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SANCHEZ: You Have to Compete to Earn It

Posted May 2, 2013

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

On approaching the quarterback competition…

Exactly that way, just compete, compete my butt off, try to improve every day, focus on the fundamentals, focus on getting better and focus on learning the system.

On if he expects to be with the team all year…

Absolutely, that’s where my head’s at. I’m competing to be the starter.

On having a better year than last season…

Just do my very best to learn this system, focus on fundamentals, compete with the other quarterbacks. We have a lot of talent in that quarterback room, so it’s an exciting time of the year and we’ll just gear up, rock and roll and compete.

On the competition at quarterback…

It falls right in line with what John Idzik talked about, bringing in competition at every position. But it also marries up with everything I’ve been about my whole life, whether it was in high school, college or making it to the NFL level, competing with other players and earning everything you receive in this league. Nothing is just given, you have to compete to earn it, so it will be fun.

On if it took longer to put last season behind him…

No more than any season, good or bad. You focus on what you can improve on, don’t dwell on the negative too long, give it time and come back refreshed, ready to go. That’s what we’ve all really tried to do.

On if he comes into the season saying "This is my team"…

Of course, every quarterback should feel that way. I know I do and I’m not shy about voicing my opinion. You have to own it and compete your butt off to keep it in my position. That’s what I’ll do and I’ll do it the very best I can.

On the Jets waiving Tim Tebow…

Those are team decisions. He was a great teammate, just like Darrelle [Revis]. Great teammate. I enjoyed playing with him and I wish him the best.

On what he would say to the fans about the roster moves this offseason…

Just to hang in there, stay well and get excited for this next season. I think they’re going to be thrilled to see what Dennis Thurman, the defense and Rex [Ryan] have to offer. A lot of new talent there, a lot of different players. That’s awesome. We’ve acquired all those pass rushers, safety position guys. On offense, what Marty [Mornhinweg] has in store. Special-teams-wise, Ben Kotwica, I have all the faith in him to take over where Mike Westhoff left that position and they elevated Ben. We’re excited about all three phases and we’re just going to compete our butts off and be the best team that we can possibly be.

On if he has seen everything a competition can throw at him…

I think I’ve seen pretty much everything, so that’s good. The more years you have, the more experience you gain and you just make sure you take all those experiences, bottle them up somewhere and save them. You know how to react to different situations as they come up, but we’ll prepare and that’s what I’m going to keep on doing, preparing and competing.

On competing with the other quarterbacks…

Sure, whether it’s [Matt] Simms, [Greg] McElroy, David or Geno [Smith], all those guys want to play and that’s natural for a quarterback to want to play. It’s different than a guard, tackle, receiver or defensive tackle — there’s only one. So we’re all competing for that one spot. We’re friendly about it, but at the same time it’s a fierce competition. I’m excited about all those guys, I’m excited about having them in the quarterback room with me. We’ll learn as much as we can from each other, compete our butts off, and the best guy will play and hopefully help the team.

On if he feels like this is his team…

It has to feel that way going into your fifth year. At least that’s how I feel. I’m confident and I feel like we’ve seen just about everything you can see. So we’ll just keep rolling and do our very best.

On fans who may be disappointed with the team and who boo him…

That’s part of the game. They expect results. Ask them.

On if he has had a meeting with Coach Ryan and John Idzik to clarify his future with the team…

No, they don’t owe me that. It’s up to them if they’d like to. I’m free. I’m here.

On if he is wondering why they have not met with him…

Not at all. They said publicly and privately multiple times that we’re competing for our jobs. I don’t see why that’s really a question.

On the Jets drafting another quarterback…

Those aren’t my decisions. It’s my job to roll with whatever happens and play the cards I’m dealt. John Idzik is trying to field the best football team he can. He feels like Geno should be a part of that team and that’s fine. Now, I’m going to compete with Geno and see who’s the starter.

On if he thinks he would be on the team if he was not owed guaranteed money…

I have no idea. Ask John.

On if he was disappointed when they drafted Smith…

For what?

On if he was disappointed that drafting Smith further infringed on his hold on the starting quarterback job…

He’s going to come in here and compete. And if we’re competing for the job, I’m going to do my very best to compete and I expect to play. That’s just the way I am.

On if he expects to be the opening-day starter…

Of course.

On if he still views himself as the future of the franchise…

Absolutely.

On if he feels the front office views him as the future of the franchise…

Ask them. I don’t know.

On if he is worried about how the front office views him…

I’m worried about me playing well, competing my butt off, being the starter, learning this offense, being the best teammate I can be, trying to lead the guys I can. And other than that, it’s truly out of my control.

On if he feels different describing his approach…

I feel it’s just a more focused approach. There’s less to worry about.

On what way there is less to worry about…

You’re not hanging on the draft, watching, biting your nails like those first two years. I felt like, "Oh, I wonder who we’re going to get?" Who cares? They’re going to try to get this team better, bring in the best talent available on the board, and do their job the best they can. For them, the draft is a third-and-5 and they’re trying to convert. When it’s my turn to convert the third-and-5, I’ll do that. So that’s really my approach.

