- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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If Mark Sanchez is bothered by the mounting criticism, he's doing a good job of masking his feelings.
The New York Jets quarterback, coming off two poor outings in a row, insisted Tuesday that he's not fazed and he predicted better days ahead.
"I'm not here to defend why I should be the quarterback," Sanchez said in his weekly appearance on 1050 ESPN Radio. "I think when it comes to work ethic and things like that, the people in the building know how hard I work and how much I care about playing here, how much I love this team and franchise."
Sanchez received a strong vote of confidence Monday from coach Rex Ryan, who reiterated that Sanchez remains his long-term quarterback and that he has no interest in Peyton Manning -- if Manning were to become available in the offseason.
"He has seen flashes of a great quarterback in me, and he's also seen some bonehead mistakes," Sanchez said of Ryan. "When he's talking about being a great quarterback, that just means being consistent. That's what I'm striving for. All that stuff is in the near future and I'm working toward it every week.
"It's a steady improvement and it does take time, but I'm trying to expedite that process and move things along as swiftly as possible. It's a process but I'm learning a lot on the fly. In these first three years, we've had some amount of success, but there's more success on the way. I know it."
Sanchez's reputation, and the team's playoff chances, has taken a major hit. The Jets (8-7) have dropped two straight, relinquishing control of their playoff destiny. Now they're a long shot heading into the final game, needing a win over the Miami Dolphins and a lot of help from other teams.
In the last two games, Sanchez is tied for the league lead in interceptions (four) and sacks (nine), according to ESPN Stats & Information. He completed only 30 of 59 passes, and committed three fourth-quarter turnovers, in last Saturday's crushing loss to the New York Giants.
Sanchez said he was "a little inconsistent," an understatement.
If they don't make the playoffs, the season will be a bust.
"Anytime you don't accomplish your goals, it's considered a failure, at least in my book," Sanchez said. "That doesn't mean we don't have the pieces, that doesn't mean we didn't have opportunities. It just means we didn't capitalize on those opportunities."
Sanchez never has experienced this kind of adversity in his three seasons, but he tried to put a happy face on his situation.
"I'm one of the luckiest guys in the world to work where I do, and to even call it work is a joke," he said. "It's so much fun, even on the toughest days, even on Christmas Eve when things don't go your way and you lose and your whole family is in the stands. It's still the best job in the entire world."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.
8hEric D. Williams
1dSharon Katz & Hank Gargiulo