Sanchez Expects New Look Defense

Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez makes amends for his unusual press conference earlier in the week. Sanchez vows to get it together and the challenge ahead from Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense.

There were no notes, no crib sheets in Mark Sanchez's hands as he strode to the podium Wednesday.

That's just as well, considering the test he really needs to ace will be administered Sunday in Foxboro, Mass.

Three days after his odd post-game news conference Sunday, when he gave a rambling opening statement in which he referred to notes he had scribbled moments earlier, Sanchez met again with reporters.

"I just changed things up a little bit," Sanchez said when asked to explain his previous public appearance. "I thought I had everything figured out, of course, as a 23-year-old rookie would, but (it was) probably not the best way to go about it. It didn't go over very well so, trial and error and hopefully a one-time mistake.

"I answer the questions and you guys ask the questions," he added. "That's the rule. I'm not here to do your job just like you're not here to do mine. That wasn't the most respectful thing to you guys and ladies."

While it was bizarre, Sanchez at least didn't leave without taking questions, so it wasn't really a major faux pas.

Certainly Sanchez did the right thing Wednesday by showing plenty of respect for New England coach Bill Belichick, whose defense Sanchez will be trying to decipher.

In the first meeting this season, a 16-9 Jets' victory on Sept. 20, Sanchez was 14-for-22 for 163 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. But he faced a fairly vanilla defense by New England standards, as the Patriots mostly played coverage and rarely blitzed. Call it Belichick 101, but it probably won't resemble the advanced version Sanchez likely will see this time.

"I definitely respect Coach Belichick and what he did the first game," Sanchez said, adding that New England's game plan Sunday "could be something similar with a couple of tweaks here and there. It might be a whole new approach. ... They obviously have the coaching to change things up and be sharp, so we need to expect another great effort as always from a Bill Belichick defense and anticipate as much as we can. We'll probably have to adjust on the fly."

Sanchez's passer rating is 66.5, and he has nine touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. He believes he must be consistent during games to improve those numbers.

"I felt like these last three or four games I am really starting to get in the groove at some point in the game," he said. "I'd like to do it a little bit earlier and not start quite as slow. Even if it is a slow start, the most important thing is not to make those mistakes early. You can have a slow start, go three-and-out a couple of times and punt or get a field goal or something, but when you throw the first play of the game to the other team, they go down and score in five plays it might as well have been a pick six. You can't afford to do that. I did feel in the last couple of games I've really gotten into the groove towards the end of the game when it really counted."

But can he ever get into a groove in such a hostile environment as New England? He and the Jets will find out Sunday.



--Two days after he had three screws inserted into his right wrist, SS Jim Leonhard sat out practice Wednesday. He rode the stationary bike with his right arm in a sling. He is not expected to play against New England on Sunday, although coach Rex Ryan stopped short of ruling him out of the game.

"He's one tough kid," Ryan said of Leonhard. "If there's any way possible of him playing, I wouldn't be shocked." But Ryan conceded, "He's in a sling, so it doesn't look real good."

Eric Smith would start in Leonhard's place. Smith has played in extra-defensive back packages.

"It's an opportunity to get out there and get more (plays) and show people what I can do," Smith said. "It's not like I'm just coming cold off the bench."

Smith called the defensive signals in practice Wednesday, but Ryan said linebacker David Harris would wear the helmet with the headset and handle that duty Sunday. Leonhard has been calling the signals.

--Wednesday was the Jets' first day of practice without defensive line coach Kerry Locklin, let go Monday in what Ryan termed a "mutual decision" and replaced by Jeff Weeks and Chuck Smith.

"I think today was our best day out there," DE Marques Douglas said. "(The) communication was excellent, we worked as a group (and) our tempo was great."

When asked if he was surprised at the shakeup, Douglas replied, "It's kind of something you don't think about, because we as players are supposed to play, and the coaches and GM (Mike Tannenbaum) make that decision.

"You hate to see a guy lose his job," Douglas added, "but at the same time, you know that Rex and Mike are going to do the things that are in the best interests of the team. We're here to play and play hard because we know if we don't do our job we could be one of those (people) out the door also."

--Coach Rex Ryan brought a box of tissues to the lectern Wednesday, a takeoff on how he cried during a meeting with his players Monday morning. Obviously Ryan has lost games, but not his sense of humor.

But he didn't back off from what he did.

"This is who I am," he said. "I've been this way. You can go back and ask anybody that I've coached in Baltimore. I'm going to be myself. I'm man enough to be me. It's more passion than it is anything else. ... I have a strong belief in myself and this football team."

"He knows what we have in this locker room and when we're living up to our potential and when we're not," Douglas said. "When we don't come through for him, it's heartbreaking to see him not get what he deserves.

"There is no flinching on our part," Douglas added. "When you have a good, solid offensive line like we have, we feel good about our chances. These guys have been moving guys around all year. Why not now? We are going to make that claim that we are (a) big and bad team. Why not (this) game?"

BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Reported number of hits on QB Tom Brady by the Jets in the first meeting this season, which they won 16-9. Oddly, the Jets never sacked Brady in that game, but they did pressure him into 23-for-47 passing, an unusually low completion rate for the superstar.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'll be true to myself. I'm always going to be, and I've said that from Day One." -- Coach Rex Ryan on crying in front of his players Monday.

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