Jets' locker room split on Sanchez

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Jets' locker room split on Sanchez

From Comcast SportsNet

NEW YORK (AP)The fallout from the New York Jets failing to make the NFL playoffs is in full swing, with members of coach Rex Ryans staff leaving, players taking shots at quarterback Mark Sanchez and other players defending him.

In less than 24 hours, the coaching staff was shaken up with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer walking away, former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano replacing him, and a few assistants saying they wont be back.

Now the latest controversy involves the shaky status of Sanchez.

Some of his teammates say he lacks the work ethic and leadership skills to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl. And with a new offensive coordinator in charge, the window for Sanchez to do so might have gotten a lot smaller.

Mark is heading in the right direction, left guard Matt Slauson said during a telephone interview Wednesday. He is going to be a great quarterback and I really believe he can lead us to a championship. His rookie year, we went to the AFC championship and again last year. The guy can do it. He can get it done. The rest of the team has to do their part, too.

The Daily News quoted one player, who was not identified, as saying Sanchez was lazy and content. Another player suggested the Jets should do all they can to try to bring in Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, if hes healthy, because Sanchez isnt improving.

Whoever said all that, theyre out of their minds and just trippin, defensive lineman Marcus Dixon said. You cant blame a season on one guy. I mean, come on. Its all unfair. We have Mark Sanchez. Hes our quarterback. Hes our guy. And thats how just about everyone in that locker room feels.

Sanchezs older brother Nick, who is also one of his agents, told The Associated Press in an email that the quarterback was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Center Nick Mangold defended Sanchez on Twitter and then during a radio interview, saying he very much so, 100 percent believes in Sanchez.

I would say definitely the majority of the team feels the same way about Mark, Slauson added. I dont know who said those things, but I would definitely say its a small, small portion of the team that doesnt have confidence in Mark.

Dixon pointed out that Sanchez has gathered the teams running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and other quarterbacks in Southern California at his old high school the past few offseasons to work on team chemistry and camaraderie much of it on his own dime.

If thats someone who doesnt know how to be a leader or have a good work ethic, then I dont know, man, Dixon said.

There were whispers in the locker room that Sanchez lost the ability to lead late in the season because of his struggles reading defenses and being accurate. Not so, says Slauson.

I thought he took tremendous strides this year as a leader, Slauson said. The problem was the situation we were in made it tough for everyone. I mean, it was such a strange and bizarre year for us, but he was one of the only ones who was there stepping up and taking charge, telling us, Look guys, we can do this. Follow me.

Retired Jets right tackle Damien Woody, now an analyst for ESPN, said he thinks the team does baby Sanchez to an extent and 41-year-old backup Mark Brunell never provided a true threat to Sanchez.

They definitely need to bring in a viable backup, a viable backup to really provide that competition, because with competition, you are going to rise or you are just going to crumble, Woody said while at the Giants training facility. So I think you bring in a viable backup and let it play out. Well see which Mark Sanchez shows up after that.

As for Manning coming to the Jets, its certainly intriguing, but highly unlikely. For one, hes coming off a neck injury that sidelined him the entire season.

The Jets could gamble on bringing him in and hoping he stays healthy, of course. But theres also little chance New York could keep both Manning and Sanchez because of the financial ramifications. Another consideration: what it would do to Sanchezs confidence.

Its also unlikely the team would give up so soon on a player it had such high hopes for when he was drafted fifth overall in 2009.

While his numberspassing accuracy, quarterback rating, yards per pass have been mediocre, the argument could be made that Ryan needs to share some of the blame for it. And it didnt help that he guaranteed a Super Bowl win this season.

Ryan raved about the amount of talent on the team, and was excited about having the potential to have Sanchez throw the ball more often with Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason joining Holmes during training camp. After two years of a run-first mentality, Ryan envisioned Sanchez airing it out.

But it didnt work.

The offensive line was shaky, Sanchez was sacked 39 times for the season, and the wide receivers never truly were in sync with the quarterback as Ryan insisted the Jets go back to the Ground-and-Pound. The offense finished the season 25th overall.

Next came finger-pointing and whispers that the team would be better off without Sanchez.

It is definitely really disheartening that some players are coming out and want their names protected and all that, and theyre talking bad about our team and organization, Slauson said. That isnt how its supposed to be done. All I hope for them is that they stay anonymous because things wont end well for them if that ever comes out. Bad mouthing the team and the organization, that could be grounds for losing their jobs. Im not saying anything will be done, but it would be bad to know exactly who it was because I wouldnt be able to look that guy in the eye the same way again.

Mark is the hardest-working quarterback Ive ever worked with, Slauson said. I mean, he is there all day long. He doesnt have an outside life, Im telling you. His whole life is about winning and improving the team. He cares so much and you can see it every day. I really do think he is a great player.

He should get a boost from working with Sparano, who loves to run the ball. That type of system could suit Sanchez perfectly, as it did his first two years.

We all believe in him, Slauson said. We really do. We just need to do a better job of executing on earlier downs so we can help make Mark look like the stud he really is.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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