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QBs: Be Excited, Be Competitive, Have Fun

Posted May 23, 2013

Transcripts of Mark Sanchez's and Geno Smith's news conferences in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room following the Jets' midday OTA practice Wednesday afternoon:


On the first few days of OTAs…

Two days in a row I thought we looked pretty good. Offense and defense, both at times, looked great. We're trying to be as consistent as possible. I think I spent about 95 percent of the practice today talking to Marty [Mornhinweg], going through the reps, talking through them. He’s like, “I love what you're doing, making good decisions, there's just a couple in there we have to cut out.” So a couple of those throws I want back, and of all people, "Snacks" [Damon Harrison, who had an interception]. That's your worst nightmare.

But just trying to make a play, that’s one of those things, pull the ball down and run. But shaking the rust off a little bit, getting back in the swing of things, especially with a lot of young guys. We have a bunch of guys down. It’s a good opportunity for these young guys to get looks, to get some stuff on film. Now it’s our job as quarterbacks to get used to them and bring them along. Part of the process, part of the growing pains, with a lot of new stuff going on.

On the challenge of working with new players and making mistakes…

You're cognizant of it. You can see it on the film. It's not one of those things, like you said, people see on the outside. But I’ve got to be confident in what I'm doing, know that I'm making the right decisions, putting the ball in the right spot. If the guy is there or not there, I can't fix that. I have to be on my game, and worry about me and trust that the coaches and everybody will see that and they will.

On what impact OTA practices will have on naming a starter…

I think everything we're doing has something to do with it, whether it's in the weightroom, classroom, these practices, especially in these team-like settings. I think everything is being evaluated, and that's fine.

On if it’s fair to name a starting quarterback before the start of training camp…

I have no idea. That's something that Marty and Rex will deal with.

On if they need to name a starter before training camp…

To get more reps in camp? I have no idea. Depends on their schedule.

On being in a competitive environment…

I don't know if it feels different. I'm competing against the defense. I'm competing to make plays, get first downs. It's not like Geno [Smith] is on the other side of the field and we're throwing the ball against each other. I don't really think about it that way. I played long enough now where I don't really worry about the quarterback on the other side of the field or the quarterback in competition with you. It doesn't really bother me at all.

On if he can block out the competition…


On worrying about his status if he throws an interception…

I mean, I'll be able to look at the film and know how the practice went and take the coaching. But it's not like I threw a pick, the day is over, I lost. Not even close. You can't play a game like that, and you think like that. You'll just get yourself into trouble. It won't be good.

On if Coach Ryan is more involved with the defense this season…

I think that's kind of the way it's been. He's a defensive coach. He's the head coach, but, it’s tough to say.

On if Coach Ryan was more involved with the offense at this point last season…

I don't think so. I don't think he's been too involved in the offense since day one. He's more of a defensive guy. That's just the way some teams are.

On having a stronger supporting cast around him than he did last season…

Yeah, and we're still looking for guys to step up into those roles. We're looking at a lot of young guys right now, like we talked about. With some of these guys down at the wide receiver spot, who is going to step up? If you can make plays for us, you can be that third, fourth, fifth wide receiver we're looking at. This is a great opportunity to take all those reps. We're still finding our way, working our way through this thing, building a team. Hopefully, by the time we get to Cortland and come out of Cortland we’ll be ready to roll.

On Stephen Hill

Hopefully we get him back as soon as possible. We'd love to see him. Wide receivers make a big jump between that first and second year or second and third year. Hopefully we’re leaning closer to the first and second.

On what Mornhinweg is like when you make a mistake…

He's pretty straight to the point: “Hey, let's move on.” He might bring it up again, only if it bothers him, if you make a bad read or he knows you can throw the ball better in a certain spot, or even if you complete it and it’s good, it looks good on the outside but it might not be the exact look he wants. He's pretty consistent that way.

