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NY Jets' Mark Sanchez has teammates who understand the pressure he is under

by Dave Hutchinson/The Star-Ledger

The questions and headlines still sting D'Brickashaw Ferguson. He even thinks about the negativity that marked the start of his career in the middle of games ... and suddenly his resolve gets that much stronger.

Ferguson, a coveted left tackle at the University of Virginia, was taken by the Jets with the fourth overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft. He was to anchor the offensive line for the next decade. He was to be the next great player at his position.

When it didn't happen immediately -- Ferguson yielded 10 sacks as a rookie and another 13 sacks the following year -- the whispers turned into shouts that the Jets made a horrible mistake.

"It was something I had to accept," Ferguson said last week. "I had to eat it. There was no getting around it. ... I think it's tougher in this market. You have people who are basically telling you that you suck. You can't get mad because that's not going to change anything.

"Around here, we talk about having skin like an armadillo,'' Ferguson said. "That's what you have to have."

Good advice for Ferguson to pass on to Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, the fifth overall pick this past spring and owner of a five-year, $50-million contract. Sanchez will make his NFL debut Sunday afternoon in Houston against the Texans amid similar, yet loftier, expectations.

By all accounts, the talent is there. But the key for Sanchez will be how he handles the scrutiny that comes with the peaks and valleys of being a rookie quarterback counted on to anchor a franchise.

"In drafting a player, you probably have less of an idea of how the pressure will affect them than anything else," said Charlie Casserly, a former NFL general manager and current CBS analyst. "It's hard enough to judge their talent level. And you're always doing background work on their character.

"But you never know how guys will react when they get in a fish bowl like this. The thing with Sanchez is he played in a major media market (in college at Southern Cal). People I talk to say he has the right make-up. Still, you never know how guys are going to handle it when things go bad."

DEALING WITH PRESSURE

Keyshawn Johnson, the former first overall pick of the Jets in 1996 out of USC, feels the 22-year-old Sanchez is ready -- not only to start at quarterback in the NFL, but to excel in the league's biggest market.

"Mark is built for New York," said Johnson, who thrived on the pressure while a Jet and says he never wanted to leave. "The pressure? Where is there more pressure than USC?"

In fact, Sanchez seems to be bracing himself for the good and bad. One of his idols, Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, went 1-15 as a rookie.

"If you go with just statistics, like (USC) Coach (Pete) Carroll said, 'Rookies don't pan out, dude, especially guys coming out early and guys who haven't played in the cold,'" said Sanchez, who started just 16 games in college. "If you go with just the stats, then I probably won't make it.''

The thing that Sanchez has going for him is poise and a plan. He is, of course, surrounded by an outstanding offensive line, a stout running game, solid special teams and what could be a dynamic defense.

"I think the biggest thing for him is to not try to do too much," said Giants backup quarterback David Carr, who never quite panned out after being the first overall pick by the Texans in 2002. "Hopefully, the coaches are telling him the same thing. ... I would tell myself to chill out (if he could do it again). All that stuff, it just takes experience. It's something he's not going to have until he goes through it."

Casserly said Carr had plenty of moxie and skill, he just didn't have much of an offensive line and got clobbered every Sunday. "It's no question Carr had the mental toughness," Casserly said.

Jets coach Rex Ryan saw the rookie quarterback experiment work in Baltimore with Joe Flacco and is working from the same script.

"I feel like coming to the Jets and working with Coach Ryan and the veteran leadership on the team ... those are all breaks that have gone my way," said Sanchez. "Things I didn't have to do that just happened."

Things don't always fall into place for high draft picks. Thomas Jones was taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the seventh pick overall in the 2000 draft. The then-dysfunctional franchise went 15-33 in his first three seasons. Jones rushed for just 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns during that stretch and became the organization's scapegoat.

The Cardinals went so far as to suggest Jones was faking an injury and even sent him to a psychiatrist. Turns out he had three dislocated ribs that affected his breathing and his play.

