The first four days of training camp are now complete for the New York Jets in Cortland.
As the team now heads toward its first day off Tuesday, quarterback Mark Sanchez has been pleased with the strides the offense has taken in learning an entire new system.
Sanchez, entering his fourth NFL season, said he has enjoyed becoming familiar with the up-tempo new offense implemented by first-year offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and remarked that the new offense is more "game-like" than others he's been accustomed to in the past.
"It's a process," Sanchez said of learning the new offense. "I want to know everything possible, everything trying to think ahead, trying to anticipate calls. But I'm starting to see that this offense is going to be fun to watch."
The Jets signalcaller had a strong practice this morning, connecting on several pass plays with one of his top receiving targets, Santonio Holmes.
No. 6 for the Green & White hopes that his fourth NFL season will be similar to that of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. In the 2007 season, Manning's fourth year in the league, he led the Giants past the New England Patriots for the dramatic 17-14 victory in Super Bowl XLII.
"That fourth year, I think he only threw one pick in the playoffs, when they won that Super Bowl — one," Sanchez said. "I think he may have thrown 20 in the regular season. I've been there and plenty of quarterbacks have been there, so you see the margin for error in this league is so small. Once the quarterback, the offense, the coordinator really realize that, and take advantage of that and show that on the field, you can win a lot of games and be really successful."
Sanchez has proven he can perform and compete on the biggest stage. He guided the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games in just his first two years in the league. However, last season the team finished 8-8, failed to reach the playoffs and watched Manning pick up his second Super Bowl crown as the Giants once again defeated the Patriots.
"I think it takes time," Sanchez said. "It takes a confidence level and that only happens through getting more and more reps. As guys mature and get a little older, and more familiar with the defenses they see, and more familiar with their surroundings, what a pregame routine is like, they really nail down their own routine and kind of find themselves. They start playing better and just feel more comfortable.
"They suddenly become more accurate, and people take notice of it in that fourth, fifth, sixth year. But it's a process. And a lot of them [quarterbacks] who had early success might have sat for a couple years and watched somebody do it for two, three years and then came in and took the league by storm."
Head coach Rex Ryan said he sees Sanchez at "that natural maturation you get in your fourth year in a system. I think you see that. At first that rookie year ... he's out there winging it. Now he's a true pro. Four years into it, I think you expect it, and you see it. I know the burning desire to win, maybe a little less messing around, a little more focus, I think is evident when you watch him now."
Sanchez, the former USC star, is a student of the game. He makes it known that he studies quarterbacks across the league along with their career tracks, specifically noting how he's been impressed with how Manning, the two-time Super Bowl MVP, has been able to "weather the storm."
"His game is unbelievable," Sanchez said.
Maybe Sanchez's fourth year in the league will be his best season yet. Then again, maybe it won't. But either way, it'll be a compelling attraction and something special for all to witness. "This whole thing is a learning process," he said, "it really is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep your head down, keep working, smile and have a good time with it."