CORTLAND – Every so often, Mark Sanchez catches them hanging on his every pass – and every mistake.
Not the Jets fans in the bleachers, but the office workers you’d typically see upstairs at 1 Jets Drive.
“When you take a step back or you’re sipping water and you just kind of give a glance around, it’s like: ‘Doesn’t that guy work upstairs? What’s he doing out here?”
For much of his Jet career, Sanchez has come to training camp knowing the quarterback position belongs to him. But the arrival of rookie Geno Smith this offseason has brought Sanchez’s once-secure status into question. And the battle to be the best between the two QBs has piqued everyone’s interest within the organization.
“It’s a lot like my rookie year,” Sanchez said, referring to his training camp competition with ex-Jet Kellen Clemens in 2009. “Everybody from the front office and everyone who works upstairs that you rarely see is out there with their notepads.
“And you’re doing warm-ups or throwing like, pat-and-go or easy-ups and you complete the ball and you see them [taking notes]. Every throw, every handoff. You guys too, but that’s your job. It’s just funny to see everybody else out there charting stuff.
"Everything’s under scrutiny, there’s a ton of pressure but that’s the way you like it, that’s why you play the position and it makes it fun.”
Wednesday was Day 5 of training camp for the Jets – and not a particularly good day for Sanchez.
While Smith (6-of-9, two sacks) handled himself pretty well against the first-team defense, Sanchez struggled. He completed just 3-of-10 passes, while throwing a touchdown to Hill and an interception to Antonio Cromartie.
But the fifth-year QB said he felt good about his performance and that of the offense on Wednesday. “At the end of the day, sure, you want your numbers to be high,” he said. “But there’s always specific circumstances that lead to whatever stats there are. And you don’t want to make excuses, but you know exactly why certain things happen the way they do. And that’s why we watch the film, that’s why we meet together and at the end of the day, it’s the coaches and players that matter the most. No offense to you guys. We’ve just got to be on top of those things ourselves.”
During June minicamp, Sanchez made it clear the starting job was his to lose. But while he insisted Wednesday that he’s as confident as ever, Sanchez’s words seemed to have far less force behind them.
Asked if he feels like the underdog, he replied with a smile: “I don’t know. It depends on who you ask. I’m not really worried about it. I feel good. I feel comfortable. My arm feels good, I feel strong, my legs are working. (Quarterbacks) Coach (David) Lee’s got us conditioning like crazy, so I feel like I’m in good shape. Just keep pushing, keep competing and control what I can."
So does Sanchez feel like he’s ahead in the QB race?
“Um, I don’t know. Ask the coaches," he said. "I feel good though. I feel confident. And I feel like I’m playing really well.”