Monday, March 26, 2012
Namath: 'Mark has to be angry about this'
By Mike Mazzeo
Mark Sanchez didn’t express any anger or frustration over the Tim Tebow trade during a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon.
But the always outspoken Joe Namath thinks that the New York Jets' No. 1 quarterback has to be upset privately.
Otherwise, there’s something wrong.
“Mark’s [has to] be angry about this,” Namath said during an interview on ESPN New York 1050’s “The Michael Kay Show. “ And if he’s not, that’s strange. I [have to] believe that’s strange [if he’s not angry] and this is not gonna pan out well.
“You have two fine gentlemen, but only one position, and the key is winning. Believe me, if you’re not winning, you talk about a divided locker room, a divided section of the stadium, it’s [going to] be awful.
“They have got to win, otherwise this is [going to] be a real mess. And you’re talking about an 8-8 team that hasn’t helped itself yet improving the personnel they need to improve on.”
Namath says if something similar had happened to him, he would’ve “scoffed at it” given his confidence in himself. The former Jets quarterback figures Sanchez feels the same way.
But Namath doesn’t understand why the Jets would send a mixed message to Sanchez -- especially with his fourth season under center probably being the most important one of his career. The Jets explored adding Peyton Manning before giving Sanchez a contract extension.
Then they went out and acquired Tebow. The only other significant move they’ve made in the offseason so far is the addition of safety Laron Landry.
“He feels better about his quarterbacking than [in] the past two years, and then you turn around and bring this situation to him?” Namath said of Sanchez, who established career-highs in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage in 2011. “I think it was not a good move, and I don’t believe it’s going to work out.
“I think Sanchez is developing as a quarterback in pretty darn good fashion, and it’s the rest of the team that they need to pay attention to. There’s some flaws on offense and defense that need to be taken care of.”
Namath also wondered how Sanchez can fully develop and become better in practice if they’re concentrating so much on honing their read-option, “Wildcat” offense.
“It just does not work. Sanchez is the quarterback and I’m just as frustrated as any Jets fan or Sanchez fan with this move,” Namath said. “But I like Tebow. We all like Tebow. He’s a fine young man.
“But as a professional quarterback running the professional offense, he needs a lot of improvement to run the type of offense that can win a championship.
As for this whole gimmick offense?
“There’s not a good team with a decent quarterback in the league that runs this offense,” said Namath, pointing out that the Jets implemented the Wildcat during Sanchez’s first two years in the NFL. “I hope that we get a clear answer on why the Jets made this move. I know they say it’s a football move, but they’re on very thin ice in a lot of areas.”
Namath doubts Tebow could stay healthy while taking the physical pounding he’ll have to endure long-term against professional defensive players.
The league has implemented rules to protect quarterbacks, “so you wanna tell me your quarterback is safe enough to run that type of option offense and expect him to last the season?”
And while Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano both lost to Tebow during the regular season, opposing defenses adjusted toward the end of the year, and the Denver Broncos won just one of their last five games -- upsetting a Pittsburgh Steelers team that came out flat, Namath pointed out.
“A quarterback needs to throw the football,” he said.
Tebow completed just 46.5 percent of his passes last season. In 23 regular season games, he’s completed only 47.3 percent of his throws, and has also been criticized for his elongated throwing motion, with many pundits saying he doesn’t have what it takes to be a successful quarterback in the NFL.
Tebow had a massive press conference Monday a little after noon. He downplayed a possible quarterback controversy with Sanchez.
“I think we'll have a great relationship and, hopefully, we'll thrive together,” Tebow said.