FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley sat at his locker on Wednesday, wearing a forest green shirt that read "Jets West Mission Viejo." It's an old T, one he received from attending former quarterback Mark Sanchez's week-long summer camp for Jets skills players in his Southern California hometown.
"Perfect timing," Kerley said with a smile.
Certainly. The first week Geno Smith spent as a backup to Michael Vick was the same one that featured Sanchez's return under center, this time for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sanchez led the Eagles to a victory, even if he wasn't turnover-free.
Sanchez lost the starting title with the Jets, and ultimately his job, after he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in a meaningless preseason game. Now, Sanchez will start for the 6-2 Eagles while the 1-8 Jets try to stop an eight-game losing streak against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I'm happy for Mark," Kerley said. "I was always on Mark's side; that's somebody I call my friend."
The Jets fan base was divided. Some thought Sanchez was a turnover machine while others thought he wasn't developed properly. Sanchez had three offensive coordinators in his four-and-a-half seasons with the Jets: Brian Schottenheimer, Tony Sparano and Marty Mornhinweg. He also never had a consistent group of receivers -- with the exception of Kerley in the slot.
"I was always on his side," Kerley said. "That was one dude when I first got here, he made sure I felt like I was at home. He went out of his way to make me feel comfortable. So he's always going to be my friend. Happy he's over there doing his thing."
The season looks bright for the Eagles, but not so much for the Jets. The "Sanchize" hasn't been replaced by a franchise quarterback with the Jets, at least not yet. Jets coach Rex Ryan could get the ax at the end of this season for failure to develop a quarterback -- at least for the Jets.
Ryan was asked about his former quarterback's success with Philadelphia on Monday.
"Mark was great," Ryan said. "There is no question about it and I wish him the best. Every decision we made is what we think is in the best interest of our team. But I am happy for him and I hope it works out well for him."
Despite his up-and-down track record – in his first two seasons, Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC title game – fans were ready for Sanchez to go last winter. Still, he was a popular person in the Jets' locker room, and there were a few who thought the Jets front office didn't do Sanchez any favors by bringing in Tim Tebow.
Many of Sanchez's teammates in New York are gone, but a few are still with the Jets.
"I'm happy for him," kicker Nick Folk said. "From what I saw, he's throwing the ball pretty well. Just want to wish him good luck."
Jets center Nick Mangold was one of Sanchez's closer friends on the team.
"I heard that he did well, and I'm excited for him. ... I texted him and said, 'Good luck.'"