Jets players insist they still believe in maligned QB Sanchez

NEW YORK -- The fallout from the Jets failing to make the playoffs is in full swing, with members of coach Rex Ryan's staff leaving, players taking shots at quarterback Mark Sanchez and other players defending him.

Are Sanchez haters legit?

Is Mark Sanchez part of the problem, a whipping boy for the Jets problems -- or both? A beat writer explains the anti-Sanchez movement. **More ...**

In less than 24 hours, the coaching staff was shaken up with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer walking away, former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano replacing him and a few assistants saying they won't be back.

Now the latest controversy involves the shaky status of Sanchez, whom some teammates told the New York Daily News lacks the work ethic and leadership skills to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl. But not everyone agrees.

"Mark is heading in the right direction," left guard Matt Slauson said during a telephone interview Wednesday. "He is going to be a great quarterback, and I really believe he can lead us to a championship. His rookie year, we went to the AFC championship and again last year. The guy can do it. He can get it done. The rest of the team has to do their part, too."

The Daily News quoted one player, who wasn't identified, as saying Sanchez was "lazy and content." Another player suggested the Jets should do all they can to try to bring in Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, if he's healthy after neck surgery, because Sanchez isn't improving.

"Whoever said all that, they're out of their minds and just trippin'," defensive lineman Marcus Dixon said. "You can't blame a season on one guy. I mean, come on. It's all unfair. We have Mark Sanchez. He's our quarterback. He's our guy. And that's how just about everyone in that locker room feels."

Sanchez's older brother, Nick, who's also one of his agents, told The Associated Press in an email that the quarterback was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Center Nick Mangold defended Sanchez on Twitter and then during a radio interview, saying he "very much so, 100 percent" believes in Sanchez. Dixon pointed out that Sanchez has gathered the team's running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and other quarterbacks in Southern California at his old high school the past few offseasons to work on team chemistry and camaraderie -- much of it on his own dime.

"It is definitely really disheartening that some players are coming out and want their names protected and all that, and they're talking bad about our team and organization," Slauson said. "That isn't how it's supposed to be done.

"All I hope for them is that they stay anonymous because things won't end well for them if that ever comes out. Bad mouthing the team and the organization, that could be grounds for losing their jobs. I'm not saying anything will be done, but it would be bad to know exactly who it was because I wouldn't be able to look that guy in the eye the same way again."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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