"It was tough," said Jones, who also struggled with the heat in Arizona. "You get paid a lot of money and people are expecting big things. The minute you're not successful, they say you're not who they thought you were.

"You're still a rookie no matter where you were picked. ... You really have to keep your head on straight because it's easy to get discouraged when you have people telling you that you can't do something."

PATIENCE REQUIRED

Sanchez can look beyond his own locker room to learn. Across the field today will be Texans defensive end Mario Williams, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft.

Williams was third on most people's wish list, behind Reggie Bush and Houston native Vince Young, who had just led Texas to the national championship. But Casserly went against the grain and picked Williams, a quiet but ultra-talented player from North Carolina State.

Williams, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract, struggled with injuries and rarely practiced as a rookie. He had a horrible year with just 47 tackles and 41

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Prediction: New York Jets will go 9-7

by Dave Hutchinson/The Star-Ledger

Just landed in Houston a couple of hours ago. I was on a flight from Newark with the family of Jets QB Mark Sanchez. It was his brother, Brandon, father, stepmother and a group of about seven. We even rode the bus to the car rental center together.

What a wonderful unassuming family. I spoke to Brandon briefly. He couldn't have been more polite. You can see why Mark is the class act that he is. But I must get focused. We all came down here for a reason so let's talk a little football.

Video: Beat writer Dave Hutchinson and staff writer M.A. Mehta preview the season opener

I've been asked repeatedly my prediction this season and I'm going to go with 9-7, give or take a game.

Why?

The Jets play a brutal schedule that feature some explosive offenses -- starting with the Texans on Sunday -- and while I think Sanchez will be fine, I worry what will happen if the Jets fall behind, which they're bound to do. The Jets aren't built to play catch-up football. Coach Rex Ryan wants to ``ground and pound.'' They don't have a game-breaking receiver.

And when an opponent gets ahead of the Jets, they'll throw everything -- and then some -- at Sanchez. As good as he may one day be, he has a huge learning curve in front of him.

Also, I'm a little concerned about the defense, especially after watching the Eagles second-team offense march down the field against the unit for a touchdown in the first series of the final preseason game.

On paper, the defense is scary. I love the interior with LBs Bart Scott and David Harris and massive defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. The secondary, namely CB Lito Sheppard, has been shaky throughout the preseason and the Jets need him in a big way. I like safeties Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard.

But Ryan's defense is predicated on blitzing and man-to-man coverage and those are two trouble spots heading into Sunday's game.

Besides Sheppard, I'm not real confident in CB Dwight Lowery in the big spot. And I haven't seen enough of nickel back Donald Strickland.

LB Calvin Pace, perhaps their best pass rusher, has been suspended for four games for taking a performance-enhancing substance. Underrated DE Shaun Ellis (a team-high eight sacks last season) is out one game. The Jets don't have a passer rush that makes you pause.

Special teams? I have to see P Steve Weatherford kick in a game before I can rest easy with that situation.

So while there's a lot to feel good about as the Jets enter the season, there are plenty of red flags. Ryan says he'll find out quickly what type of team he has and he's right. The Texans are 12-4 at home over the past two seasons and are averaging 27 points in those games.

http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/2009/09/just_landed_in_houston_a.html

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Mark Sanchez, Jets can back up Rex Ryan's mouth against Texans

BY Rich Cimini

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Sunday, September 13th 2009, 6:08 AM

alg_ryan_sanchez.jpg Fiume/Getty, Sabo/News

New Jets coach Rex Ryan has been talking a big game since taking over the Jets, now we'll see if they can live up to his expectations.

HOUSTON - These aren't your Eric Mangini Jets anymore. They think big and talk big. They attack on defense. They will sell out to get your quarterback. They will run their "Ground and Pound" offense until you break. They will bloody your nose. They will act like champions even though they haven't won a title in 40 years, because their coach likes it that way.

Welcome to the start of the Rex Ryan era.

After eight months of buildup, highlighted by a stream of brash sound bites from Ryan, the Jets finally get a chance to validate the tough talk. They face the upstart Texans Sunday at Reliant Stadium, where they close the retractable roof when the projected game-time temperature exceeds 80 degrees.

