name to it."

   "It is definitely really disheartening that some players are coming out and want their names protected and all that, and they're talking bad about our team and organization," left guard Matt Slauson said to the Associated Press. "That isn't how it's supposed to be done. All I hope for them is that they stay anonymous because things won't end well for them if that ever comes out. Bad-mouthing the team and the organization, that could be grounds for losing their jobs. I'm not saying anything will be done, but it would be bad to know exactly who it was because I wouldn't be able to look that guy in the eye the same way again.

   "Mark is the hardest-working quarterback I've ever worked with," Slauson added. "I mean, he is there all day long. He doesn't have an outside life, I'm telling you. His whole life is about winning and improving the team. He cares so much and you can see it every day. I really do think he is a great player."

   --Jets right guard Brandon Moore was added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster as a replacement for the Patriots' Brian Waters, who will play in the Super Bowl.

   Moore, who was the second alternate for the AFC team, will make his first Pro Bowl appearance.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "It is a strange time right now, but I'm excited about him. I know he loves to run the ball and he's a demanding coach, and it'll be interesting to see, but I think a lot of guys will be excited, too." -- LG Matt Slauson to the Associated Press on the hiring of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator.

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