The “Sanchize” gets a lesson in self-protection from a championship skipper

The Jets want rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to be a part of their organization for many, many years to come.

So it’s only natural that when a player the club has put it’s collective faith in sacrifices his body in a reckless manor, there’s other people than just the coach holding their breath.

Sanchez has hurled his body into the air on multiple occasions this season, and while this marks the toughness and intensity that are a few of his strong points, what the team has tried to emphasize to the young qb is that sometimes, you simply need to be smart.

And by smart, they mean taking a slide instead of leaping into the air or staying on your feet to take a bone-crunching hit.  But sometimes, a football coach simply can’t teach a quarterback how to properly execute a successful slide.   This is why, in the case of head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets, it pays to share their home city with the most prolific franchise in professional sports.

Ryan called in reinforcements for Tuesday morning’s workout, in the form of the newest World Series-winning manager, New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi.  Girardi visited the Florham complex to help teach Sanchez the finer points of the baseball slide that must become a part of the rookie’s repertoire if he wants to remain in one piece for the better part of his tenure with Gang Green, let alone the rest of his first season in New York.

“I told Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer), ‘I’m going over your head,'” Ryan said.  “I’m going over (Matt) Cavanaugh’s head.  I’m going over my head.  We’re bringing in a world champ to get this done.’  He (Sanchez) was running and learning to slide off his right leg.  He’s too valuable and he needs to understand that we need him out there and people are going to take shots at him if he doesn’t start sliding.  I really did want to make an emphasis to Mark and get the best guy that we can in the area.  I made a call today to the Yankees and I was really happy that Girardi came over and did that for us.”

Mark Sanchez got a surprise visitor today to help his sliding skills.
Mark Sanchez got a surprise visitor today to help his sliding skills.

After watching Girardi perform the move, Sanchez worked on his slide for about ten minutes on a sliding mat, and seemed to grow increasingly confident with the maneuver.  He seemd to show no ill effects from the knee injury he suffered during Sunday’s victory over Carolina, and participated fully in practice today.

“It meant a lot to me personally for him to come out, take time out of his schedule, his vacation and celebration time, to help me with something like sliding,” Sanchez said.  “There’s nobody better to get coaching from than him, especially in this area.”

“I’ve never really been a slider.  In baseball, I slid head first.  In football, I’ve done the same thing, or tried to get out of bounds or throw the ball away.  It’s something that you need to learn at this level.  Once you get the first down or as many yards as you need, just protect yourself and protect the ball and give yourself a chance to play.”

There’s no shame in taking care of yourself, and that’s an important lesson for Sanchez to learn.  He’s shown his toughness, both mentally and physically, throughout the course of his first season as a Jet, but he needs to learn that he’s more valuable to this team when he’s actually on the field.  That means taking care of his body when he has the chance, something any NFL player who’s had a long career has been able to master.  It’s all part of the maturation of Sanchez, but learning from someone who manages the World Champion Yankees has to make the process a little easier.  Only in New York can you find these types of teachers just a phone call away.


Sanchez, along with tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson (hamstring), safety Jim Leonhard (thumb), linebacker Calvin Pace (shoulder) and safety Eric Smith (back) all participated fully in practice today.   Defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee) was limited, and cornerbacks Donald Strickland (concussion) and and Dwight Lowery (ankle) and guard Robert Turner (knee) did not practice.


Thursday’s matchup between the Jets and Buffalo Bills will be the clubs’ second meeting this season, the first featuring a terrible game from the Jets’ signal caller.  So what’s the difference between this game and the first tilt for the qb?  Coach Ryan offered his thoughts Tuesday.

“You can’t buy experience,” he said.  “He went through that and I think he is a better quarterback now than he was then.  You play this game long enough, bad things are going to happen to you unfortunately.  I think he’s growing in the fact that he understands what we want from him.  Don’t force the issue.  If it’s not there, then find something else to do with the football.  Check it down.  Throw the incompletion.  Run with it.  Take a sack.  Anything is better than forcing the ball in particular times and i know he learned from that.”

It will be interesting to see how Sanchez, with his new color-coated wristband, will fare against a Buffalo defense that tortured him in their previous meeting.  If he can limit his mistakes, the Jets could find themselves at .500 by the night’s end, and in the thick of the AFC playoff race.

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