It means the Jets won't have to worry about the sweltering Texas heat, but the place will be filled with hot air if they fail to back up their boasting.

"It's time to put up or shut up," said veteran guard Brandon Moore, who has gone from Herm Edwards to Mangini to Ryan in seven mad-cap years. "We talked and talked and talked, and worked and worked and worked, and talked some more. We've done a lot of talking. There are a lot of expectations, a lot of things going on. Now it's time to perform and perform well."

Or as all-purpose star Leon Washington said, "It's a double-edged sword. You have to back it up."

With six returning Pro Bowl players - all except Brett Favre, who will be replaced by rookie Mark Sanchez - the Jets have reasons to be optimistic. Encouraged by the outspoken Ryan, they've gone from wallflowers to wallbangers.

If their predictions are correct, they will have the best defense, the best offensive line, the best running backs, the best nose tackle, the best cornerback, the best inside-linebacker tandem … and so on. Over the last few months, Ryan has covered just about every unit on the team.

"He's doing what I did in Tampa," said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an NBC analyst. "You have to change the mindset. The Jets have been second fiddle in that division for a long time. The Patriots are the kingpins, and he's telling his players and everyone, 'Hey, this is what we're coming to do.' I like that; that brashness is great. He's putting pressure on his team to back it up."

The Jets' tortured fan base will learn a lot about it team Sunday, beginning with Sanchez, the first rookie quarterback in team history to start opening day.

Ryan has been hyping Sanchez as a future star, but is he ready? How will he handle a hostile crowd and sophisticated pass coverages that he didn't see in the preseason? Can he deal with the blitz? He's going to see a ton of blitzes and eight-man fronts.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/jets/2009/09/12/2009-09-12_jets_playbook.html

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Jets defense hopes to contain Texans' wide reciever Andre Johnson in opener

BY Matt Gagne

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Saturday, September 12th 2009, 4:00 AM

alg_andre_johnson.jpg Gross/Getty

Andre Johnson has grabbed Jets’ attention heading into opener tomorrow, when cornerback Darrelle Revis and Gang Green hope to slow down star receiver.

The rookie quarterback and the new coach will command the spotlight, but the Jets' season opener may very well be decided by what happens on the periphery when they take on the Texans in Houston tomorrow afternoon.

As much as everyone is anticipating Mark Sanchez's and Rex Ryan's respective debuts, all eyes may end up glued to the pivotal matchup between Darrelle Revis and Andre Johnson, the Jets' All-Pro cornerback and the Texans' All-Pro wide receiver.

"He's very explosive and he's their go-to guy on offense," Revis said Friday at the Jets' practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. "There's a couple things you can do to stop him and contain him, and that's what we've been focusing on all week, getting after him."

It won't be an easy task, even for a lockdown corner who Texans coach Gary Kubiak said was "as good as there is in the league."

Johnson led the NFL with 115 receptions for 1,575 yards last season, becoming the first player to top the league in both categories since 2005. Over the past three seasons, he has been the most productive receiver in the NFL, averaging 87.1 yards per game. He begins the year with 486 receptions and is 621 yards shy of 7,000 for his career, and he has caught at least one pass in 50 straight games.

It's a streak that Revis, who will often be lined up against Johnson in one-on-one coverage at the edges of the field, has no visions of stopping.

"I can't say I'm going to shut this guy out. What we're going to try and do is keep it to a minimum and don't give up big plays," Revis said. "He may catch a five-yard hitch, he may catch a drag route, well, OK, whatever. What we don't want is him making big plays on us: 50-, 60-, 80-yard touchdowns. ... We're going to do our best to stop him and shut him down."

And by "we," Revis means more than just his teammates providing help in the secondary. The best coverage may come from the defensive line every time Houston quarterback Matt Schaub drops back to pass.

"We can definitely do something to help Revis out, and we're going to try the best we can to take a lot of the pressure off of him," defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said.

