Mark Sanchez declined to comment on last week's verbal altercation with Santonio Holmes or Holmes' blow-up Sunday in Miami, but he hinted Tuesday that maintaining a harmonious relationship with the mercurial wide receiver can be trying at times.
"Anytime I get discouraged about it, I just flip on his highlight tape, the first year he came to us, after missing the first four games, and how much production he had," the New York Jets' quarterback said on his regular spot on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 1050. "It's in there. I know that ability is in there."
Sanchez said he can co-exist with Holmes, who still has four years remaining on the $45 million contract he signed last summer.
"We're going to make things work," said Sanchez, adding, "I'm the quarterback of the New York Jets and it's my job to do my very best with all the players we have and to get the best out of everybody. It'll be a good challenge for me, but I'm excited about it."
Holmes' rapport with Sanchez -- really, his standing with the entire team -- is under the spotlight because of his late-game benching in the Jets' season-ending loss to the Miami Dolphins. He was removed from the game after arguing with teammates, some of whom accused him of quitting.
That came four days after Holmes and Sanchez exchanged pointed words in a quarterback-wide receivers meeting at the Jets' facility, as first reported Monday by ESPNNewYork.com. Privately, some teammates have questioned the compatibility of Sanchez and Holmes.
"Anytime you're not winning and you lose games, guys get frustrated, and that frustration can manifest itself in some ways that guys wish they could take back," Sanchez said. "That's what happens when you're a competitor. We'll get it right."
Holmes finished the season with 51 receptions and a career low in yards (654). He was frustrated by his role in the offfense, according to a source. In fact, he was targeted only once in the final game and didn't catch a pass for the first time in his entire career.
In terms of production, Holmes and Sanchez have terrible chemistry. In the 2011 regular season, there were 29 quarterback-receiver tandems in which the quarterback targeted that specific receiver at least 100 times, and the Sanchez-Holmes combo finished with the worst completion percentage -- 50.5, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Sanchez didn't want to discuss any behind-the-scenes issues with Holmes, saying he wanted to keep it in-house.
"We'll handle a lot of that stuff," he said. "You look at Santonio. He's a heck of a player. He's been a great player for us. We know that the ability is there. It's not like he's not a good player. That's crazy. Was it any of our best years other than Dustin (Keller) and (Jeremy) Kerley? Who else had their very best year other than (them) and some of the Pro Bowlers? Not all of us played our very best, and that's what we'll look at."
Sanchez committed a career-high 26 turnovers, including 18 interceptions, but he posted career highs for touchdowns (26) and yards (3,474). He struggled down the stretch, as the Jets dropped their final three games to miss the playoffs, but he was encouraged by his third season.
"Oh, I definitely made progress this year," Sanchez said. "I just think the story of the team, and one of the only numbers that didn't improve, was the interceptions. ... That number kind of spiked more than we needed it to."
Asked if he wants the embattled Brian Schottenheimer to return as the offensive coordinator, Sanchez said, "We want all our guys back. We want winners."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.