ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In Mark Sanchez's team played in the AFC Championship Game each of his first two seasons in the NFL.
He's 4-2 as a postseason starter and just above .500 in regular-season games he has started (37-35). So why do so many people frame the idea of Sanchez at quarterback as a bad one for the Denver Broncos?
“I think that’s part of the position, it’s part of the deal," Sanchez said. “There are a lot of people in the world who would trade places, good and bad and ugly or whatever you want to call it. And there’s nothing I’d rather be doing."
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak formally announced this week that the race to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback is officially a tie as the offseason program draws to a close. Sanchez and Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round draft pick by the Broncos in 2015, are “right there banging on each other," as Kubiak put it on Tuesday.
Sanchez has worked with the starters on offense for the last two weeks, with Siemian as the No. 2 and rookie Paxton Lynch as the No. 3 signal-caller. Of those three players, Sanchez is the only guy to have started an NFL regular-season game, the only guy to have good, bad and ugly -- such as the Thanksgiving Day 'butt fumble' -- on his NFL resume.
Sanchez also has the most callouses, social media or otherwise, that come from playing QB in this league. Playing in Philadelphia and New York helped contribute to the degree of that criticism. He credits his family, specifically his parents, with keeping him in line as he has navigated the peaks and valleys of his career.
“They’re excited about the opportunity and their message is always kind of the same in all of this -- to work hard, keep going, take advantage of the opportunity," Sanchez said. “They’re not afraid to tell me if I’m acting out, or doing something weird or when I’m not myself, so that’s good."
Asked if he still enjoys the job of quarterback despite the barbs he has taken along the way, Sanchez is quick to say: “Absolutely, it’s so good, so cool, so rewarding, so fun ... I’m going to do that until I can’t move."
“Nobody has worked harder than Mark," Kubiak said. “I think, no question, he and Trevor -- and even Paxton -- have approached this like they can be the starter and want to be the starter. That’s what you want from your players, to want to be in that position. I think Mark .. all three, really ... recognize what kind of team this is."
Sanchez certainly does. He started eight and two games, respectively, with Philadelphia in 2014 and 2015. He was not 'The Guy' with the Eagles, and the offense didn’t fit him particularly well.
So when Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told Sanchez he’d been traded to the Broncos earlier this offseason, just weeks after the Broncos had won the Super Bowl, Sanchez said, among other things, “Oh my god."
“I said ‘Denver? The Broncos? Are you kidding me?’ And he said ‘you don’t sound excited’ and I said ‘I’m really excited, I just didn’t know that was going on,'" Sanchez said. “And he said ‘well, try to sound more excited when [John] Elway calls you.’ I was like 'Oh my god, that’s insane.' It was surreal."
Sanchez still doesn’t know how things will turn out when he and the other quarterbacks return for training camp in July. But he says he feels like he can be the starter and is going to act, practice, and play that way until somebody tells him he’s not. He also says playing for the Broncos are simply “a dream come true at this point in my career."
“The bottom line is this is unlike any other opportunity I’ve been a part of in my career so far," Sanchez said. “You want to learn from every mistake you’ve had and make the most of what’s to come. It’s that simple. And of course I’d like to do that as the starter, but I’ll do whatever is needed to help this team win."