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Sanchez anxious to bounce back

Mark Sanchez knows he has to have a slingshot type of mentality.

His job calls for him to quickly snap right back into it, shake off the brutal effort turned in against the Patriots six days ago and look more like the quarterback who engineered all those game-winning last-minute drives for the Jets, not the one who's been shaky of late.

"That's sometimes the toughest thing, bouncing back after a tough game," Sanchez said. "That's kind of expected. You're supposed to, but keeping it going over a long period of time, staying consistent, I think that's one of the toughest things. We'll bounce back this week and keep it going."

Sanchez got off to that sizzling start this season, throwing eight touchdown passes without an interception in his first five games. But now he's seemingly strapped himself into a seat on a roller coaster. He's again dealing with up-and-down performances that have prompted questions about whether he's more of the problem for a sputtering offense, and if he can get the job done in cold weather.

Sanchez has been turnover- prone and hasn't been as sharp as he was at the season's outset. He found the rhythm just in time in the closing minutes during the Jets' four-game winning streak, but that was snapped by that 45-3 drubbing delivered by the Patriots on Monday.

He's thrown at least one interception in his last seven games - 11 overall in that span - and had a hat trick against New England, two of which came in the red zone, the first two times he's done that all season.

It's not exactly the type of production the Jets (9-3) are looking for as they embark on their four-game stretch to end the regular season, starting with today's AFC East matchup with the Dolphins (6-6) at New Meadowlands Stadium.

"These turnovers need to get cut down," Sanchez said. "There's no two ways about it, just better decisions sometimes. Accuracy in tough weather is going to be important. Accuracy in this league is really at a premium."

That's why Sanchez emphasized the fundamentals in practice this past week, focusing on his footwork and decision-making. He still has a way to go with zipping through his reads and progressions, but he's vastly improved in that area.

"He sees things better," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "He comes off the field now and before even looking at the picture, he can actually tell me, 'Hey, I saw this guy go back to the middle, which is what took me over there.' . . . He's understanding coverages. He sees every coverage known to man from our defense. That's helped him, but there's always room for improvement."

Just to help make sure that improvement occurs sooner rather than later, coach Rex Ryan met with his quarterback Thursday. He figured the least he could do was offer some thoughts about what he might expect against the Dolphins and then the Steelers next Sunday, given that he's familiar with the philosophies of both teams' defensive coordinators.

"I just think, 'Give him a different perspective,' " Ryan said. "Make sure that he knows exactly what I'm seeing as a defensive coach. If there's some things that he can pick up on, then that's great. But I know [Dolphins coach] Mike Nolan well and I know [Steelers coach] Dick Lebeau well. So, maybe the next two weeks, we'll see if that helps."

Brandon Moore knows something that would help.

"The guys around him kind of rallying around and stepping up our game," the offensive lineman said. "People highlight him because he's the quarterback, but there's also some things - up front, and on the perimeter, in the backfield - that weren't as clean as they should be probably to help him, which is what leads to maybe his performance not being as it should be.

"So I don't really look at it as 'how will he bounce back?' but 'how will we step up and protect him better?' to give him more time or help him in the running game, and being able to establish that and make it easy for him."

Whatever the formula, Sanchez and the Jets need to find it again quickly, and he appears confident they'll get on track against the Dolphins.

"It's just a matter of wanting to play better for the guys around you and get the best out of everybody around you," Sanchez said. "It's a collective effort. It was a collective loss last week and we're looking for a collective win. We'll get it as a group. We'll do it right. Everybody will bounce back, not just me. So I'm excited about that."

New York Sports