FLORHAM PARK, NJ – ESPN analyst and former New England Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi had some strong words for the Jets second year quarterback when the two teams were preparing to face each other in September.

Bruschi called Mark Sanchez a “front-runner”, where he excels only when the team is executing. But when things aren’t going in their favor Bruschi believed Sanchez wouldn’t help pull his team out of the hole.

“When things go bad he tanks it, and that’s not something you want at your quarterback position,” Bruschi said.

His words caused somewhat of a media stir in New York, as it garnered enough attention to have head coach Rex Ryan bring it up in a press conference that week.

“I think [Bruschi] would have a different opinion if he was out here every day,” Ryan said. “What he says about [Sanchez] when we get ahead, that’s how he is every day here on the practice field.”

Sanchez’s play against the Patriots that week (21-30, 220 yards, 3 TDs) put Bruschi’s foot in his mouth. With Sanchez leading the Jets to a 9-2 start and in to Gillette Stadium Monday Night, Bruschi has found it timely to remove that foot.

“Rex was right. I really have watched Mark Sanchez closely from that point on, and I was wrong about calling him a front-runner. I was wrong to put that label on him. I’ve watched him and the leader he’s become, and the plays he’s made for this 9-2 first-place Jets team.

“Early in the season, I thought this team would do well based on its running game and solid defense. But there is another aspect of this team that has developed – and that’s the leadership and play they’ve received from the quarterback position and Mark Sanchez. I think he is a legitimate leader on that team. My front-runner label was wrong.”

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