Mark Sanchez wasn't at his best in last year's season opener against the Ravens, engineering a sputtering offense that never quite kicked it into gear.
The third-year signal caller believes that can be attributed to one simple thing.
"I think last year, we were just trying too hard," Sanchez said following practice today. "You get that pressure from 'Hard Knocks' and you have to show the world everything you’ve got, and we have all these new players and we want to do so much."
They never did, though, mustering 176 total yards of offense in their 10-9 loss on "Monday Night Football" at New Meadowlands Stadium. Sanchez completed a modest 10 of 21 attempts for 74 yards and the Jets picked up just six first downs.
The Jets didn't take very good care of the ball that night, either, fumbling three times and losing it once. They were also penalized a total of 14 times for 125 yards, a sign they were too jumpy.
So Sanchez said the emphasis in Sunday's season opener against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium is to play their game, not let Dallas dictate what they are going to do.
"We just want to be ourselves and go with what you know," Sanchez said. "We are a good rushing team, but we can throw the ball when we need to. We are going to have great field position with our special teams, our defense is going to get the offense the ball back, and that’s it. Don’t get too cute. Don’t make anything up on gameday.
"Just play and have fun."
This year, he has a new batch of receivers to throw the ball to. With Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason joining Santonio Holmes, it's making for an adjustment for Sanchez, who's working with his third different set of wide receivers in as many seasons.
"Having a new group of wideouts has been a good challenge for me to try to demand out of guys that are much older and much more experienced," he said. "They’ve been around this league a long time, they’ve played with a lot of quarterbacks and it’s my turn to really take charge. So I think that’s been a great challenge for me and they’ve responded well.
"They know I’m working hard, they know that I mean well, that my intentions are good and when I get on them, it’s never personal, that I just want the best out of them and they understand that. They’re competitive guys. So that’s been a fun challenge for me and we’ll see how we do on Sunday."
He'll likely be going up against a banged up Cowboys secondary. Word out of Dallas is cornerbacks Terence Newman (groin) and Mike Jenkins (neck/knee) could be out, but Sanchez said the Jets aren't about to alter their approach if indeed Newman and Jenkins don't go.
"We don’t want to change too much," Sanchez said. "I think we have a good plan going into it and whoever suits up for them, we need to be ready to play. We have plenty of clips of all their defensive backs and they all look really good. So we just have to be smart, be accurate with the football and don’t give them a chance to make too many plays."