Jenkins, regrettably, won't be fixated on the marquee showdown. "I wish I had the opportunity to sit back and watch it," he said. "Unfortunately I don't, I have to work at the same time."

TIME FOR TAKEOFF: The Jets are inviting fans to show up at the team's training facility in Florham Park, N.J., by 10 a.m. today and form a tunnel for the players to walk through as they board the team bus and head to the airport around 11. ... DE Mike DeVito (hamstring) is listed as questionable but told reporters he will play tomorrow, though he doesn't know if he'll start. ... TE Dustin Keller (toe) was added to the injury report Friday, but went through a full practice and is listed as probable, while Ryan said RB Shonn Greene (ribs) "is fine."

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Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez uses James Taylor tune to get pumped before taking the field

BY Rich Cimini

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Saturday, September 12th 2009, 10:13 PM

alg_mark_sanchez_claps.jpg Keivom/News

New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez during the first half of an exhibition game against the Atlanta Falcons.

HOUSTON - Before he steps onto the field today and becomes the first rookie quarterback in Jets history to start an Opening Day game, Mark Sanchez will listen to "Fire & Rain."

The $50 million rookie mellows out to James Taylor on his iPod as part of his pregame routine, according to older brother Brandon Sanchez.

Mark Sanchez, only 22, is regarded as mature beyond his years, but James Taylor? Why not the Black Eyed Peas? Jay-Z?

"He likes soft rock before games - James Taylor, Elton John, Billy Joel," his brother said Saturday in a phone interview. "I know it sounds strange. I guess he gets it from my parents."

The Jets are counting on their oldies-listening quarterback to be the new kid on the block and lead the franchise to glory days.

The Jets, with new head coach Rex Ryan, open the 2009 season today at 1 p.m. against the upstart Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.

On the biggest day of his football life, Mark Sanchez will be surrounded by family, with relatives arriving from both coasts.

His parents, Nick Sr. and Olga, are coming from Southern California, along with older brother and business manager Nick Jr. Brandon, who lives with Mark in Bedminster, N.J., arrived Saturday in Houston.

"He's fired up," Brandon Sanchez said of his kid brother, who is the first Jets rookie quarterback to start Opening Day. "We're very proud of him. Now is when the moment hits you - it's here."

The Jets, desperate for a quarterback when Brett Favre retired (temporarily in February), traded up and selected Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick in the April draft. He was named the starter last month, beating out Kellen Clemens.

His family was hoping to have dinner with him last night near the Jets' hotel, but there wasn't much free time. Players are required to attend team meetings, with little time off before the 11 p.m. curfew.

Regardless, Brandon Sanchez says his brother will be prepared.

"Whether it's a final exam in school or a football game, he's always prepared," Brandon Sanchez said. "This is the fruition of a lot of hard work."

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Oh OK, I see how it is Max. I guess you and my agent Mister Keels could resolve my contract issue via Twitter. Until it is, I'm holding out-no more News threads from SFJ ;)

As a show of good faith why don't you add some more to this thread. Then we can talk new deal...

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What to expect in Week One

by Russ H on Sep 13, 2009 10:26 AM EDT

How things can change in a year? Last November Brett Favre & Eric Mangini were the toasts of the town in Jetsville. Now, Favre is the Vikings QB, Mangini is the coach of the Browns and Cleveland is hosting Minnesota in Week One. Without question the Jets will have a very different look than they did when they were being beaten by the Chad Pennington led Miami Dolphins in Week 17 at the Meadowlands.

Today the Rex Ryan/Mark Sanchez era begins at 1PM in Houston, Texas where the Jets will take the field at Reliant Stadium against the Houston Texans.

Rookie HC Rex Ryan, noted for being the smack talking defensive co-ordinator of one of the best year in-year out overall defenses in the NFL in Baltimore brings a fired up attitude with him that makes him a polar opposite to the tight lipped all business Eric Mangini who was the Jets head coach the past three seasons. Ryan had a lot of talent in Baltimore where guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata made his job a lot easier to do but he's quickly added to the existing talent of Kris Jenkins, Shawn Ellis, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Darrell Revis and Kerry Rhodes by bringing in Lito Sheppard and three of his ex-Ravens Marques Douglas, Jim Leonhard and star LB Bart Scott.

