The great thing about this USAToday.com headline -- "Mark Sanchez quietly being tutored by Jeff Garcia" -- is that it becomes anything but quiet once it's published to this magical series of tubes. So out the window go any hopes of Sanchez honing his game under Garcia's watchful eye while avoiding prying media and fans.
“I haven't lost confidence in Mark," coach Rex Ryan said last week. "But I do know this: The play at quarterback has to get better. There's no doubt. Whether it's Mark or someone else, we know we have to improve in that area without a doubt. I guess we can file that in the ‘no kidding' category, but that's it: It has to get better. I believe that Mark will get a lot better, but I also believe there's going to be stiffer competition than there was in past years.”
And that's what Sanchez intends to do. For the past few weeks, the embattled quarterback has been learning the West Coast offense from Garcia, according to USAToday.com's Jim Corbett. Garcia had great success in the system during his five seasons with the 49ers in the early 2000s.
"He's doing an excellent job -- the progress Mark has made over the past three weeks is definitely very positive,'' said Garcia, who also played for new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg during a stint with the Eagles. "It shows Mark is committed to bettering himself and getting himself more mentally prepared.
"The most important thing for Mark is to take that tough season last year as a learning experience from the standpoint of how he can get better and give his team the best chance to win," Garcia continued. "That has to be done in terms of being confident in his ability to run this system and speak the language correctly. So now when he takes the field in OTAs, he'll be in that much more comfortable of a place."
Sanchez showed a year ago that he didn't deal particularly well with expectations or pressure. The Jets traded for Tim Tebow to push Sanchez, and we're not sure how it could've turned out worse for everyone involved. General manager Mike Tannenbaum and first-year offensive coordinator Tony Sparano were fired, Tebow will likely be cut and Sanchez would join him if not for his $8.25 million guaranteed salary next season.
But the Jets have a plan. In addition to Sanchez's offseason schooling, the organization has signed veteran David Garrard to compete for the gig along with backup Greg McElroy, Matt Simms and the aforementioned Tebow (who remains on the roster for now).
But Garcia doesn't limit himself to only working with the gainfully employed; he's also taken on JaMarcus Russell as a pupil. The first overall pick in 2007 played his way out of the league in 2009 and is now in the midst of a comeback.
"The plan right now is to continue to prepare him for another month and put together a pro day where teams can come and see JaMarcus,'' Garcia said. "Granted his back is against the wall. This is a situation where if he doesn't do it now, it may never happen."
We suspect it's only a matter of time before the Jets sign both Russell and Garcia before announcing a gladiator-style, last-man-standing competition for the starting job.
"Are you not entertained," indeed.