But I really feel like he understands his position, he understands that no matter what happens you have to bounce back, good, bad or indifferent. He's just cognizant of that. He makes sure he's coaching a specific thing, whether it's your footwork, read, throw, and then let’s move on, let’s get the next one. “Let me see your tempo, your attitude, keep rolling, keep firing these guys up, keep leading.” That's invaluable. He's learned that I'm sure over the many years he's coached. It's nice to have that.

On if you can tell Mornhinweg is a former quarterback…

He talks like he's been around this game forever, and he has. He's one of those guys who is just a lifer. He's got his family at home, his social life, and all that, but he's all about ball. When you install a play, he'll talk about the entire decade of the 1990s, this is what a lot of defenses played to this, and now in the 2000s and today, this is what we're seeing a lot of on this play. One, I never heard that before, it's pretty awesome. Two, it's special to have that kind of knowledge. It's good. He gives us everything he knows.

On doing things differently in warmups and drills…

We have a bunch of drills. Between him and Coach Lee, they could write a book longer than a dictionary on drills. It's good stuff that comes in those team-like scenarios, it comes up in games, whether it's a fundamental throw, throwing hot on a play-action, running out on your own on a naked, screen, where he wants the ball on a specific shoulder, up field shoulder as opposed to a backfield shoulder. Every drill you can think of. And between him and Coach Lee, they got it all. So it's pretty good.

On if Mornhinweg has ever popped in old 49ers tape…

We haven't seen anything yet. He's talked about getting some film out on himself. I don't know if we have the technology [laughter].

On the dynamic of the quarterback room with Geno Smith…

He’s been great. He's been working hard. If there's something that Coach Lee or I see, anything like that, we do our best to help. If he ever has a question, I'm right there.

On if Smith has had any questions…

Not a ton. He works hard. He's studied a lot. With the rookies' schedule right now, they're doing a lot of different stuff than we are. They're here a lot longer in the day with the coaches specifically. I'm kind of doing stuff on my own with Greg or whatever just because of schedule. I'm sure in camp it will be a lot different. We’ll be together a lot more.

On if he agrees with Joe Namath that he will be better this season…

Of course. I just feel like this coaching staff is really going to get the best out of me. Just rededicating yourself to the game, rededicating yourself to your preparation, just being excited about this system and what it can do for a quarterback. I think just in these early stages, we strung together a couple good days of OTAs. We’ve just got to keep it rolling, stay positive, and keep improving. I like our attitude, I like the coaching we've received so far and I think it’s only going to continue to grow and get better.

On if last season’s system hampered him at all…

I don't know about that. Each system has its own pros and cons. A lot of that stuff is timing. There are a million things that come into play. At the end of the day, I just have to worry about what I can control, just come into work excited, competitive, and have fun.

On working on his footwork…

I'm trying to quicken things up, anticipate some of the throws, really shorten my stride, get the ball out quick. Just stay on top of the ball and anticipate some windows and things like that. I think it really lends itself to this system where you're right through your progression, right through your read, it’s down to the back or you’re running forward and can make a throw. Coach Lee has been hammering us on footwork, getting away from center, and then getting back in the pocket, climbing the pocket. It's an ongoing process, ongoing art form. If you ask Coach Lee, it feeling like it's an art and you have to be dedicated to it.

On watching every snap even when he isn’t taking them…

Absolutely. If nothing else, just watch the defense, watch how guys are covering things. A lot of the reps that he's taking with some of those wideouts in the second group or whatever, those guys could be in with me like that. I have to see how certain guys are running routes, where they're going to be.

On the new offense…

I think it’s a quarterback-friendly offense, Marty has so much experience. He, together with David Lee, all they want is quarterback success and they know an offense can go as far as the quarterback takes it. There are other things that come into play, but the quarterback has to be sharp. With this system, whether it's a straight-up progression read, or a specific high-low or an oblique stretch type read, those things are happening fast, we all have to be on the same page. It looks like for the most part guys are into it, excited. It's just a good vibe going on right now. I like what Marty has brought. I like what Coach Lee has brought. I'm excited.

