MISSION VIEJO, Calif. - From the moment new Jets general manager John Idzik traded up in the second round of the NFL draft to take West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, the perception has been that Mark Sanchez's days as Jets starting quarterback are numbered. But Sanchez clearly doesn't share that view, and as he demonstrated at his "Jets West" passing camp, he's focused on maintaining his leadership position.
On Friday, Sanchez told reporters who attended the second of three workouts that he "absolutely" expects to win the coming training-camp battle with Smith. The way he conducted the camp, from organizing off-field activities to film sessions to the workouts themselves conveyed the image of a man in charge of the situation.
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"I think he's as confident as he can be," Nick Sanchez said of his son. "The fact is he can only play as well as he can, work as hard as he can, do everything he possibly he can do. That's always been -- and I think it will continue to be -- more than enough. I don't think he really has any concerns about it."
Sanchez certainly deserved his share of the blame for the Jets' 6-10 record last season, committing 26 turnovers. But a decline in the personnel around Sanchez coupled with the impact of Tim Tebow and his role in the Wildcat offense also had a negative impact.
"I don't think it was just Mark," Nick Sanchez said of the awkward quarterback situation with Tebow. "There was an entire team. It made it difficult for everyone. Last year was a little disappointing, and I think they've been able to put things back together in a fashion that they will be successful this year . . . I think that West Coast offense will lend itself very well to the personnel."
The Jets might use Smith in much the same fashion the 49ers transitioned to Colin Kaepernick last season, but Sanchez also might benefit from the new offense. He described the terminology and reads as "quarterback friendly" and said he tried to reiterate the concepts taught by new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg during "Jets West."
"Selfishly for me, I really enjoy being able to teach this stuff back in the classroom," Sanchez said. "That helps me learn the playbook. So, when I get in the huddle, I'm confident, I feel good, the calls just roll off my tongue. For those guys, they have plenty of questions every day."
Among the 11 other Jets who attended were such veterans as wide receivers Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley, tight ends Kellen Winslow, Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland and running back Chris Ivory.
"This is good for me to learn the offense and see what Mark's about and how he handles himself," said Winslow, who is trying to resurrect his career with the Jets. "I'm real impressed with him. He's a leader. He handles himself well in meetings. He handles himself like a pro."
For a guy whose job has been threatened so publicly, Reuland said the way Sanchez organized and ran "Jets West" demonstrated a take-charge attitude. "It shows he's taking initiative," Reuland said. "You always want that out of a leader, a guy who's going to organize everything and plan it out.
"When we have our meetings, he's running the meetings. He's an extension of the coaching staff. He's running everything and drawing things up on the board. I think the guys respect the fact he's putting this on, hosting us, and he's done a great job with it."
When the Jets arrive in training camp June 25 at SUNY-Cortland, there will be an intense focus on the battle between Sanchez and Smith. Reuland and Hill each said the other players can't get caught up in it because they must concentrate on their own jobs.
Hill praised Sanchez's improved command. "He takes control," Hill said. "If somebody doesn't know something, he tells you. He's definitely taking a lot of leadership this year."
But when it comes down to it, the quarterback battle is all about results. "We just want to have a quarterback get the ball to the right position," Hill said. "Other than that, we don't deal with it that much. We want them to compete."