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Namath still supports Sanchez; doesn't think Jets needed Smith

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez has a friend in Joe Namath. (USATSI)
Joe Namath has some thoughts on the Jets quarterback situation. If this sounds familiar it should -- despite having last played for the team in 1976, Namath has been outspoken on countless Jets-related issues over the years, most notably having to do with the position he played: quarterback.

The Hall of Famer, who supported Mark Sanchez last offseason after the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, is again in Sanchez's corner. This time, following the organization's decision to take Geno Smith with the 39th overall pick in the April draft.

While Namath conceded that Smith was a "sensational athlete," he also thinks the Jets shouldn't have drafted him.

“No, I don't think they needed a quarterback,” Namath said Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News. “They needed the other positions filled. Possibly offensive line. They got some defensive line. The safeties are still questionable. The outside linebackers are still questionable.”

Also on the "We could definitely use that" list: Downfield playmakers. Santonio Holmes is coming off a Lisfranc injury that kept him out most of last season, and Stephen Hill, a second-year, former second-rounder, admitted earlier this offseason that the pressure of playing in New York got to him as a rookie. But the Jets chose not to address that need in the draft, either.

Meanwhile, just like a year ago, Namath remains convinced that Sanchez should be the starter.

“I am pulling for him,” he said. “I know that he can do better than he's done. And we saw him lead a team to two AFC championship games, right? I also know what it's like not to necessarily have the weapons you'd like to have, not to necessarily have the time you'd like to accomplish.”

Yes, Sanchez was the quarterback when the Jets made back-to-back AFC championship game appearances during his first two years in the league. But in the two years since, Sanchez has committed 52 turnovers, worst in the NFL.

Still, Namath remains convinced that this will be the year Sanchez salvages his career.

“I know it's a team game and I know Sanchez is going to play better,” Namath said. “I promise you you'll see a different guy (this year). I believe you'll see a different guy.

“Mark's not a puppy anymore,” he continued. “He's gone through some things, growing process. As far as Sanchez goes, even if he's not with the Jets, he's going to play as long as he wants to. He's that good. As long as he wants to, he's going to be in the NFL.”

On this we agree with Namath: There's the very real possibility that Sanchez will be playing somewhere other than New York in 2014, maybe sooner. As for the rest of it: History suggests that this won't end well.

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