On his interaction with Smith…

Pretty normal. Everybody that I've been around has a lot of respect for each other, knows, how difficult the position can be at times, how nice it is to have guys that are all in your corner. Competitive but respectful. That's the way it is across the board, whether it's him or Greg [McElroy] or Matty Simms. It's good.

On how important OTAs are if a starting quarterback will be named before training camp…

Every rep is important. I think we just got to continue to build on a lot of the good things, eliminate some of the negative plays, then get used to some of the young guys rolling in right now. We've got a lot of guys down. It’s a huge opportunity for those young guys to step up, make plays, become that third, fourth, fifth receiver for this team. Everything we're doing across the board, it's highlighted by the quarterback position obviously, but offensive, defensive linemen, defensive backs, running backs, linebackers, tight ends, everybody is being evaluated, whether it's in a workout, classroom, cafeteria, on the field. So all these things are very important and guys are treating it that way. We’re serious about it. We really care about it. You can feel it in the building.

On critiquing other quarterbacks between snaps…

I mean, we pretty much let Coach Lee do that. If one guy has a question, we're always available, any of the quarterbacks in the room. That's kind of the way it is. But the quarterback coach does the coaching and everybody else listens.

On his feedback about ball security…

Marty and I talked about it. One of them to Snacks, of all people, I was so ticked off [laughter]. But he's happy. He's like, bounce back, come back after a mistake. He said, honestly, 95 percent of the practice is exactly what I want to see. There's a couple throws in there you want to get back. You're working with some new guys, I understand that, just anticipate where they're going to be, put the ball on them. If they're not there, you're going to know when you watch the film. Just keep working, plugging through it.

This is the time, you have to shake off the rust, adjust, and develop chemistry with some of the new guys. Those things happen. But how are you going to bounce back tomorrow, how are you going to play the next play and keep moving the team down the field.

On talking to Mornhinweg after practice…

That's the way he is. He's passionate about it. He's excited. Even when you make a mistake, he understands the psyche of a quarterback and how important it is for you to shake off that bad play and bounce right back the next play. As much as he's coaching you, he gets directly to the point; it's the footwork, the read, the decision, the throw. Then it's “Hey, let's move on, let’s go, let’s get the next play. I want to see you execute.”

He does just the right balance I think of coaching or yelling or whatever it's going to be in one spot, and then at the end, “Hey, man, let's get back in there and let’s do this right.” And then when you have a good play, he's not an over-the-top, jumping-up-and-down, somersaults kind of guy. He’s like, “That was a hell of a play, now move on to the next one. Let's string two together.” He's got an awareness of the quarterback position and really understands.

On Mornhinweg being different than other coaches he’s had…

Marty is one of the best around. He's been around this game so long, he understands this position and how important it is just to get to the next play, good, bad or indifferent. Touchdown, interception, safety, long run, long throw, throw away, sack, doesn't matter. Just get right back into the game. Coach Lee says the same thing. Your mind has to be like a steel trap. Nothing can get in there, nothing can affect it, and you have to just keep rolling.

On having two positive coaches…

Not just being positive, but both of them together, they're dedicated, coaching you on every single play. There's not one play that goes by that they don't have a comment, critique, whether it's good, bad, whatever happens. Even if you have nothing to do on the play, they're snapping it directly to the running back, how fast did you get out and get lined up, were you off the ball or on the ball, did you execute it right, did you call the play right in the huddle. It's an ongoing thing. That's the way your mind has to work at this position. It's nice having that tandem there coaching you.

On laughing on the play where he went wide right…

I didn’t have time, I was out of breath, Coach Lee has us sprinting out there. We got to get up and get set. That's all I'm thinking. Get up and get set.

On what he thinks when he throws an interception…

It's not an all-or-nothing play. You have to be true to it, understand what happened, whether somebody is supposed to be there or you're supposed to throw it in a different spot, you're too early, too late, whatever it is. Get to the truth of it immediately, get to the next play, move on, evaluate at the end of the day. But you can't think like that, like it's an all-or-nothing throw. You'll lose your mind before you get up to get this thing.

