In the NFL, there are two types of quarterbacks: those who play in New York and those who don't. The eternal microscope is focused on every snap. The town has swallowed a number of good passers over the years, while others have proven to be effective under the hot lights.
The Jets are in the midst of another valley in their year, and if there is any pattern to the flow of a football season, a peak shouldn't be too far behind.
"Guys are excited to play," said QB Mark Sanchez. "Even as poorly as we've played the last couple of weeks, we have a real shot at the playoffs. We need to do everything possible to make it, and that starts with this game."
WR Plaxico Burress, a Sanchez supporter since signing with the Jets in August, has proven to be effective in New York in the past. The recent struggles have not jaded Burress, and he continues to be steadfast in his feelings towards his quarterback.
"You have to understand this town and the way things go," said Burress. "I think he'll be fine. I wouldn't have made the decision to come play with him if I didn't think he had the potential to be a great quarterback."
In his daily news conference today, head coach Rex Ryan admitted to giving QB Mark Brunell a small number of snaps with the starting offense today. It is a tactic he used last season after back-to-back losses to the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.
Sanchez responded with a win in Pittsburgh in Week 15. In the five starts he made after Ryan's motivational tactic, he completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,055 yards, six touchdowns and only two interceptions. Included in those starts were the road playoff victories at Indianapolis and New England.
While Ryan's intentions are apparently motivational, Sanchez says every coach-quarterback relationship has at least a little tension.
"We're both competitive, we both want to win, we both have our own ways of going about things, and that's all," said Sanchez. "I'm not mad at him. I don't know where that came from. We're just trying to win a game, and I'm not worried about anything else."
Ryan has stood by his quarterback since joining the Jets before the 2009 season, and the two have developed a unique relationship. Brunell, a former franchise quarterback himself, recognizes how deep the relationship has become.
"They have a pretty cool bond that I think is pretty special," said Brunell. "It's one that is going to be around for a long time."
The Bills come into town on Sunday, looking for vengeance after the Jets defeated them, 27-11, in Week 9. Despite having lost three straight to also drop to 5-5, they're still tied for second in the AFC in takeaways. If the Jets want to distance themselves from Buffalo in the standings, ball security is of the utmost importance.
"I've got to play much better than I'm playing," Sanchez said. "I've got to take care of the football, put us in the right positions, put us in the right runs, be accurate with the football, and make the right reads. A lot of it is on me. I'll improve and this team will."
His words are not simply lip service. Sanchez insists that he continues to work every day.
"I'm exhausting my resources here," he said. "I'm studying my butt off, trying to get us in the right place. I'm still searching for something. If it's something in my preparation, then I'll find it."
With 10 days between games, there is plenty of time for Sanchez to continue his searching. The proving ground lies ahead on Sunday, and Sanchez knows there is only one statistic that can satisfy his team and its fans.
"It's all part of playing quarterback in New York," he said. "It's great when you're winning, and it's tough when you're losing. We just have to go win."