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Namath: Jets sending wrong signal to Sanchez

Jets legend Joe Namath sees plenty of similarities

Jets legend Joe Namath sees plenty of similarities between this year's team and the squad that upset the Colts in Super Bowl III. Credit: AP

There is little doubt Mark Sanchez will toe the company line and welcome Tim Tebow with open arms. But Joe Namath, a former Jet and former Super Bowl-winning quarterback, believes Sanchez should have doubts about the Jets’ future plans – especially at the quarterback position.

Namath – who went on air Wednesday to criticize the Jets’ trade for Tebow – went a step further Thusday, highlighting the implications of the move on Sanchez.

“I know Mark’s going to be the good soldier,” Namath said in a phone interview Thursday. “He’s going to do the right things and say the right things.

“I believe he’s got to have some doubts about what he’s been told by various principals with the Jets. I mean, you’ve got to question – at least I would. I don’t know if you can trust everything you hear from your people when you’re working for them. It’s awkward.”

The Tebow trade with the Denver Broncos – which was first announced by the Jets Wednesday afternoon, only to have the transaction stalled for eight hours – now gives the Jets a potentially potent “Wildcat” presence.

But Namath contends teams that have potent offenses don’t employ the scheme.

“The only reason that thing’s used is because the regular offense isn’t good enough,” said the Hall of Famer, who regularly discusses Jets news on his web site, “You don’t see good teams utilizing it or teams that have quality offenses. Not one championship team that I’m aware of has utilized it.

“Can you imagine taking Tom Brady off the field? Really? Or Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers or Roethlisberger? I mean, come on. And yet, they’re going to take their quarterback off the field. That’s telling him they have something better than him. Now Mark’s got to prove that they shouldn’t get to that point.”

Asked what advice he would give Sanchez, Namath said he doesn’t feel comfortable dispensing unsolicited counsel. “But I do know how I’d go about this thing,” he said, “and that is, do my absolute best to have the wins. Make myself such a good player to where they can’t take me off the field. Make our offense so daggone efficient that you don’t have to run one snap of this Wildcat kind of thing.”

“…Knowing something about Mark, he’s the kind of man that’s going to try to do the right kind of things,” Namath said. “I’d think the guy was – I wouldn’t say heartbroken, but I’d surely feel like I had the wind knocked out of me. To have this kind of thing transpire, cause really, you can say all you want about how other teams have to prepare for you. But the fact of the matter is, your team doesn’t think you’re good enough to run the offense out there successfully.”

Here are some other tidbits from my interview with Namath:

(On what he expects to see from the Jets this season?)

“I would love to see them win and it’s going to be hard because it’s a team game. They have weaknesses in other areas that they haven’t addressed yet. They’re trying to address them with a move or two and free agency, and who knows what’s going to happen with the draft. They’re not getting a lot. It’s more smokescreens than anything to me. They’re not fixing the pieces that need fixing.”

(on trade being a publicity stunt?)

“I know they want to win. I know Rex wants to win. I know the assistant coaches want to win and the players want to win. How they’re going about it though, there are some other priorities that some of the people that manage the situation may have more interest in than just putting the best players together that they can and to get on the field.

(Implications of Wildcat and Tebowmania distractions)

“If you have a good offense and you’re running things properly and executing properly, you don’t use the Wildcat. Otherwise every team in the league would have some form of it, including Green Bay and New England and New Orleans. If they (the Jets) get to where they’re very efficient offensively, they may not use it. Why would you? Simply to make the other teams keep preparing?

“I expect Mark to bite the bullet, go to work and give it his all and try to be the best that he’s been in his young quarterbacking career. And that’s all he can do. It’s tough for them, though, because factually things are distractions. These distractions set these teams back. They’re spending time thinking about what’s going to happen, what could have happened, answering questions, rather than thinking about their work. This is in fact going to be a distraction that players on the team (have to deal with it). They like to say, ‘Oh, our team can handle it, they’ve done ‘Hard Knocks,’ but these distractions interfere with the best efforts you’d like to have.”

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