The sight was so uncommon that it startled Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.
On Thursday evening, Randy Lange and I were in the offensive meeting room waiting for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. We had our Internet radio equipment spread across a long table, sitting in the chairs usually occupied by players, when Sanchez walked into the room with a curious look on his face.
Fortunately for us, the only meeting scheduled that evening was Schotty's appearance on Jets Radio. (Jets TV also was on hand and that talented crew will cut up a nice piece for the Website before the regular-season opener.)
When Schottenheimer entered, we immediately asked him about his input into head coach Rex Ryan's decision to name Sanchez as the team's starting QB.
"We've graded every practice film, we've graded every minicamp like it was a game, and that is so you have a lot of data to go back on," Schotty said. "At the end of the day we felt as an offensive staff it was our job, and my job as a coordinator, to really just give Rex feedback on both guys, Mark and Kellen [Clemens], their strengths, their weaknesses, what we thought they did well and what we thought they had to improve on.
"In offering that counsel, Rex made the final decision and we support and stand by that as an offensive staff."
Instead of focusing on a snapshot, they elected to analyze the body of work. Sanchez, who's 6-for-12 passing for 131 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT in two preseason games, possesses arm strength that scouts may have underrated before the draft.
"One of the first things you notice about him was the arm talent. We knew we were getting a guy who could throw the ball, but there have been some days where you are like, 'Wow, that's pretty impressive,' " Schottenheimer said.
"He really does have terrific arm talent, he's got great velocity and he's got great accuracy. He's got a great ability to throw the deep ball, which you saw in the first play we ran vs. St. Louis. And the other thing that has jumped out has been his athleticism — there were a couple plays where he had to make people miss and moved a little bit."
After Schottenheimer joined the San Diego Chargers in 2002, his job as QB coach was to mentor a young Drew Brees. In his first full season as a starter, Brees, a second-year player in '02, completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,284 yards.
"I think there are similarities from a personality standpoint and a work ethic standpoint," Schotty said of Sanchez and the early Brees. "The size is similar — Mark [6'2"] is a little bit taller than Drew [6'0"] — but they both love football, they both work at it and they both have a passion for the game. They enjoy being the leader in the huddle. There are a lot of similarities and I said that from the first time I met Mark, that he reminded me a lot of Drew just from a personality standpoint. That's quite a compliment."
Sanchez, who played 27 games at Southern Cal, threw 41 touchdowns in his collegiate career before making himself eligible for the draft following his junior year. The Jets traded three veteran players — S Abe Elam, DE Kenyon Coleman and QB Brett Ratliff — along with the No. 17 and No. 52 overall selections to select the man they expect to be a franchise quarterback.
"I think that he saw this, if maybe not at this point, he saw himself leading a football team and leading the Jets," the OC said. "One of the benefits of playing at a program like USC and only having the 16 starts, you're playing with a premier team in college football, you're playing on the biggest stage in college football, and you're playing with a lot of pro coaches, things like that. So I think that helps the transition to this level."
But Sanchez is still a "kid," 22 years of age, and there's a lot that he has to learn.
"We do still laugh. As mature as he seems on the football field, which he is, there are a lot of things he still doesn't know," Schotty said. "He asked me the other day about an NFL team ... a question about 'What division are they in and what conference are they in?' He's new to professional football just like every rookie.
"It's just that this guy, along with any quarterback or a lot of high draft picks, is going to get a lot of extra media attention."