On if last season prepared him for this…

This seems more like what I experienced in college, or my rookie year, just competing hard. Not worrying about anything on the outside. Just coming in, playing your very best, doing your best to move the team down the field. Smiling as much as you can. Having a good time playing ball, playing the game you love. It's nice. It's fun. I can't imagine being anywhere else.


On how comfortable he is learning the playbook…

My head is not spinning as much as it was. There's still a lot to be learned. This is only the beginning. I'm continuing to learn and continuing to stay on it.

On the quarterback competition…

The competition is great. Mark [Sanchez], Greg [McElroy], Matt [Simms], all great guys. On the field, great competitors. We push one another. We're out there trying to perfect our craft all together. And we learn from Coach Lee [QBs coach David Lee] It's great to be out there.

On if competition is good for everyone in the end…

Yes, I think competition is only going to make all of us better. You'll only see all of us improving day to day. We just have to stay on it, keep competing and do our jobs.

On how being more comfortable with the playbook affects him on the field…

Well, the more you get it down, as far as the playbook goes, as far as your reads, your depth and your footwork, the more you're able to go out there and react off instinct, not think so much about I got to put my foot here and have to do this amount of steps on this play. Playing against this great defense, those guys are fast, they fly around quick. You can't do too much thinking out there, you have to react. The more I stay on top of it, the better I'll be. It's just a matter of continuing to get those reps.

On if he feels like he can be the starting QB for this team right away…

I can't set my mind on that. My only option is to focus on what I have here now. That's good competition between all these guys. That's what I'm doing.

On if he is getting comfortable with the receivers…

We’re getting there. Like I said, it's only the beginning. I’ve only been here for about a month now. It's going to take a lot more time, a lot more reps. I'm pretty sure we're going to get there.

On getting to know his new teammates…

Those guys are great, the rookies guys coming in. We have a bunch of humble guys, a bunch of hard-working guys. We all get along very well. Easy-going guys, easy-going group. Guys are laid back in the hotel, the locker room. The vets have done a great job of welcoming us in. That makes the transition a lot easier for us. We can go out there and make mistakes, be rookies. That's the good part about it.

On what he is trying to do each day…

Get better, find ways to get better. As far as my game goes, every single thing needs to improve. I have to get better with my footwork and my drops. I have to see the defense a lot quicker, get up to the line of scrimmage. Everything needs to improve.

On how the west coast offense suits his skills…

It's about me, like I said, getting in there and doing the things I need to do in order to better myself. It's going to take a lot of hard work. I've been putting in a lot of overtime with my footwork with Coach Lee, just trying to tighten some things up. It's going to take a lot of work, but I'm working on it.

On if the quarterback competition possibly ending early favors one of the quarterbacks…

No, I don't know who that benefits. I do not know what Coach [Marty] Mornhinweg said or any of that stuff. I know there's a competition here. My job is to go out there and compete. That's what I do. I stay focused, within the lines, try to be a great teammate, a great competitor, just do my job and get better.

On what the atmosphere between the quarterbacks is like with the competition…

It's great. It's a great atmosphere. I love Mark, I love Greg, I love Matt. All great guys, all fun to be around. When we go to work, we're focused and we're working. Outside, they're great guys. I really enjoy being around them.

On if David Garrard had any parting words for him…

David is not here, obviously. We wanted him to be here. He's a great guy, first of all, also a very talented and smart quarterback. I want to continue to learn from David. I have his number, so he told me, “Feel free to call me if you have any questions, if you ever need anything.” That's just the type of guy he is. I won't be shy to do so.

