Eagles Notebook: Jets' Ryan praises Sanchez

ROB FOLDY / USA TODAY SPORTS Jets coach Rex Ryan says quarterback Mark Sanchez is 'an outstanding young man.'
ROB FOLDY / USA TODAY SPORTS Jets coach Rex Ryan says quarterback Mark Sanchez is 'an outstanding young man.'
Posted: March 27, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. - Free-agent quarterback Mark Sanchez, who seems to be headed to the Eagles if their doctors OK his surgically repaired throwing shoulder, is not at the NFL meetings. But reporters saw Sanchez' jersey yesterday - being worn by New York Jets coach Rex Ryan's wife, as depicted on the tattoo adorning Ryan's arm.

"It was my tattoo, and it's still my tattoo," Ryan said at the AFC coaches' media breakfast. Then he seemed to reconsider. "I may alter it, who knows? I'm going to put 75 on it to honor Winston Hill [the left tackle from the Jets' Super Bowl III title team]. I think that's the idea. That's what I'm going to do."

If the Eagles do sign Sanchez, as expected, there will be a great deal of sorting through the rubble, trying to make sense of the QB's 6-year NFL career, which began with such promise, and ended with the Jets turning first to Tim Tebow, then to Geno Smith in search of a QB solution.

"Whoever it is [signing Sanchez, released when the Jets signed Michael Vick] is going to get a guy that is really an outstanding young man," Ryan said. "Guy's got some physical tools and he's competitive. Up until last year, he's durable. Unfortunately had that injury [when inserted into the final minutes of a preseason game]. He'll do what it takes to get back and get healthy. I wish him the best."

Ryan reflected that he and Sanchez went to the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back years, starting when he was a rookie head coach and Sanchez was a rookie QB, drafted fifth overall in 2009.

"That's a small list. I think that's a pretty good accomplishment. He played a lot of good football. Unfortunately, people remember one play . . . but Mark played well for us. We had some success, albeit not what we wanted, ultimate success, but we did have some success together," Ryan said.

That one play, obviously, is the "butt fumble," on Thanksgiving 2012, the day Sanchez became a national punchline, after running into the rear end of guard Brandon Moore, fumbling the ball, and having it returned for a touchdown.

The Jets' system might not have been a great place to develop a young QB, though, and the team kept shedding weapons during Sanchez' time as a starter. It's not outlandish to think that Chip Kelly might feel he can redeem the 6-2, 225-pound former USC star, at least as a solid backup to Nick Foles.

New Browns head coach Mike Pettine, from Bucks County, was the Jets' defensive coordinator when Sanchez was drafted. A Cleveland reporter asked Pettine yesterday if he thought a team could win with a rookie quarterback. It seems likely the Browns will (once again) try to draft a franchise QB this year.

"I think when you build the team around him, and you minimize the importance of that position, I think you can be successful with a rookie," Pettine said.

When the Jets made the switch to Vick and observers began speculating on landing spots for Sanchez, the New York Post wrote that Pettine "was never a Sanchez fan."

"A lot's been made of that, just how I'm not a fan of his. I like Mark a lot," Pettine said yesterday. "Mark and I had a great relationship. He was part of two great runs to an AFC Championship Game. I think Mark's a quarterback that's certainly performed in this league. I think he took some criticism. I think that happens in football. It's natural. When the team's successful, the quarterback gets a lot of credit. When the team's not, he gets probably too much of the blame. I think that was a bit of the case with Mark. He's a player that we'll discuss. If he's a guy that can make the Cleveland Browns better, then we'll be interested in bringing him in."

On Twitter: @LesBowen

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