FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Mark Sanchez understands all the hoopla surrounding Tim Tebow. None of it worries the New York Jets quarterback.
Hours after the Jets introduced Tebow at a huge news conference at the team’s headquarters, Sanchez spoke for the first time since New York acquired the popular backup quarterback from Denver last Wednesday.
“We’re adding another player and were not replacing anybody,” Sanchez said during a conference call from California. “I mean, he’s here to help us and I’m confident in my abilities. I know the team feels the same way about me. They have belief in me. … I’m not worried about losing my spot.”
Sanchez didn’t watch Tebow’s big intro to the Big Apple. Instead, he said, he was working out and throwing.
“I heard he did a pretty good job,” Sanchez said. “How did he do?”
Well, Tebow handled himself with the poise and confidence of a guy familiar with the spotlight.
The Jets have repeatedly said Sanchez is the No. 1 quarterback, while Tebow will serve as the backup and see plenty of playing time in various roles. Sanchez, who recently signed a three-year contract extension, doesn’t think it will be a distraction to have the popular quarterback on the team. He also brushed off the speculation that fans could call for Tebow as soon as he struggles.
“That stuff happens whether you’re Tim Tebow or not,” Sanchez said. “They call for the backup any time you’re not playing to your potential, so that’s just part of the job if you’re not playing well.”
After leading the Jets to consecutive AFC title games his first two seasons, Sanchez didn’t progress as much as many expected in 2011 and finished with as many touchdown passes as turnovers: 26. His leadership skills and confidence were called into question by teammates quoted anonymously in newspaper reports.
New York flirted with the idea of going after Peyton Manning until it was clear there wasn’t mutual interest. Manning landed in Denver, and the Broncos traded Tebow to the Jets. It was a move the front office didn’t run by Sanchez — the face of the franchise.
“You know, I find it’s difficult enough to play quarterback in the league,” he said. “That’s out of my wheelhouse.”
Sanchez hosted Tebow on his recruiting trip to Southern California a few years ago, and they’ve been friends since. He thinks that, plus the fact Tebow will be able to “add a new wrinkle to our offense,” makes the move a “plus for us.”
Tebow is expected to run the Jets’ wildcat offense, as well as serve in other roles. Sanchez isn’t high on the wildcat because it means he’s usually off the field when it’s run, but he insists he’s OK with whatever the team wants.
“That’s just how I’m programmed and any quarterback is programmed like that,” Sanchez said. “The way I feel about the wildcat really is secondary. Our team goal is what’s the most important, and that’s winning.”