On if it is difficult for him to show leadership while still learning the offense…

I don't think so. I think the thing is, you got to be yourself whether or not you're a rookie or not. Everyone can be a leader on this team. First of all, you have to lead yourself. You have to be a hard worker, come in with the right mindset. That's what I try to do daily. I love all my teammates. I get along with all these guys. I try to push and encourage them just as I would push myself, whether being a rookie, a starter or even a guy on the practice squad. I think all of us need to continue to do that because that builds good team chemistry as well as makes us better as a whole.

On if he would have an issue correcting a veteran who wasn’t lined up correctly…

It's my job as quarterback. If a guy is not lined up, I've got to make sure he's lined up. I don't think it's a pride issue. I think that's part of being a teammate and being a quarterback.

On how the Jets offense is different from what he ran in college…

Under center more. There is not as much shotgun, but a lot more things that are tied into your footwork. West Virginia I was kind of allowed to free-lance a little bit. It's a little more structured here. Overall the routes are similar as far as concepts go, but the terminology is different. That's the biggest thing I have to adjust to.

On if different plays require different footwork…

We have shotgun footwork. It's just different. You have play-action footwork. You got all types of things that are different. It's a total difference.

On if he pays attention to the snaps the other quarterbacks are taking…

I mean, I pay attention to every single snap. It's a good thing to get mental reps. I think Mark and Greg, all those guys, do the same thing when I'm in. Coach Lee does a great job of staying on us, making sure we see the play, we're able to spit it out, know our reads, know our footwork, everything we're supposed to be doing on a given play. That goes for every single play in practice.

On if he thinks his status is determined by how Mark plays…

I don't think about that, no.

On if his interception was just bad luck…

No, I have to put it on him. The ball was a little too high. I have to put it on the up field shoulder. Coach Lee got on me good about it.

On what Coach Lee said to him…

"Put it on the upfield shoulder." It's something I'll correct. It just takes time. We'll get that timing down.

On if he heard Santonio Holmes saying the ball hit the ground…

I was hoping it hit the ground. I didn't hear Santonio saying it.

On if he was “grounding” the ball to avoid a negative play…

That's the game of quarterback, to take care of the ball.

On if the coaches emphasize avoiding the negative plays…

I think that's just being a quarterback. As an offense, you don't want to turn the ball over. That puts your defense in tough situations. It limits your chances to score. You got to take care of the ball.

On the speed of the NFL game…

It's been quicker. It's been quicker. You are not going to see guys breaking wide open. You are not going to see guys coming open as you may have seen in college. Everyone needs to adjust to it. There is a lot of subtle differences. Guys know what they're doing a lot better. They know how to read and react a lot better. They know how to bait you in a lot better. It's just a total difference. You have guys who have been playing eight to ten years. Me coming in as a rookie, I'm not going to show them anything they haven't seen before. It's fun to be out there. I look forward to every single day in practice, learning and getting good reps. This is one of the best defenses in football.

On how the OTAs have been…

It's been good. A lot of learning, a lot of work being put in. A lot of good competition. Overall it's been good.

On what he is evaluating himself on in practice…

Subtle improvements are all I can ask of myself. It's going to be a process that's going to take place and it's going to continue. I've got lots of learning to go. I just have to stick with it, stay at it and continue to improve.

On the difference in this system to the one he ran in college…

I mean, it's a total difference. It's a completely new system. Going from being primarily in the shotgun, pistol set, more of that kind of stuff, to being under center, running a more West Coast style offense. It's something that just takes reps. Overall, I think I've been able to pick up my reads, figure out my depth, my drops, how it should be done, how coach wants it done. Like I said, there's a total difference in the two systems. It's just a process I have to go through. I've been working hard at it. There's still a lot of work to go.

On if he is still thinking or is he going out and just playing now…

I actually haven't been thinking as much as I was my first three days of rookie minicamp, first couple of days of OTAs. I'm getting more acclimated to it. The more reps I get, the better I'll be. Coach Lee and Coach Mornhinweg are staying hard on myself and Mark and Greg and Matt to really do it the way they want it because it's new for all of us. We're all in the same boat here, we're all competing. I can only speak for myself when I say I need to get more reps and I'm going to pick it up the more I get.

