Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: March 12, 11:59 AM ET
Jets OC: Mark Sanchez has 'leg up'

By Rich Cimini
ESPNNewYork.com

Despite a turnover-plagued season that resulted in his benching, Mark Sanchez likely will head into the New York Jets' training camp as the favorite in an anticipated quarterback competition.

"Mark will probably have just a little bit of a leg up, it would appear," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Monday in his first Q&A with New York-area reporters.

Mornhinweg, hired in January to replace Tony Sparano, said there are "a select few" on offense that have earned the right to be No. 1 on the depth chart. But he didn't include Sanchez in that group, stressing there will be an open competition.

The open competition will now also include David Garrard.

The former longtime Jacksonville Jaguars starter, who hasn't played in two years, finalized a contract Monday with the Jets, the team announced. Terms of the deal weren't immediately available.

Garrard joins Sanchez, Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow as the only experienced quarterbacks on the roster.

Mornhinweg said he had a "long discussion" with Tebow, claiming he has given "an awful lot of thought" on how he could incorporate Tebow into his offense.

But don't count on a Tebow return. The Jets are prepared to part ways with the popular backup, who was unhappy last season in his Wildcat role.

Tebow, speaking at a function Saturday night in Naples, Fla., admitted he doesn't know where he'll be playing.

"I may not know where I'm going next, but I know what's guiding me," he told Naplesnews.com.

Clearly, the Jets are counting on Mornhinweg to fix Sanchez, whose star has faded since back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and 2010.

"I'm not sure that's the [right] term, that he needs to be fixed," Mornhinweg said. "Mark's got a lot of strengths. He has played at a high level."

But not last season.

Sanchez committed 26 turnovers for the second straight year and was benched in Week 16 in favor of McElroy. An $8.25 million salary guarantee in 2013 likely saved Sanchez's roster spot, limiting the Jets' options.

"It's been just a touch scattered," said Mornhinweg, understating Sanchez's struggles. "He's proven he can play at a winning level, at a high level. ... Now his challenge is, and our challenge is, playing at that level on a much more consistent basis."

Speaking of Sanchez's attributes, Mornhinweg mentioned several come-from-behind victories in 2010. He also said Sanchez has the arm to make all the necessary throws. The question is accuracy.

Mornhinweg, previously the Philadelphia Eagles' coordinator, will install a West Coast system, which is predicated on accuracy. Sanchez is a 55-percent career passer.

Mornhinweg, echoing the theme of new general manager John Idzik, promised a quarterback competition -- even if he couldn't name the full slate of competitors.

With regard to Tebow, Mornhinweg was careful to couch his remarks by saying, "If he's on the team." But he spoke effusively of Tebow, who fumed last season when he was passed over for the starting job.

"He's heard my thoughts on the situation and he had some thoughts as well," Mornhinweg said of his recent conversation with Tebow. "If he's on this football team, which he is right now, I would do it a certain way and try to utilize all of our players that can help us win a football game.

"First of all, he would need to take reps at quarterback. Some of his other skills would certainly help a football team. What he did in Denver in a year ago, that was something else. The man can play football. How you utilize him would certainly be the key.

"He's on our football team right now, so it's my duty and responsibility to give some thought on how he could help us win the next football game."

Another pressing issue is wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who is recovering from foot surgery. The Jets want him to take a pay cut on his $11 million base salary, according to sources. If he refuses, there's a chance he could be released.

Mornhinweg said he hasn't talked to Holmes.

"I would expect him to be healthy at some point before training camp," he said.