All offseason we heard about how Rex Ryan's hiring was going to bring some much needed swagger to the Jets. The coach brimmed with confidence and probably stepped over the line to cockiness when he said he planned on shaking President Obama's hand after winning the Super Bowl. Everyone ate it up, from the fans to the press to his players.
So why isn't it the same for Mark Sanchez? The rookie quarterback's battle for the starting job with Kellen Clemens has been the centerpiece of Jets training camp, and Tom Curran of NBCSports.com found that the young fella is rubbing some the wrong way with his naked pursuit of the starting job. Curran writes that Sanchez's confidence comes with an air of entitlement and that he's been guilty of being too eager to be the man under center on day one.
"And there is no arguing that Mark Sanchez is the Jets quarterback of the future. But he wants to be the quarterback of the immediate future. Now. Today. Yesterday. But if he wants to get the backing of his teammates — and Clemens — he needs to remember three words every quarterback knows by heart. Don’t force it."
What's the alternative? A shrinking violet who doesn't think he's ready to play in the NFL? That would be a wonderful player to take with the sixth overall pick of the draft. Sanchez isn't just trying to get the backing of his teammates, he's trying to win a job and it's inane to think that there's not a political part of the process.
Curran's analysis is based on solid reporting, including a quote from D'Brickashaw Ferguson heaping praise on Clemens. You could read that as a preference or, again, you could wonder what the alternative would be? Ferguson also praised Sanchez and he isn't going to go on record with something negative to say about either player. Furthermore, he isn't going to stop blocking pass rushers if Sanchez starts so it seems to be a bit of a moot point.
Clemens is getting as many, if not more, chances as Sanchez to prove he's the right guy for the job. But just as Sanchez has to prove he's the right guy, Clemens does as well. Starting Clemens to teach Sanchez a lesson in humility comes at the expense of the football team, just as starting Sanchez to justify drafting him comes at the expense of the football team. The better guy should start, and there isn't any indication that isn't the way the Jets will go when all is said and done.
As for the backing of his teammates, that's an easy thing to gain. Sanchez needs to win. Winning turns arrogance into confidence overnight, it makes someone with a sense of entitlement into a leader and it puts a quick stop to any questions about attitude. Win enough games and guys will follow you into the gates of hell.