Jets OC: Sanchez has 'leg up' in QB competitionBy DENNIS WASZAK Jr. , Associated Press
Mar. 11, 2013 7:51 PM ET
NEW YORK (AP) — Mark Sanchez is still No. 1 on the New York Jets' quarterback depth chart, and will remain there — for now.
Recently hired offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg expects the Jets to have an open competition at quarterback this offseason, even though Sanchez starts with a slight edge.
"Mark will probably have just a little bit of a leg up, it would appear," Mornhinweg said Monday during a conference call a few hours before the team signed veteran David Garrard. "I would like to have competition at that position as well as all the other positions. There are a select few on this football team that have kind of earned the right to step in there as No. 1 on the depth chart.
"But I certainly would like competition at all the other spots, including the quarterback spot."
The maligned Sanchez, who was benched by coach Rex Ryan late last season, will remain with the Jets, in large part due to the $8.25 million in guarantees he's owed this year. He struggled mightily last season, appearing to lose confidence as he threw 18 interceptions and just 13 touchdowns.
Despite all that, Mornhinweg insisted that Sanchez doesn't need to be "fixed" to build on the success he had in his first two seasons in 2009 and 2010 while leading the Jets to consecutive AFC title games.
"I'm not sure that's a term, that he needs to be 'fixed,'" said Mornhinweg, who was hired in January to replace the fired Tony Sparano. "Mark's got a lot of strengths. He has shown he can play at a high level. Our job is to get him to play at a high level on a consistent basis."
The 35-year-old Garrard, who has not played in the NFL since 2010, gives the Jets a veteran who could back up Sanchez and potentially challenge him for the job. He started 76 games in nine seasons with Jacksonville, and was with Miami last summer before a knee issue required surgery.
Mornhinweg, who spent the past 10 years with Philadelphia, added that he would tailor his offense around his players' strengths — including Sanchez, if he indeed wins the quarterback job.
New general manager John Idzik recently said he expects to bring in competition for every spot on the roster, including quarterback. The Jets already have Sanchez, Garrard, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms under contract, and might have interest in Brady Quinn.
Tebow's time might be ending, though, as it is generally believed he will be traded or released soon after one disappointing and unproductive season in New York. Mornhinweg said he has already had "a long discussion" with Tebow about his role with the Jets, but chose to keep the conversation private.
"He's got my thoughts on the situation and he has some thoughts, as well," Mornhinweg said. "If he's on this football team, which he is right now, then I would do it a certain way and try to utilize all our players that would help us win a football game."
Although Mornhinweg's specialty is running a West Coast offense, which would appear to not suit Tebow, the coordinator insisted he would find a way to use the former Heisman Trophy winner — something Sparano was unable to do last season. Tebow ran for just 102 yards, went 6-of-8 passing for 39 yards and stunningly scored zero touchdowns after being acquired in a trade last March from Denver.
"The man can play football," Mornhinweg said. "How you utilize him would certainly be the key. He's on our football team right now, so it's my duty and responsibility to have some thoughts on how he could help us win the next football game."
Mornhinweg also believes Tebow "has some quarterback skills," despite many fans and media saying he might need to permanently switch positions to fullback or tight end to remain in the NFL.
"As a quarterback, the gut instincts are real important," Mornhinweg said, "and he certainly has that."
Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, promoted from secondary coach to replace the departed Mike Pettine, didn't want to comment on trade speculation involving cornerback Darrelle Revis. The fact is Thurman isn't sure whether he'll have Revis when the season starts — and he doesn't want to concern himself with rumors at this point.
"We coach the guys we have," Thurman said. "I was always taught to not getting overly emotional about losing a guy. In terms of Darrelle getting hurt last year, we had to move on and we had to continue to play. They're not going to cancel the games.
"Our mindset is: We coach who's here."
Revis is recovering from a torn knee ligament that sidelined him most of last season, but is entering the final year of his contract and would like to be the highest-paid defensive back in the NFL. There has been rampant speculation that the Jets would prefer to get something back for Revis in a trade if they feel they won't be able to sign him after this season. Revis, however, has never asked to be traded and has repeatedly said he would prefer to remain with the Jets.
Thurman is close with Revis, but said he hasn't spoken to him recently about the situation.
"I think our GM, our coach and people above me will make that decision," Thurman said.
Notes: The Jets officially announced they re-signed LB Josh Mauga to a one-year deal. Mauga, a key backup and special teams performer, missed 11 games last season with a torn pectoral muscle and was a restricted free agent. ... Mornhinweg hasn't spoken to WR Santonio Holmes, who missed most of the season with a serious foot injury, but is encouraged by what he has heard of his recovery process. "I would expect him to be healthy at some point before training camp," Mornhinweg said. ... Thurman said he and Ryan haven't discussed who will be making the majority of the calls on defense. "It doesn't really matter to me who calls it," Thurman said. "If Rex wants to call it, that's fine with me. I'll have my input." ... Ben Kotwica, promoted to special teams coordinator after Mike Westhoff retired, praised K Nick Folk, scheduled to be a free agent, but added: "I don't know how things are going to shake out in the future."