FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mark Sanchez’s studious nature won’t allow him to kick back and relax Tuesday nights, not with the game plan for the upcoming opponent sitting in his e-mail inbox. While some players may take the last few hours of their weekly day off to get better acquainted with their couch, remote control and high-definition televisions, the rookie signal-caller likes to get down to business.
He’s not exactly continuously hitting the send and receive button, waiting for the staff’s e-mail to pop into his new mail folder. But Sanchez has his early-week routine down pat, and that includes starting work sometime Tuesday night and going over the plan as many as 15 times so he can throw all his queries at offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer the next day.
“That’s really important for me because these guys need to have confidence in me,” Sanchez said yesterday. “And if I’m fumbling through calls in the huddle, if I’m unsure where to go with the ball on game day, it just looks bad. And I want Wednesday’s practice to be great and it’s tough to have a Wednesday practice unless you study on Tuesday. If you just get here and see the plays for the first time on Wednesday, it ain’t happening. So I’m trying to get ahead.”
Sanchez meticulously pores over the plays for the week, familiarizing himself with the receivers’ routes, personnel packages, running plays and audibles.
“He takes it seriously,” left guard Alan Faneca said. “He always seems to be prepared for the different situations, whatever is coming up, especially at that position. But not every rookie gets it that this isn’t college and you aren’t going to play some directional school on Saturday. It’s a different game.”
Sanchez’s ascension caught the eye of the Jets’ first two opponents, and Titans coach Jeff Fisher threw some praise Sanchez’s way yesterday. Fisher said Sanchez looked like a “six-year veteran” in the opener and isn’t the least bit shocked Sanchez has stepped in and played so well so soon.
Perhaps no one has been more helpful to Sanchez than the person he was competing with for the starting gig. Sanchez said Kellen Clemens aids him in whatever way he can, ranging from telling him what he’s seeing from opposing defenses to even giving Sanchez five dollars if necessary.
“Kellen is like your big brother,” Sanchez said. “The best way to describe Kellen, to be totally honest, is if I had a sister, I would want her to marry Kellen. He is a great guy.”
Sanchez might need to lean on Clemens even more this week even though the Titans have yielded 678 passing yards through their first two games. “Mark’s got to make good, accurate decisions, quick decisions, and then deliver the ball with accuracy,” coach Rex Ryan said. “This is going to be a big test for him.”