FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez will be the Jets starting quarterback going into next season, according to Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum.
“Yes,” Tannebaum responded Monday when asked about Sanchez’s status as the starter moving forward. “Now, with that said, we’ll look at every position and if we could add, tweak or change it, we’ll look at the quarterback position as a whole. But as far as the starter goes, it’s Mark.”
In his third NFL season, the 25-year-old Sanchez established career highs in both passing yards (3,474) and touchdowns (26). But he completed just 56.7 percent of his throws, compiled a passer rating of 78.2, had a career-worst 26 turnovers -- including 18 interceptions -- and failed to guide the team to the playoffs for the first time in his young career.
Still, the Jets believe Sanchez has what it takes to be an elite quarterback, which is why they’re committed to him for the foreseeable future. Coach Rex Ryan gave the USC product a vote of confidence after Sunday’s 19-17 loss in Miami capped off a disappointing 8-8 season, and Tannenbaum did the same on Monday.
“I think his body of work speaks for itself,” Tannenbaum said. “I think it’s more good than bad, and it’s far from perfect. I think if Mark was sitting here, he’d be the first one to tell you that. [But] what I do feel good about is his level of commitment and how hard he plays. He plays banged up, and I’ve only seen his commitment and his professionalism grow over the three years he’s been here. And you can’t ignore the fact that he’s won four playoff road games, and he’s beat some pretty darn good quarterbacks along the way.
“Is he perfect? No. But his characteristics are a GM’s dream. The guy wants to be good. And he has the talent to make all the throws. He’d be the first one to tell you he needs to get better.”
Sanchez battled neck and shoulder injuries during the season, but it is unknown if he’ll need to undergo any further testing on them at this point.
“If we had to play [Monday], I’m ready to play,” said Sanchez, adding that he’s been “sore” but it’s just “part of playing.”
“I think you get a chance to rest and sometimes that’s the best medicine, whether it’s massages, electric stimulation, ice and all that stuff is great, but at some point you’re going to need to rest. That’ll be the best thing.”
Over the last two seasons, the Jets haven’t had a legitimate backup at the position to push Sanchez. When he’s struggled, Ryan has pulled him from practice snaps, but admitted this season that there was no way he’d replace Sanchez in favor of veteran Mark Brunell unless he was hurt. Tannenbaum said the Jets will explore bringing someone else in from outside the organization, but didn’t want to discount their internal options behind Sanchez.
“We’ll look at at that, but we also like the guys that we have here: the Kevin O’Connell’s, the Greg McElroy’s, the Mark Brunnell’s,” Tannenbaum said. “We’ll look. But I don’t want to discount the guys we have under contract.”
Sanchez would not address any questions about wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Sources told ESPN NewYork.com that Sanchez and Holmes exchanged words in a quarterback/receivers meeting last week prior to Holmes’ blow-up and benching on Sunday.
“I think it’s an in-house issue,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez was asked to evaluate his performance so far as an NFL starter.
“I think i’ve steady improved numbers-wise, but I still feel like I have a long way to go,” he said. “I have plenty of things to work on, plenty of areas to get better, and that’s what the offseason is about.”
But ultimately, Sanchez expressed disappointment about not being in the playoffs for the first time in his young career.
“That’s all I’ve known here,” Sanchez said. “It was funny, I was talking to [Center Nick] Mangold [Sunday night]. He said, ‘Man this is your first time not being in the playoffs,‘ and I said, ‘I know. I haven’t finished a season on January 1st since college.‘ I know it’s just a couple years ago, but to me, it seems like a lifetime ago. It’s a weird feeling. I have a lot of expectations next year. I think it’s just a good chance to relax and get away.”