On if he has a lot of questions about the offense…

I mean, I ask questions. Like I said, Mark is in the same situation as I am. I ask questions regarding him being a vet. He's been through a lot more than I have, being in the league for a number of years. When it comes to the offense, I revert to Coach Lee, Coach Sparano [offensive intern Tony Sparano Jr.] and Coach Mornhinweg. They coach us daily. They pretty much have most of the answers I need.

On if it is an equal competition because the system is new to all the quarterbacks…

Well, the competition is the competition. That's the only thing I focus on. I go out there and improve myself, listen to Coach Mornhinweg and Coach Lee, trying to get better. This is a new system for me. There are a lot of things I have to work on, continue to work at. That's what I'm going to continue to do. I have a lot of time to do that. I'm in a good spot with that. I'm just going to keep working on it.

On if winning the starting job is easier because the system is new for every one…

That's up to the coaches. The only thing I can do, like I said, is go out there, work my butt off, try to get better.

On if he has a sense of when the competition will come to an end…

I have no idea. I only focus on getting better day to day. I go in there and I study film, study my playbook. When I'm out on the practice field, I try and maximize every single rep. That's the only thing that my job requires.

On how he can improve his footwork…

Just repetition. Just getting reps. I've been getting better with it as the days have gone by. Am I perfect? No. Am I close to being perfect? No. There's a lot of work that needs to be done.

On how hard it is to pick up the footwork…

I don't think it's hard to pick up. I just think it's repetition, getting a number of reps, working at it, getting better at it.

On if he feels he is behind the other quarterbacks because they were able to get the playbook earlier…

I couldn't tell you that honestly. I think that's something that's up to the coaches as far as who's ahead, who's behind.

On he can run the same plays the other quarterbacks run…


On if he calls meetings with other position groups to get caught up on the offense…

It is not a matter of us getting caught up. We're all in the same boat as far as that goes. It's a new system for all of us. The thing that we're all doing is studying our playbooks hard. When we get on the field, there is not many mental errors from my viewpoint. It's just a matter of us all getting repetition together, just getting on the same page, continuing to compete, which is what we do out there, just bettering ourselves daily.

On how close he is to hiring an agent…

I've actually made a decision. I’ve decided to go with Roc Nation Sports. It's going to be out there within the next couple of days.

On if his contract agent will be Kim Miale…


On if he is worried about Miale’s experience…

Not at all.

On how he has previously responded to competition in his career…

You know, I just think competition makes all of us better. As long as I continue to go out there and focus on what I need to focus on, which is the things I know I need to get better at, the things that my coaches and the guys around me tell me, “You need to work on this, work on that.” I work on it. As long as I continue to do that, the competition will be there. I embrace it. I enjoy it. It's all for a better cause. It's going to make all of us better and a better team.

On if he has to compete for a job previously…

Every single day of my life I've been competing, every single day.

On the role Jay-Z played in his agent decision…

Not that big of a role. I think it's just his agency. When you talk about being in New York, you know, from the standpoint of what they can do in the city, the connections that they have, I think it's a good move. My mother, my family is comfortable with it, I'm comfortable with it, just going to move on from there. It is not going to be a big deal, just remain humble and keep focusing on football.

On how important it is to market himself and create an image for himself…

It's not that important to me, honestly. The only thing that's important to me is the image that is perceived around this locker room, the guy that I am to my teammates, to my coaches and the work I put in on the football field. I'm all about football. I am all about getting better. That's the one thing I focus on, bettering myself daily, preparing myself to be there when the time comes.

On if he is worried about what some people’s perception will be by signing with Jay-Z’s agency…

That's their perception. I don't worry about that type of stuff. I'm comfortable with who I am. I'm strong in my faith. I know that this isn't because of an image thing or trying to market myself. It's just about being comfortable with the guys who are going to represent me. That's ultimately why I made that decision.

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