Mark Sanchez insists there's no feud between him and star receiver Santonio Holmes.
"It got blown out more than it needed to," the quarterback said this evening at an event for he Randall's Island Sports Foundation in at Skylight Soho in Manhattan. "But I think after underachieving, as competitive as we are, we were frustrated. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I think learning from that is most important, coming back stronger next year is most important and that’s our main objective."
Sanchez said he's been talking "quite a bit" with Holmes, whom he visited in a Orlando few weeks ago.
"When I got the chance to see him for a couple of days, he was the same old guy like our first year together, a guy who won a bunch of games for us in the closing seconds of games," Sanchez said. "So I know it can work between us. It’s not a matter of it. It’s a matter of when and that’s now and I’m thrilled about that."
Perhaps, but why stay so quiet during the last few months, allowing the story to gain steam?
"I think part of it was, if I start commenting on this and then something else comes up and then it's, 'OK, now there's something else to talk about,' " he said. "It's the offseason, get away for a while. Leave it, let it all run its course, come back when the time's right, start working out, talk to everybody on the team, talk to guys that I needed to talk to, figure out what went wrong.
"I needed to assess things on my own before I get too caught up in 'somebody said this, somebody said that.' I had my own self-evaluation, look at the season, analyze it, 'OK, I know I could've done better. OK, let's take all this in, let's talk about it, and move on.' "
Asked about his thoughts on Holmes' benching in Miami, Sanchez said: "Looking back, obviously hindsight is 20-20. ‘Well, why did that happen? This and that. This should have happened, that shouldn’t have happened. Whatever.’ But the fact is we talked about it. We both had strong feelings about it and we got a chance to really sit down and address a lot of issues. So, it was good."
Sanchez said it wasn't frustrating to hear the constant chatter.
"No, because I still think no matter what you say, whether I come back to try to defend myself or not, it doesn't matter -- unless you go win games. That's the ultimate defense. Go win games next year and play well, and this is all a distant memory and a great lesson. You've got to understand it's not going to be as fun of an offseason right away when you don't make the playoffs around here, especially here because of the body of work we put together the first two seasons.
"Just like they were saying, 'He's an elite quarterback,' in my rookie year, it was like, 'What? I threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.' And now, it's, 'Get him out of here. Let's get Peyton [Manning].' Ok, let's keep it all in perspective, just stay right in the middle and come back strong."
Still, he also insisted again he wasn't bothered by the Jets' pursuit of Manning.
"I’m not the biggest ego guy," Sanchez said. "There’s probably 25 other teams that did the same thing and all 25 of those teams had starters last year. So there is a business side to this whole thing and for a team not to look is crazy – whether it’s us or anybody.
"You’ve got to do your due diligence as a team and try to better your spot. But like I said, our negotiations with the team were going on pretty soon after the season. The only thing I could really control is getting away for a while, relaxing, starting my workouts and be ready for April 16 and go into this year ready to play. It didn’t bother me."
Sanchez said he never lost confidence last season despite turning the ball over 28 times and taking a bevy of hits in the pocket.
"Not at all. It’s a physical game, we all know that. Some years, you get hit more than others. Some years you get hit more than others. I talk with my dad about things and I’m on vacation getting away and I’m like, ‘Man, do you remember when we were playing the Redskins ?’ That’s how I talk to him. I’m like, ‘Can you imagine if we went 8-8 my first year and then go to the AFC Championship these next two years?’ It would be three pretty solid years.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but you didn’t.’ I’m like, ‘Thanks, dad. I’ll call you later.’ ”
He did admit, though, that the Jets tried a bit too hard to incorporate some of their new weapons -- like wideouts Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason.
"I just felt like we lost some of our identity because we were so enamored with a bunch of a new players. ‘Ok, let’s figure out how to use these guys and that can happen. That can totally happen. So that’s understandable, understandable why you get excited about players like that. When you see their resume, it’s like, 'We’ve got to get these guys the ball.'
"I think we fell victim to that and it was a good learning experience for all of us.”
Sanchez thinks backup quarterback Greg McElroy might've learned a thing or two as well with his comments about the Jets' locker room being a toxix environment filled with corrupt-minded individuals.
"I think Greg got a little ahead of himself," Sanchez said. I think he tried to analyze the situation and he had some strong feelings on it apparently. We’ll give him a hard time when he gets back, but other than that, that’s just one guy's opinion."
Sanchez also addressed Brian Schottenheimer's depature for the first time.
"We had some great years together, some great championship runs together," he said. "He taught me so much, especially my first couple of years. That's somebody you hold near and dear to your heart, both him and his family, and how supportive they were through the best of times and the worst of times. I think the world of Coach Schottenheimer and I'm excited for Sam Bradford to get to work with him."
Was Schottenheimer a scapegoat?
"I don't know," Sanchez said. "I think the decisions were made, really, on both sides. Both sides were OK with what was going on, and they were ready to move on. Other than that, I just remember all the great times we had. I don't think it was a matter of him being a scapegoat or not. That wasn't the only reason we lost games.
"Was everybody responsible? Sure. Did I turn the ball over too many times? Absolutely. Did he make every perfect playcall? Of course not. Nobody does, whether you win the Super Bowl or not. It's just not realistic, but I don't think it was his fault and get him out of here."
As for free agents, like running back Mike Tolbert saying they weren't sure they wanted to play for the Jets because of the "circus" atmosphere, Sanchez didn't seem like he was buying into that.
"I think the last two offseasons, everybody wanted to come here," he said. "We don't play well as well last year and now some guys are outspoken about it and it's suddenly not a good place? We've got to keep it in perspective. The guys who come here know how much this team cares about winning. We have an owner who does everything for us, anything possible to give us a competitive edge, a head coach who's working tirelessly -- whether it's say more, say less -- whatever he can do to try to get better and I think players see that.
"From an outside perspective, I'm sure it did look a little hectic here, but that's what happens when guys are outspoken about some of the negative things that go on in the organization, but that's the way it goes. I think anybody coming here would love it here."