On what’s at stake for him this year…

Hopefully winning a bunch of games. That’s really all I’m worried about.

On if he feels it’s a make-or-break season for him…

I feel like it’s that way every year. It should feel like that, at least, if you care about it, I think, in my opinion. It’s an exciting time and I’m thrilled to compete. It will bring out the very best I have and that will help my team.

On if he expects to win the starting job…

No doubt. Of course.

On the front office not declaring a quarterback competition last season compared to this season…

It’s a new general manager.

On if there wouldn’t be a quarterback competition if he performed better, even with a new general manager…

I don’t know. Ask John. I have no idea.

On reports they spoke to him draft day about possibly taking Smith…

Marty told me. That’s why my brother [Nick Sanchez] said that, to clear that whole deal up. Marty just said, “Hey, man, we’re heating this thing up. Go win the job. That’s what you’re going to do. Go win it and compete, just like Geno is, just like David is, and get ready to roll. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

On if Coach Ryan and management have been transparent about his situation…

They said we’re going to compete and that’s what we’re doing. They drafted a quarterback, so let’s compete.

On if Coach Mornhinweg talked to him before or after the draft…

Actually both. He called and he said, “You doing all right?” "Yeah, I’m doing fine. Why?" “Oh, they’re giving you a hard time on TV.” "I wasn’t even watching. Should I be watching." He’s like, “Wow, that’s up to you. I don’t know, just make sure you’re hanging in there.” "I’m fine, Coach. Come on, man, it’s part of the job." Then he called after. He just said, “Hey, man, we’re heating up the competition, you know that. We just took Geno.” I said, "All right."

On if Coach Mornhinweg gave him any inclination they were drafting a quarterback…

No. My agent had a good idea. Dave had a good idea, my brother had a good idea just from people talking.

On what he worked on with Jeff Garcia…

When did we show up, April 15th? Really a month before that, six weeks before that, three or four times a week, just getting down there and going over all of his old stuff that he used to have, whether it was with Marty or any kind of West Coast terminology. We’d go out on the field and rep some of it. We’d watch a lot of his old games with Philadelphia, with San Francisco. There’s no substitute for that, just hearing the calls, hearing the terminology one time before you get here, it helps. I think it helps comprehend the system and digest the whole thing so I can spit it out quickly and confidently to the receivers as we’re out there four days a week.

On if the work he did with Garcia was missing last season…

I tried to do some of the same stuff with Chad [Pennington] last year, with him having played for Coach [Tony] Sparano, but Sparano wasn’t the coordinator at the time [Chad was with him in Miami], so it was a little different. Jeff’s been with Marty at least two different times for a length of multiple seasons or at least multiple games, so that’s big. Then Marty having the experience he has, a lot of those things carry over from even when Jeff was playing.

On his message to the fans that don’t want him to be the starting quarterback…

That’s OK. I can’t worry about that. If you worry about stuff like that, you’ll compromise what you’re trying to do and that’s compete. My only promise to them is I'll compete to the best I can and be the best possible quarterback and decision maker for this team. After that, we’ll see what happens.

On why he feels it will be his best this season…

It’s one of those situations where there’s a challenge for something that I hold very dear to my heart, that has really been my life’s goal, to play on this level and being a starting quarterback. When somebody challenges you that way, it really brings out your best.

On if he is concerned that he would be released before training camp…

I can’t worry about that. I haven’t even thought about it. That’s not even in my wheelhouse right now. If it happens, it happens.

On if there are enough reps for three quarterbacks to get a fair chance in an open competition…

I’ll let you know in camp.

On if he anticipates a fair opportunity for each quarterback…

I assume so. That’s everything I’ve heard. Unless they want somebody to start and then it will be obvious, and you guys will know.

On having competition for the starting quarterback position after four years in the league…

It’s new management. John Idzik wanted every position to compete for their job, so the quarterback position is no different.

On Nick Mangold’s comments that there is “a different air about him” this year…

He just sees how focused I am. He’s seen me lead the fourth-quarter comebacks, he’s seen me help win playoff games. He knows that’s what I want, that’s what I want for our team. He also knows what it takes to get there and what we had, those veteran teams with top-notch talent, competed hard to get to those positions. We didn’t just roll out of bed and end up in the AFC Championship Game. I think he just sees a more focused version of me, a guy who's excited and not shying away from competition, I never have, it’s not in my makeup. There’s a little fire going and that’s good, I’m cool with that. I think it’s good for everybody.

On if he feels he’s been treated unfairly by the team…

Who’s to say what’s fair and what’s not? I’m not worried about that.

On Coach Mornhinweg reaching out to him after the team drafted Geno Smith

That was very nice of him and he didn’t have to do that. It really showed how much experience he has with this position, and he knows, one, how difficult it is to play, but also how much goes into it. Mentally, that mental approach, I think he wants to cultivate that. I just feel a good vibe with Marty and hopefully we get off to a good start, but we’ll see.

