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Jets Q & A: Has Mark Sanchez lost the locker room?

Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets

Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets calls a play before he snaps the ball against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. (Dec. 17, 2012) Credit: Getty

The Jets quarterback, at least publicly, chose not to ponder his standing inside his own locker room. A year removed from their epic meltdown in Miami, where finger-pointing and me-first attitudes dissolved a once-promising 2011 season, Mark Sanchez once again finds himself in the epicenter of failure.

"I've just got to play better," he said Monday night, after his five turnovers handed the win to the Titans. "That's all I'm worried about. Elevating my play, taking care of the football, making some better throws, and not hurting the team."

But while his offensive teammates were quick to divert some of the post-game attention from Sanchez specifically, some defensive players tried hard to censor their frustrations. As Antonio Cromartie walked through the locker room toward the shower, he warned reporters in the room not to ask him any questions or else he'd be forced to "tell the truth.

"I'm just being real," the cornerback added. "This [stuff has] gotta stop."

Safety LaRon Landry, known best for his bruising hits and in-game intensity, said he couldn't speak about Sanchez's struggles because he plays on the other side of the ball. "So it's up to the coaches and the offensive guys to uplift him, motivate him, have the willpower to want to be successful," Landry said. "That's what we do on defense.

"It also comes [down to] the willpower to want to win, to want to strive to be the best. It goes along with heart, man. You've got to ask yourself what's important to you at that given time, what's your character, who you are as a person, as an individual. And it's going to stand out. You're going to see which guys want it the most. As a defense, you see what we bring to the table. No matter if our back's against the wall. We might give up a couple [plays], but at the end, we all want to win, we all want to be the best. And you can see that."

Linebacker Calvin Pace, who finished with five tackles and a sack, said he still has confidence in Sanchez. But he was clear about the margin of error -- of lack thereof -- for this Jets defense, adding the unit is "the strong suit of this team."

"It's nerve wracking. It's frustrating at times," Pace said. "But we've had terrible games and they picked us up."

Rex Ryan wasn't ready to name next week's starter after the game, but Sanchez said he'll continue his regular routine until told otherwise.

"I just have to go in and play," he said, and prepare like the starter and see what happens," he said.

What did Braylon Edwards have to say about his first game back with the Jets?

Despite being limited in practice because of a hamstring injury, the recently signed wide receiver started Monday night. He had three catches for 47 yards, the longest being a 17-yarder with 3:20 left.

"Two weeks ago, I never thought I'd be at 75 percent, let alone play at about 82, 83," said Edwards, who also was one of the gameday captains. "So I felt a lot better," he said.

The receiver also drew a pass interference penalty on Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner, which put the Jets on Tennessee's 14. A few plays later, Sanchez hit Jeff Cumberland on a 4-yard touchdown pass, but the call was overturned because the ball hit the ground.

"Braylon, I knew he'd compete hard," said Ryan, who dressed six wide receivers in the absence of Dustin Keller (ankle) and Stephen Hill (knee). "Obviously, that's what he does. I know he's not 100 percent, but I thought Braylon played hard, and that's who he is."

Was anything done to honor the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims?

The Jets wore black, circular decals on the backs of their helmets to honor the 26 victims -- 20 of whom were children -- of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., last Friday. The same initialed decal, featuring the acronym "S.H.E.S.," was placed on the side of Ryan's headset as well. Titans running back Chris Johnson also paid his respects by writing the names of each one of the victims on his cleats.

"When you have kids and you wake up and see that on the news, it's kind of heartbreaking," said Johnson, who rushed for a 122 yards a touchdown. "It's something to try to give back and show tribute to those families. I felt like it was a good deed."

And his 94-yard score was more meaningful because of them, he said.

"Just thinking about those kids all week and the whole game," Johnson added. "I don't care who you are. Anytime you have kids, you just think about that situation. It shows you how blessed you are to see your kids every day."

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