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SANCHEZ: QB Competition Is a Fierce Deal

Posted May 16, 2013

Transcript of quarterback Mark Sanchez's news conference in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room Thursday afternoon:

On how the team is picking up the new offense…

It’s going really well. I like the guys’ attitude. I love Coach Mornhinweg’s attitude. Coach Dev[lin] is excited to be with the offensive line, those guys are flying around out there at practice. It’s an energized feeling. I think everyone’s coming to work each day with something in mind to try to improve on and it’s obvious out there. We’re moving quickly. Guys are encouraging each other and it’s a great atmosphere. I think we’re right where we want to be, we just have to keep improving.

On if he personally feels this will be a successful offense for him to run…

I love to feel that way and that’s the way I do. I feel good about everything going in, about the progression of things. I think Coach Mornhinweg, he’s done this a million times, he has a ton of experience. Then you couple that with Coach Lee and his emphasis on fundamentals — all good things.

On if David Garrard’s retirement was abrupt…

A little bit abrupt, but he worked hard and he had a great attitude. He was one of those guys that I felt like I’d be able to bounce my ideas off of, having that veteran experience. So it’s tough to see a guy go like that and you just wish him the best health-wise first, and then, he has a career to celebrate, he played a long time in this league and did a heck of a job. It was great to be around him in the short time I had with him and we wish him nothing but the best.

On if his mindset on the competition is the same without Garrard…

Nothing’s changed. My mindset is the same. Just stay focused, master this offense, improve on my fundamentals, be as accurate as possible, take care of the football, and lead this team.

On if he saw Garrard’s retirement coming...

I don’t know about that. I think it was more abrupt than anything. He worked hard and he battled through some pain it sounds like, but other than that, I don’t want to speak for David.

On Carolina WR Steve Smith’s comments…

I have no idea. You have to ask Steve, but I wish him and his team a healthy and successful season.

On if he has gotten the chance to practice with Geno Smith

Yes, we’ve been on the field, I believe, Monday and Tuesday. He looks good. He’s sharp. He works hard, doesn’t say too much, just plays his butt off and competes. That’s great.

On if he has had any conversations with Smith…

Yes.

On if they talked about anything particular…

Nothing to talk about now.

On if he’s eager for the next offseason phase to start on Monday…

I’m ready. I’m excited.

On the biggest difference in what Coach Mornhinweg asks him to do compared to his past coordinators…

Each coach has his own different approach. I try not to compare coaches, but I feel good, and I’ve touched on this quite a bit, just that Marty has so much experience when he talks about specific routes and specific quarterbacks liking them a certain way, how he’s called protections in the past, the progressions he goes through explaining the very basics of the offense dating back to Paul Brown and Bill Walsh and moves on to what he’s seen from other places and borrowed that way.

[Nick] Mangold and I talked about that, it's like you’re going through a history book of the NFL and building on that as you go. So it’s nice to know why certain plays are called a certain way, what they were called before, how a certain tag has just kind of taken over as the name for a play and everyone understands it that way. It’s a pretty cool progression and it’s been fun so far.

On running Lane Kiffin’s offense at USC, which had West Coast principles…

It was wild just working with Jeff [Garcia]. When we went through the red zone stuff, these were tags that I had heard in college, tags that I heard a little bit with Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer], so we went through his old red zone install, and every play I could draw up. It just felt good. I knew exactly what he was talking about, exactly what progression he was talking about and how certain routes adjusted, so it’s something that really does make sense to me and hopefully it all comes together on the field.

On if he can seize the quarterback competition early…

I have no idea. I’m focused on playing the very best I can, and as soon as they tell me you’re the guy or you’re not they guy, then we’ll know. But they haven’t given me any indication on when that should be.

On if Smith and he will get the majority of the reps with Garrard gone…

They haven’t said anything about it and maybe that’s coming on Monday, maybe it’s coming today, I have no idea. I’ll be ready for the reps I get and I’m just going to try to make the most of them.

On if his confidence took a hit last season and what he has done to address it…

If it didn’t take a hit, then I feel good. I don’t think it took a hit. I know it didn’t take a hit. But I feel good.

On if he thinks the new offense suits his strengths better than last year’s offense…

I’m from the West Coast. [laughter]

On if he thinks the new offense is better than last year’s offense…

I think each year is different. Each year there are different circumstances that go into different things and a couple plays here, a couple plays there, who knows what we’re saying about last year? So we’ll try to leave that one in the past and just move and hope for good things.

On if Smith and he are the frontrunners in the quarterback competition…

I think we’re all in it. Don’t count those other two out [Greg McElroy and Matt Simms]. I think they work their butts off. I think they’ve mastered the system. And this is a different Simms and a different Greg than I’ve ever seen. Not that they weren’t anything special before, it’s just everybody has a heightened sense of awareness, everybody’s eyes are on that starting prize. I think their actions show that, the way they’re preparing, the way they’re studying, how confident they sound. Trust me, it’s a fierce deal. We’re all excited.

On if he also has a heightened sense of awareness…

Of course, naturally as you progress in your career, you try and tighten up and hone in. Like I said, this is something I dreamed about my whole life and now I’m not planning on letting go.

On the communication between John Idzik and him…

I think if it’s something that he needs to let me know, he’ll let me know. I have no problem going up to his office. He's got an open door policy, wants to talk to guys, get to know guys. He’s out there at every practice, which is nice. You see him in the cafeteria, you see him walking through the training room. He’s a visible guy. He’s not just somebody upstairs hiding behind some office door. He’s an approachable and personable guy. But at the same time, this is a whole new deal, so he’s not obligated to tell anybody anything. It’s really his show to run and from there on we’ll just do the very best we can and I know he’s doing the best for us.

On if there is something he can do in the offseason to cut down on turnovers…

Part of that too, and Marty touched on it, he said it’s a mentality. There’s a point where you bite your nails growing up or something and then you just stop. Whatever it takes, you just stop. It’s a habit, it becomes a habit, it becomes a way of thinking and a way of making decisions on the field. There’s been some drill work that we’ve been doing with Coach Lee. I’ve never thrown the ball away as many times as I have in these first couple of weeks as we have in these drills. It’s something you practice. Like I said, those things become habit, you just continue to rep them and just don’t let them happen. That’s the plan.

On why he’s throwing away more balls…

I think it’s just when somebody is not open, that kind of drill, a lot of times you don’t think about repping that throw, but sometimes that throw might be the most important. You save yourself another down, get to the next play and move on.

On what Coach Lee is trying to teach about when quarterbacks throw the ball away in drills…

Sure, that’s the point. Sorry if I didn’t say that clearly. That’s the point. Guys will raise their hands if they’re open, and if no one raises their hands, you’re either running or throwing it away. That’s kind of the drill. I think it’s valuable and I think it’s one of those things that we aim to address.

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