- Last Updated: 7:08 AM, August 8, 2010
- Posted: 5:20 AM, August 8, 2010
CORTLAND — This was the watershed moment when Mark Sanchez be came the leader of the Jets. When The Kid became The General. It happened Thursday night, The Post has learned, inside the club’s Corey Union headquarters on the SUNY-Cortland campus, when the second-year Sanchise quarterback grabbed ownership of his offense in a way that rallies teammates to a quarterback’s side.
“We were actually going through one of our different packages, and it’s not exactly what he said, but it’s the fact that he stood up and he stopped Schotty [offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] for a second while he’s going through our install, and he explained everything to us, broke it down for us,” tight end Dustin Keller.
“I think it was like the first time ever that we were kinda like, ‘Damn, he’s really taking lead, and this is it, this is our leader, and he’s doing it right now.’ He stepped up big time. And it’s not what he said but the way he said it.”
How did he say it? “He made sure that everybody had his attention and . . . he took over the room,” Keller said. “And that’s what you want from your quarterback, you want them to take over the room, and when they call something out, be able to talk to individuals, not everybody collectively, and that way you know that he knows everything that’s going on.”
Sanchez recounted that moment for The Post.
“We were putting in a package that Schotty and I were really passionate about,” Sanchez said. “Schotty had to go real fast ’cause Rex [coach Rex Ryan] wanted us out by 9:30, so we had like a half hour to install. So Schotty was going over one of our packages . . . he said it . . . there was just something I had to add to it, I don’t know, I felt like I had to add it, it was something that Schotty and I had talked about before. He didn’t know I was gonna say anything. I just said, ‘Hey Schott, can I get a second?’
“And I just stood up and told everybody exactly how I wanted it to go, and exactly how I knew it would work.”
Sanchez sat down, temporarily oblivious to the jolt of electricity he had sent through the room.
“A lot of the guys were like, ‘OK. . . . All right!’ ” Sanchez said. “Damien Woody’s like, ‘All right, swagger, OK.’ Woody’ll say that anytime you assume command, you take charge. It’s one of his things. When he said it, it was like, ‘That’s the way I want it to be.’ And Schotty does too. He wants me to own this offense. . . . It was a good moment for the offense in general. . . . I think it was the right time.”
Sanchez resembles a 10-year-old kid running down the field to celebrate with his teammates. But suddenly, he isn’t reluctant to step on toes. Drop a pass and Sanchez might say: “You have to make that play for me.”
“You need that coming from your quarterback, like, ‘Hey, I’m holding you accountable,’ ” Jerricho Cotchery says. “ ‘If you want me to put it in a perfect spot, you better catch it.’ ”
Ryan said he notices an entirely different energy level on the field the minute Sanchez, with his infectious joie de vivre, shows up. He envisions a glorious 10-year run with him.
“I hope he can be one of these guys that we were talking greatness about,” Ryan said. “And I think that’s where he’s gonna be one day. I don’t doubt that for a second.”
Said Cotchery: “Ten years down the road, he’s gonna have some Super Bowls, no doubt about it.”
Sanchez is a young man in a hurry. “If this camp feels this good, I can’t wait to see what next year’s like,” he said. “As a competitor I want it to be next camp this camp. I want to be able to make that jump and not go through all the pitfalls that every sophomore quarterback has to. I want to be ahead of the curve.”
This head coach and this quarterback have a unique bond.
“I’m so comfortable with defensive coaches because of Coach [former USC coach Pete] Carroll,” Sanchez said. “But when we get on the field, I’m comin’ after his defense. I want to beat him bad, I want to burn him. But then as soon as we’re off the field it’s the best relationship ever and he’ll ask, ‘How are the guys feeling?’ He wants my feedback ’cause he knows I’m honest with him. He knows I’m an extension of the coaching staff, and I want to help. I love that — having someone I’m close with and really respect.”
Said Ryan: “He’s just a guy that you want to be your quarterback.”