If this group can remain relatively healthy and can pick up all of the subtle nuinances of this defense rather quickly they can quickly become not only the backbone of the team but one of the elite units in the entire NFL.

Offensively the newly minted rookie face of the franchise Mark Sanchez already has a few things in place that most rookie QB's don't have. Sanchez will have the luxury of lining up behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL as well as being able to hand off to one of the better 1-2 tandem of RB's in the NFL in the consistent Thomas Jones and the electric Leon Washington. A solid offensive line, a good 1-2 punch at RB and what could be a dominant defense and special teams combination should help Sanchez to limit the number of rookie mistakes typical for most NFL rookie QB's.

On the negative side of the ledger the possible lack of an explosive and consistent WR, the lack of depth at TE and the seemingly never ending search for solid play from the punting spot on the roster are things the Jets will have to overcome if they want to approach last years nine win total this season.

As for today's Jet game plan I'm looking for a blueprint very similar to the one I described above. For the Jets to win they'll need a solid day out of their defense. Slowing Houston's ground game and keeping the Texans in a lot of 3rd and longs would go a long way in keeping Texan WR Andre Johnson from having a big day. Johnson is probably going to get his 8 or 9 catch day no matter what the Jets do but keeping him in front of the secondary thereby limiting him to 80 or 90 yards receiving as opposed to 150 yards would make all the difference in the world.

Offensively the Jets game plan should be as vanilla as possible, it may not be exciting to watch but it should give the Jets their best possible chance for a win today. Fourty touches between Jones and Washington while limiting Sanchez to no more than 20 or so pass attempts would sound about right for today. The Jets best chance of getting a win today would probably be to get ahead early and play defense, asking Sanchez to take the Jets down the field late, while hardly impossible, is probably not the way the Jets coaching staff is drawing this one up today.

Let's call this one Jets 23-19. Gholston WILL register a sack.

In other AFCE games NE 26-Buffalo 17, Atlanta 22 Miami 16.

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I say we slap SFJ with the high tender offer and not give him a long term deal. The way the JN CBA works out, we can have him for cheap for the next three seasons. After that, who wants him anyway? So there. Err...peace. lol

SE --

I am posting this so only you can see it. But I agree, no way are we going to lock him down. He is under contract and I am tired of him asking for a new deal.

:-P

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SE --

I am posting this so only you can see it. But I agree, no way are we going to lock him down. He is under contract and I am tired of him asking for a new deal.

:-P

You write this as though there was any question in the matter. Play out the contract you signed like an honorable human being. Why is that so much to ask? So he's outplaying his current deal - big whoop. I don't think he'd be barking contract complaints if he was doing just enough to not get cut like Scott Dierking. Friggin' babies the whole lot of them.

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You write this as though there was any question in the matter. Play out the contract you signed like an honorable human being. Why is that so much to ask? So he's outplaying his current deal - big whoop. I don't think he'd be barking contract complaints if he was doing just enough to not get cut like Scott Dierking. Friggin' babies the whole lot of them.

this is my last year on my rookie contract-you guys will see my production will increase and you will kick yourselves when Keels Tweets you with his new demands

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this is my last year on my rookie contract-you guys will see my production will increase and you will kick yourselves when Keels Tweets you with his new demands

lol. You're getting nowhere with that clown for an agent. I do not deal with people who have no more than some rudimentary, first-grade grasp of the English language and who starts every sentence towards me with "Yo dawg" or the like.

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lol. You're getting nowhere with that clown for an agent. I do not deal with people who have no more than some rudimentary, first-grade grasp of the English language and who starts every sentence towards me with "Yo dawg" or the like.

hey us black dudes have to stick together Spermy...Drew Rosenhaus is too pasty for me

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