Well, when a story as controversial as the one today about New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez comes out, you know the reaction will be strong.
As I wrote earlier today, I thought it’s awfully curious that a couple of anonymous “sources” are coming out trashing the quarterback all of a sudden.
All-Pro center Nick Mangold, a future Hall of Famer who’s been with the Jets for six years, did not take kindly to these cowardly anonymous sources, and he strongly defended his quarterback.
He went on ESPN radio and called the quotes in the Daily News’ report “false” and “wrong,” and also “disconcerting” for a team that is trying to get past a fractured locker room in the wake of the 2011 season.
“It was saying he was lazy, didn’t put the work in, felt complacent, and I think it couldn’t be more further from the truth,” Mangold said. “The guy puts in more work and more time, cares more about the team than I think anybody else in that locker room. And for somebody to come out and say that, and not put their name behind it, really bothered me.”
Put your name on it! That’s what former Jets head coach Herm Edwards would say, and what Mangold is saying. They’re absolutely right.
Trashing a teammate by leaking slanderous quotes to a newspaper simply makes you a coward. If you’ve got something to say, say it to his face, or say it publicly and put your name on it.
Nick Mangold isn’t afraid to speak up and and speak from the heart about his teammates, because he’s not a coward. He’s a leader. He’s a guy I respect completely and has a strong voice in that locker room.
“Mark Sanchez is my guy,” Mangold said. “He’s the one I want to go into battle with.”
“I know he had a rough go about it,” he said. “As an offensive line, in our group we did not do the things to put him in a position to win. We did not protect him as well as we should have; we did not run the ball as well as we should have.”
“Unfortunately, he kind of takes the brunt of the criticism, even though we share in that blame. If not as much as him, we should be taking most of it.”
Accountability. What a wonderful concept. Surely the anonymous sources too afraid to put their name behind their comments have nothing to improve on, right? That’s laughable.
This is a team. All 53 players on the active roster, plus the practice squad, and the coaching staff should worry about the things they can personally can control, and not what they can’t. Period.
Nick Mangold hasn’t spoken directly to Mark Sanchez since today’s report came out, but he felt an obligation as a friend and teammate to speak out and make his thoughts heard publicly.
“I’m sure he’s already moved beyond it,” Mangold said, “but I want to make sure he knows this isn’t representative of what we have in the locker room.”
Mangold talked about Sanchez, but he also spoke about Brian Schottenheimer, the now former offensive coordinator. He didn’t blame him for all of the struggles, but acknowledged it may be time to move on.
“When you are not executing, you can call best play in the world, but it is not going to work,” he said. “And I think that a breath of fresh air might be what this team needs.”
Right tackle Wayne Hunter, who struggled in his first year as a starter, also took accountability for the team’s struggles and defended Sanchez today.
“I back Mark all the way,” he said. “People need to realize that it is not all Mark. The whole offense is at fault. I need to get better at my craft and I will. Players need to be held accountable.
“Play calling can only go so far without execution. For our own teammates to call out Mark in the media is selfish and to remain unnamed is cowardly.”
At the end of the day, these media reports serve as nothing more than distractions during a long offseason that the Jets can’t wait to see end. There’s nothing they’d like more than to get back out there and play.
“I’m excited to see what next year brings,” Mangold said.” I know [Rex] is going to be a better coach for having gone through this, and we’re all going to be better players for having gone through this.”
Ryan and his coaches will aim to get back to basics in 2012, and that includes coming together as a team and supporting one another.
This, too, shall pass. The media can keep up the sensational stories, and I’ll do my best to sort out the half-truths from the reality of the situation. I’m confident the Jets will be back and better than ever.