Guard: Jets will be '2 different teams'

Updated: April 17, 2012, 12:08 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

With two quarterbacks with such different styles, the New York Jets will operate their offense like "two different teams," according to left guard Matt Slauson.

Slauson, speaking at a charity event in New York on Monday night, said players were given that impression Monday as the Jets officially began their offseason program.

"It's like we're going to be two separate teams, but as far as I know, Mark (Sanchez) is still going to be our guy," Slauson said of new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's plan to deploy both Sanchez and new acquisition Tim Tebow.

The Jets have maintained that Tebow, the No. 2 quarterback, will be used in the Wildcat formation, but a source told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio on Monday that New York will use Tebow as an H-Back, a fullback and as a running back.

Special teams coach Mike Westhoff has said he plans to use Tebow as the "personal protector" on the punt team.

Meanwhile, Sanchez, the No. 5 overall pick in 2009, will remain the starter as the Jets return to the "Ground and Pound" attack that coach Rex Ryan prefers.

"You guys will be really surprised by what Mark's going to do this year," Slauson said. "The way we're going to be running things plays right into Mark's strengths, running the ball. It'll be very similar to what we did in Rex's first two years, very much a style like that -- heavy run, heavy play action and whipping out a deep ball every now and again. That's all the stuff Mark does really well."

Ryan reiterated Monday that Sanchez is the Jets' starter.

"There's no question about it. That's how we look at it, but we know that Tim can help us, too. There's no doubt. ... Mark is our starting quarterback," Ryan said during a conference call Monday. "We've said that. We understand Tim is a backup quarterback, but we also recognize the fact that this guy's an excellent football player and we're going to use his abilities."

The Jets briefly flirted with the idea of going after Peyton Manning before it was clear the former Indianapolis Colts star wasn't interested. New York then signed Sanchez to a three-year contract extension, showing confidence and a commitment to its young quarterback.

Slauson It's like we're going to be two separate teams, but as far as I know, Mark (Sanchez) is still going to be our guy.

-- Jets G Matt Slauson
on offense with Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow

But things quickly -- and surprisingly -- changed as Manning signed with Denver, and the Broncos traded Tebow to the Jets for draft picks last month. Suddenly, the Jets had perhaps the NFL's most popular player at the same position in which they have a guy they drafted in the first round four years ago and have won four road playoff games with. Sanchez's role came into question, along with speculation over when -- not if -- Tebow will eventually overtake him for the starting job.

Sanchez has been widely criticized since the end of last season after he struggled to progress as many expected. A few unnamed Jets were also quoted in reports knocking the quarterback's abilities. Center Nick Mangold doesn't think Tebow's presence and high profile will cause Sanchez added anxiety.

"I think Mark's going to continue to be the same player and he's going to work his butt off, and he's going to be the quarterback that we need him to be," Mangold said. "If Mark was wishy-washy in his thoughts of his abilities and what his role was, I could see that creeping in, but Mark understands what he needs to do. And I think that sets the clear line. There's a lot of great backups in the league who can do the same things, but just don't have the same following that Tim does."

Ryan stunned many at the recent league meetings when he told reporters that Tebow could be used up to 20 plays per game.

"As much as any other trade or movement gets done, if it's going to help our team, I'm all for it," Mangold said. "I'm excited. Tim's won, obviously, a lot of games and brings a new dynamic for our offense."

Added Ryan: "We're extremely happy to have both of them."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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