FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mark Sanchez is too busy learning the West Coast offence to be overly concerned with East Coast rumours.
The New York Jets’ quarterback arrived at the team’s training facility Monday fresh from some private sessions with Jeff Garcia, who mastered that offence with several teams. Sanchez immediately was asked about reports his name was mentioned in trade talks between the Jets and Tampa Bay.
All Sanchez knew was what he "heard from people around, and I don’t know what to say."
"That is more of an upstairs question," he added. "I’m not worried about that."
Asked if Jets management had given him any clarification on trade talk, Sanchez simply said, "No."
The Bucs have shown interest in Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis, whose contract is up after the upcoming season. Sanchez reportedly was mentioned in trade talks between the clubs.
Sanchez is headed into his fifth season with the Jets, likely a make-or-break year for him. Since leading the Jets to the AFC championship game in each of his first two seasons, Sanchez has struggled mightily, particularly with turnovers. In 2012, as the Jets plummeted to 6-10, he threw for 13 touchdowns and was intercepted 18 times. He looked indecisive at times and, worse, when he didn’t hesitate, he often should have.
But the Jets are hamstrung by Sanchez’s deal that guarantees him $8.25 million for 2013. Rather than eat the contract and a subsequent salary-cap hit of $17.1 million, the team kept Sanchez, then added journeyman David Garrard to compete for the job. They are expected to release Tim Tebow soon.
Sanchez believes he’ll get a fresh start next season.
"We’re big on competition, that really is the theme heading into this year, and I really understand that and think it will bring out the best in everyone on the team, and I totally respect that," he said. "I’m preparing to play well for this team and do everything I possibly can in my control to be the best quarterback on the roster and play well."
To that end, he’s been working with Garcia in California, where both of them live. Garcia has great familiarity with the West Coast offence that new Jets co-ordinator Marty Mornhinweg will oversee.
Sanchez said he’s picked Garcia’s brains about the nuances of the offence, and to get a jumpstart on keeping his job by being well-versed in its schemes. He also recognizes that not everything Garcia can show him applies to how Mornhinweg implements the offence.
"I am coming in to compete and be the best player I can," Sanchez said. "That’s my only focus. The first thing to do is learn this offence inside and out, go out and be the best guy, the best decision maker.
"I enjoy being here; Rex (Ryan) and I have had some real success here, this organization has had some success. … It’s a great place to play, especially when you’re winning, and it’s tough when things are not going your way."
Many believe very little will go the Jets’ way this year as they rebuild under new general manager John Idzik, and with Ryan clearly needing a turnaround to have any job security. Several starters have left or are free agents, including tight end Dustin Keller, guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson and running back Shonn Greene from the offence alone.
Of course, the Jets weren’t a contender with those players last year, either.
"It’s a new year, and I’m excited to see the kind of team we have when all is said and done," Sanchez said. "I’m excited to see how all that pans out."