A Southern California native, Mark Sanchez has warmed up to the idea of the West Coast offense.
"I think it's a proven system. I think it's had a great deal of success historically and then it's about fitting that system," he told me on "Jets Talk LIVE" this week. "A West Coast system is kind of malleable. You can change it a little bit depending on the players you have, so our players are going to partially dictate what we do."
Sanchez, who will be a part of a competition for the Jets starting QB position, hopes to lead the offense for a fifth consecutive opening day when the Bucs visit on Sep. 8. But he is faced with the challenge of learning under his third coordinator in three years as Marty Mornhinweg was hired in the offseason to jump-start the Jets attack.
"He's engaging," Sanchez said. "I think he's well-respected just from these first couple of days. I think guys really feel his passion for what he's coaching."
Mornhinweg knows a thing or two about quarterbacks, considering five QBs earned Pro Bowl status working under him: Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Steve Young, Jeff Garcia and Brett Favre.
"He's had a lot of different quarterbacks, so it's nice to hear him say, 'When I was with Donovan, when I was with Michael Vick, when I was with Steve Young or (when I was with) Jeff Garcia.' All those guys have had a ton of success in this league," Sanchez said. "When you hear him say stuff like that, he garners respect that way.
"He doesn't do it just for the respect factor — he does it because he's had those experiences. He's not boasting or anything. He's just saying, 'This specific player liked this specific route for this reason.' It's just nice to hear that kind of experience come from a coach and somebody who is so quarterback friendly."
In order to be successful in Mornhinweg's attack, the 26-year-old Sanchez is stressing the importance of movement.
"One of the things primary is your feet. Your feet have to be sharp. Every read and progression has a footwork that ties in specifically to it and every throw has a specific footwork," he said. "So feet No. 1 and then your eyes. Your vision has to be clean and clear, and then you just have to trust that. Those are the main things and that's really the basis of the West Coast system is the quarterback has to be sharp, comprehend the material, be able to teach it back to other guys, bring other guys along and then his feet and his eyes have to be great."
Even before he could huddle with Mornhinweg, Sanchez sought out one of his former star pupils. Jeff Garcia played under Mornhinweg with both the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles, setting career-bests in Frisco in 2000 with 4,278 yards and 31 TDs.
"I know that kind of experience, just learning from him and listening to him can only help. Specifically having played for Marty multiple times, this terminology there is a lot of carryover from what Jeff was talking about to what Marty is saying," Sanchez said. "Jeff has been in other systems with (Jon) Gruden and other coaches, so you can see how there are subtle differences in a West Coast system in one place, in another. But he was a great teacher, a great motivator."
The language of a new system will be a challenge, but Sanchez says his collegiate experience at USC helped him prepare for the West Coast attack.
"To me honestly it's similar to some of the concepts we had in college. It really makes sense to me — I really enjoy this terminology, so I think it's a good fit," he said. "Keep your fingers crossed and we'll see how this goes. I'm hoping for the best, but it just seems real natural to me — a lot of the terminology and the way it's taught, the progression of things just seems a little more natural. So I'm thrilled about that."
Admitting to pressing in 2012 as Sanchez was charged with 26 turnovers for a second consecutive season, Sanchez is eager for a "fresh start."
"You want to get the bad taste out of your mouth and you can't do that until we actually play a game," he said. "Until then, you just keep working tirelessly to master this system, be the best quarterback I can be, work my vision and work my feet."