On where he was when he heard the Jets had drafted Smith…

I think I was at home [in New Jersey].

On his statements that acquiring Tim Tebow wasn’t a good situation for either one of them…

If you were Tim’s agent or my agent, would you say that’s the absolutely best position for either of us? Probably not. Tim wanted to play, I wanted to play, only one guy plays at this position. So I guess it wasn’t the most advantageous, but that’s the way things happen. We both competed our best, tried to be the best of friends we could, and honestly under different circumstances we would be really good friends.

It’s just hard when you’re competing like that. There’s just a professionalism about it that you don’t get too close to guys like that. You’re just professional, and you’re cool and if the guy has a flat tire on the side of the road, I’m going to stop, I’m not just going to blow by him, but at the same time, I’m not send him gifts on his birthday or anything.

On if his relationship with Smith can be different than it was with Tebow…

No, it’s the same. I don’t see why it would be any different. I will help him out as much as I can, but when we have to compete, we have to compete. That’s the way it goes.

On if he’ll mentor Smith…

If he has a question, of course, I’m not going to be a jerk. I’ve heard plenty of stories about guys like that, you know, they come in after your read and they say, “Look at your book.” Yeah, go look at your book, but if we’re on the field it’s not like you can run in and look at your book. "Hey, man, you’re reading the flat defender high long.” Curl, flat, whatever. So what? I don’t think that’s going to hurt my chances of playing.

On if he blames the team for creating the atmosphere last season…

Sal [Paolantonio] had night-vision goggles, he was out there [joking]. They asked specifically about the attention Tim garners and in training camp, was it a distraction? So that’s why I said that. I don’t feel bad for saying it. I didn’t say it in a derogatory way. No hard feelings to ESPN or Tim or the team, but the fact of the matter, nobody has ever done that before, I don’t think. And there were only two teams that did it, the only two teams that were on TV. So it was the way it was.

On if it was a good thing to have ESPN cameras at training camp…

Who’s to say? That doesn’t matter, that’s just the way it went.

On the offense and if it will help him become a better player…

I think its quarterback-friendly. I think the reads are simple, precise, they line up with the footwork really well. It’s a proven system that’s worked for decades in this league. I think Marty is one of the guys, not necessarily an originator but a disciple of those original playcallers, creators of this offense in Bill Walsh, Paul Brown, and then you move on down the tree and over the NFL, whether they’re coordinators or head coaches.

But that kind of experience, just when he installs plays and talks about, whether it’s the easiest, quick-gain route, he’s talking about how Donovan [McNabb] liked it, how Steve Young threw it, Jeff Garcia would read it, things like that. It just feels good, hearing that from somebody who has been around the quarterback a long time.

On how competing with Smith will be different from competing with Tebow…

I don’t know. We’ll find out.

On if he feels his back is against the wall…

I don’t think so. I feel like, like I said, back to square one. Let’s work on our fundamentals and focus, really have attention to detail while we’re in here. Study this offense, know it forwards and backwards, and then go out on the field and compete your butt off and see what happens. At the end of the day you can rest easy if you tell yourself you want to do that and you’ve done that.

On if part of his preparation is not to get too overwhelmed…

Why worry about that? There are not enough hours in the day to worry about what fans are saying and what the media is saying, if this is my last chance. That’s too much. Just focus on the reads, focus on your footwork, let your play take care of itself and have fun doing it. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

On Coach Mornhinweg’s offensive philosophy…

From an offensive philosophy/philosophical standpoint, Marty’s like, we have possession of the ball after every play. That’s one of his key phrases: We’re going to have possession of the ball after every play and don’t lay it on the carpet and don’t throw it to anybody else. That’s just his deal. I think it really is a mindset and he’s alluded to that. In championship football teams, he’s said it a million times, “Just take care of the football.” In a short three weeks or whatever it’s been, he said, “Championships are won in the offseason and if you take care of the ball, we’ll go a long way.”

On if he has enough playmakers in this offense to succeed…

Of course, I think so.

On who he views as his top playmakers…

All the guys on the team. Our top playmakers, at receiver, we have [Jeremy] Kerley, we have Stephen Hill, who looks healthy, he looks great. At tight end, DK [Dustin Keller] is gone, but [Jeff] Cumberland is ready to step up. Hayden Smith looks sharp for a second-year football player ever — he looks awesome. I think Konrad [Reuland] is doing very well. He made a lot of strides, he’s finally healthy. Then at the running back spot, we acquired Chris Ivory, we have Bilal Powell, we have Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight. We have Lex [Hilliard] at fullback. You want me to keep going? All those guys.

On why he did not mention Santonio Holmes

He’s not here yet. He’ll be here in a couple days. He’s finishing school.

On his long hair…

It’s my inner soccer player deal. My hair is getting long. I’m going to donate it at some point if I can last. We’ll see.

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