Mark Sanchez knows all about the parallel drawn between his play and the Jets' plight each week. And he's not about to shy away from it, especially entering his third season as the face of the franchise.
The signal-caller fully admitted that the level of his improvement from a season ago will help determine just how far the Jets will go in 2011.
"Oh that’s going to be it every year, especially these first few," Sanchez said after the Jets' walkthrough here in Florham Park, N.J. this morning, their first practice of training camp. "It’s my improvement that determines any kind of ceiling this team can have and our potential.
"We have all potential in the world and now it’s time to realize that. For me to step up my game and up my completion percentage early in the game and cut back on the interceptions. They’ve got to be in the single digits and we’ll go from there."
In a genuine moment, Sanchez offered up what some thought would -- and did -- happen a season ago, simply because the Jets had so many capable offensive weapons. There was always the question of going out of his way to appease one receiver over another, and Sanchez said it did happen at times.
"I think that’s natural and I’m not afraid to admit that," he said. "As a young guy, you see all these superstars around and it’s, 'Let’s get so-and-so a catch in the first quarter to make sure he’s happy. Oh yeah, Dustin [Keller] is in there, let me try to fit this ball down the field.'
"Well, hey look, I’ve got to go through my reads and I’m accountable for the entire team, to our left tackle to our center Nick Mangold. All of them. So I’ve got to do my job and the catches will come."
So that means not trying to force the ball to anyone, including new acquisition Plaxico Burress.
"I think that’s the most important thing, is respecting each other," Sanchez said. "We’ll be competitors. I know he’s a tough competitor and he wants the ball and that’s good. But so does Santonio [Holmes] and so does Jerricho [Cotchery]. So it’s my job to throw to the open guy. Don’t just pick a favorite from Day. 1, just throw to the open guy.
"But it’s also not my job to keep everybody happy. It’s my job to demand respect and get their best. When we get into those heated moments, we’ve got to understand it’s not personal and we’re trying to win a game. That’s the bottom line."
That's why Sanchez, who Rex Ryan already named the offensive captain, has plans to take on more of a vocal role this season and be that leader Ryan is looking for.
"Maybe this first couple of years I haven’t been sure about what to say and when to say it, and now it’s time to go, go with you’re instincts and mean it," Sanchez said. "Just demand everybody’s respect and demand their best play on the field, and that means I need to have all my stuff in order.
"And that’s what this camp is all about."