On Monday night, all eyes will be on the Sanchise

October, 10, 2009
10/10/09
3:00
PM ET

 
 Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
 Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez will be in the spotlight Monday since the NFL is featuring the Jets-Dolphins game to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Mark Sanchez has failed before.

There was that nauseating upset last year in Corvallis, Ore., where Sanchez and his Southern California Trojans blew their chance at a national championship in just their third game.

Sanchez had a decent statistical night against Oregon State. He threw three touchdown passes and only one interception. The loss stung nonetheless.

The NFL doesn't work like college. Defeats, especially ones before Columbus Day, don't hurt for months or ruin a season. Nonconference games in early October are about as easily forgotten as a loss can be.

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In general.

A rookie quarterback's first defeat, however, is significant, especially when it was his fault. The following start is when you discover a little more about what he's made of.

"Everybody is looking right here," Sanchez said.

Sanchez will try to show a nationwide audience how well he rebounds. His New York Jets will play the Miami Dolphins in Land Shark Stadium on "Monday Night Football."

The NFL is featuring the game to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The new Dolphins owner has been proactive in reaching out to South Florida's Spanish-speaking population. He has added famous Latin singers Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Estefan to the board room. Estefan will help Hank Williams Jr. perform a special rendition of the MNF theme song.

But Sanchez will be the showpiece, making Monday night an even grander event for him.

"It's a big game for us," Sanchez said. "It's on Monday night. This one is for the whole country. We need to play smart and elevate our play as we need to every week. We need to bounce back from last week and play better."

Sanchez established himself as the clear-cut favorite for offensive rookie of the year by helping the Jets to a 3-0 start over quality opponents: Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans. He was composed, mostly smart with the ball and tenacious. He became known as The Sanchise.

But he was horrible in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints.

He committed four turnovers. One of his three interceptions was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. New Orleans recovered his fumble in the end zone. The Saints won by those 14 points and scored more points off Sanchez than they did against the Jets' defense.

"The most important thing was to get away from the emotional side," Sanchez said. "Don't get upset, frustrated, or mad at yourself. You have to move on ... for yourself and for the rest of the guys in the locker room."

Sanchez explained his mental recovery process began the moment he sank into his seat on the team's charter plane and watched footage of what transpired in the Superdome.

From there, he said his goal was to "wake up early the next morning and go through my same routine. Don't change anything. Don't cut any corners. Don't beat myself up too much. Just keep playing. I've shown that I can help this team win the last three weeks, and that is what I need to do next week."

Jets head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer claimed Sanchez was successful in shaking off the humbling defeat with a solid week of practice. Wednesday's trade for Cleveland Browns receiver Braylon Edwards helped. Not only does Edwards provide a colossal downfield target, but the acquisition also took some of the attention off Sanchez.

Scouting reports on Sanchez emphasized the aura about him. There's no dearth of confidence, and while his strut probably had more limp than swagger when he walked out of the Superdome, those around him aren't worried.

"He's back," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "The main thing is to just be yourself. Bad games are going to happen. Is he going to be perfect the rest of the season? He's going to try to be, but we all know that's not going to happen. He's human just like anybody else."

Said Sanchez: "I was frustrated, but it's long gone now. It's time to move on and time to have a great game."

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