Jets' Sanchez on hot seat

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Being called an overpaid bum by some greasy janitor from Hackensack sitting in the nosebleeds at the New Meadowlands Stadium, well, that’s part of life for any New York Jets quarterback.

Having your offence slagged by a New York sporting legend named Broadway Joe Namath, a man who once pretty much owned The City That Never Sleeps, well, that’s a much more difficult situation to ignore.

Welcome to the life of young embattled Mark Sanchez.

Bad enough that the Sanchez-led Jets offence could scratch out only six measly first downs in a 10-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, a game in which the second-year quarterback completed just 10-of-21 passes for 74 yards.

But imagine his surprise — or shock, as it were — at discovering that Joe Willie, via his twitter account, was criticizing the team’s inability to score.

“The Jets are playing with a conservative play-calling style, which falls on the shoulders of the coaches — the poor execution doesn’t,” Namath tweeted.

While he wasn’t singled out per se, Sanchez, as the quarterback, is the team’s offensive leader. As such, it would have been understandable for him to react by emotionally lashing back at Namath.

Instead, showing poise far beyond his 23 years of age, Sanchez exhibited remarkable composure in reacting to Namath’s accusations.

If the kid could only show such composure on the field.

“I just feel like it’s a bit early to hit the panic button,” Sanchez said when asked about Namath’s barbs.

“Don’t read into it too much. It was a bad game, poor execution, too many penalties and we had a couple of plays downfield that got called back and didn’t work out.

“That’s (Namath) being a fan and being part of the organization and wanting us to do well. We understand that. That’s awesome. We love his support.

“We all feel the same way. (We were) all just frustrated. That’s OK. As competitors, it’s OK. Now, we need to just go out and fix it.”

Maybe Sanchez figured that answer would get the sceptics to lighten up on the Jets.

No such luck.

On Thursday, during his regular news conference, Jets coach Rex Ryan was informed by a reporter that former star New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi had taken shots at Sanchez during a radio interview.

According to the report, Bruschi allegedly suggested Sanchez is a frontrunner who is fine when his team is in the lead but “tanks it” when things go bad.

Ouch.

“I respect the heck out of Tedy Bruschi ... but I think he would have a different opinion if he were here every day,” Ryan responded.

“I think he would feel much different if he were here because of the way (Sanchez) leads on the practice field (and) the personality he has. What (Bruschi) says about (Sanchez) when we get ahead, that’s how he is every day on the practice field. It never went our way Monday night, but I would definitely not put Mark in a front-running category.

“This guy is a competitor and I think Bruschi would have loved to play with him.”

Sanchez will get an opportunity to shut up the critics come Sunday when the rival New England Patriots come to the New Meadowlands Stadium.

It is a bitter AFC rivalry that causes the blood on both sides to boil, as evidenced by Pats quarterback Tom Brady’s recent comments that he “hates the Jets.”

There are those who continue to feel Sanchez is an overhyped player who came from an overhyped college program at USC — or, as former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Warren Sapp recently referred to the institution, the University of Spoiled Children.

On the other hand, the Sanchez backers are quick to reject Namath’s comments, feeling he has turned into a pathetic clown. They back up their point by bringing up Namath’s sideline antics several years ago when, during an interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, a boozed-up Broadway Joe tried to elicit a smooch on national TV.

Whichever side you are on, if Sanchez produces another stinker Sunday, Namath’s and Bruschi’s claims both will gain credibility.

At the Jets expense.


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