The New York Daily News reported on Wednesday that it had spoken to key Jets players and they anonymously questioned the young quarterback's work ethic and said that the team might be better off with a QB like Peyton Manning, if the Colts made him available.
"We have to bring in another quarterback that will make [Sanchez] work at practice," said one player, according to the newspaper. "He's lazy and content because he knows he's not going to be benched."
Sanchez had a career-high 26 touchdown passes this season, but he also committed a career-high 26 turnovers, including nine during the Jets' season-ending three-game losing streak. He ended the season 23rd in quarterback rating and 28th in completion percentage.
According to ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating, which measures the QB's total contribution on the field and not just passing efficiency, Sanchez went from 27th in the league in his rookie season to 18th his second year. But he regressed to 30th in 2011, obviously not progressing the way the team had hoped.
The Colts have the No. 1 pick in the draft and a shot at Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The Daily News asked Jets players and members of the organization if the team should try to acquire Manning if Indianapolis does take Luck.
"Come on. That's a no-brainer," a Jets source said, according to the newspaper. "If you have a chance to get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning and you don't do it, then you're stupid. If I could get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning, then, hell yeah, I would trade Sanchez."
One "well respected player," according to the Daily News, pointed out that the Jets have already hired former Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore.
"Plus, he's a field general and will get everyone lined up," the player said. "He will get his playmakers the ball. We can win a Super Bowl with Peyton."
Manning missed the entire season after neck surgery, so the former MVP faces his own question marks.
Nonetheless, another anonymous Jets player didn't think that Sanchez, who was the QB when the Jets made two AFC title games, could take the team all the way.
"How can we when he's not improving at all?" the player said, according to the newspaper. "He thinks he is, but he's not. He has shown us what he's capable of."
Showing just how fractured the Jets locker room might be, other Jets were incensed that anonymous teammates were ripping the quarterback.
Center Nick Mangold disputed that Sanchez is lazy.
"That's just wrong," he said on an appearance on ESPN's "SportsCenter." "I've never seen anybody work as hard as Mark has. I support him fully and I think the locker room does as well."
Even if that means Manning is an option?
"Mark Sanchez is my guy," Mangold said. "He's the one I want to go to battle with. I wouldn't be too keen to see that changed."
Mangold really took issue with the anonymous attacks.
"If there's really a problem, if there is something wrong, you should man up and own up to what you're going to say," he said. "When no one has their name attached to it, I think it's kind of an easy way out to air your personal grievances that should be kept in the locker room."
He vowed to take care of that problem.
"I'm going to fix these things," Mangold said. "It's disappointing that there's somebody out there, but I don't think this should be an issue for us, moving forward."
Right tackle Wayne Hunter was even more supportive of Sanchez.
"I back Mark all the way like I always have," he said to ESPNNewYork.com. "People need to realize that it is not all Mark. The whole offense is at fault. I need to get better at my craft and I will. Players need to be held accountable. Play calling can only go so far without execution. For our own teammates to call out Mark in the media is selfish and to remain unnamed is cowardly."
Other members of the organization that the newspaper spoke to also didn't want to pin all the blame for a disappointing 8-8 season on Sanchez. They said that as the season fell apart, Sanchez "lost confidence" and made "one stupid throw and one stupid mistake after another."
"So many games, he looked defeated before he ever took the field," a team source said, according to the newspaper. "He didn't have much confidence in what he was about to go do. You could tell throughout the week in practice. He never felt comfortable with some of the things we were doing. It was too much for him."
Jets coach Rex Ryan predicted that his team would win a Super Bowl this season, Instead, the Jets have imploded in dramatic fashion.
The Jets announced late Tuesday night that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer won't return in 2012 and quickly hired former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to replace him.
On Tuesday, the Jets also parted ways with offensive line coach Bill Callahan and receivers coach Henry Ellard, both of whom had expiring contracts.
Former Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley was supposed to visit the Jets on Wednesday, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, and could be named the assistant head coach.
It remains to be seen how the new staff will deal with Sanchez, who completed just his third year in the league.
But former Jets QB Boomer Esiason also said recently that he doesn't think the Jets can win a Super Bowl with Sanchez.
"If you watched Mark Sanchez the last month of the season, he was like a chihuahua standing on Madison Avenue and 36th Street entering the Midtown Tunnel, eyes bigger than you-know-what, and just so shaky," said Esiason, according to quotes that appear on WEEI's website.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini and Jane McManus was used in this report.