Jets' locker room split on Sanchez


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.

Kris Bryant earns prestigious Hank Aaron Award as NL's top hitter

Kris Bryant earns prestigious Hank Aaron Award as NL's top hitter

CLEVELAND - The World Series isn't over yet, but the awards are already rolling in for the Cubs.

Kris Bryant was named the Hank Aaron Award winner Wednesday evening, an accolade for the best hitter in each league. Aaron was on hand at the World Series in Cleveland to hand the award to Bryant.

Bryant led the National League with 121 runs scored while also slugging 39 homers and driving in 102 runs. He hit .292 with a .385 on-base percentage and .554 slugging percentage (for a .939 OPS).

“Well, it’s ‘Hammerin’ KB,’” manager Joe Maddon said. “Just be a young player in KB’s shoes, and to win that award and then have that particular man present it to you, it’s impressive. It’s very impressive at a young age to be considered and then win it. There’s a lot of great competition out there."

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

After winning Rookie of the Year honors last season, Bryant may also be in line for the NL MVP this year as the anchor of a 103-win Cubs team.

“An award like this for KB could absolutely galvanize his thoughts about himself as a Major League Baseball player," Maddon said. "It’s a great achievement for him. I’m very happy for him. And I know he will humbly accept it in the right way.”

Josh Donaldson was the American League winner last season while Bryce Harper took home the NL honors.

Bryant is the second Cubs player to win the award after Sammy Sosa in 1999 (the first ever Hank Aaron Award). That season, Sosa hit 63 homers with 141 RBI, 114 rusn and a 1.002 OPS.

MLB official: World Series Game 2 to 'start on time' despite potential rain

MLB official: World Series Game 2 to 'start on time' despite potential rain

CLEVELAND -- Game 2 of the World Series is on -- for now.

With rain forecast for late Wednesday night, Major League Baseball officials said they have a contingency plan in place to suspend the contest in case it is disrupted by weather. MLB has only suspended one other World Series contest, Game 5 of the 2008 edition between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies.

MLB already made an early decision Tuesday to move up Wednesday’s start time by an hour to 6:08 p.m. CST in order to improve chances of avoiding the weather. The current forecast calls for steady rain to start falling at 9 p.m. CST.

“The plan right now is to start on time,” said MLB’s Peter Woodfork. “Right now we hope it’s light, nothing heavy.

“As long as the field holds up, the integrity of the field, we’ll continue to play. If something happens and we can’t go, we’ll pull the tarp and see where we’re at. Most likely if it’s that heavy, we’re going to have to suspend the game and finish tomorrow.”

Woodfork said MLB wouldn’t announce a potential re-start for Game 2 until later Wednesday night, if necessary.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Cubs manager Joe Maddon and utility man Ben Zobrist were part of the 2008 Tampa Bay squad that waited two days for Game 5 to resume. Maddon said the Rays had already checked out of their hotel in preparation for the return trip to Tampa Bay for Game 6 and didn’t find a new hotel until after 1 a.m.

“You just have to play the game,” Maddon said. “There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. It’s one of those uncontrollable components. The game in Philadelphia was pretty severe. I don’t think it’s going to be Philadelphia-like weather conditions tonight. That game was very awkward to play. The rain was horizontal. It was freezing. There was actually standing water on the field.”

Woodfork said the current plan calls for Game 3 to begin on time in Chicago on Friday regardless if Thursday’s travel day is wiped out by a resumed game.

“When you’re playing the World Series, the weather is secondary,” Zobrist said.