Jets players want Mark Sanchez as their starting QB

If the players get their way and are to be believed, will beat out rookie Geno Smith to win the team’s starting quarterback job in training camp, as painful as that thought probably is to Jets fans.

Sanchez had arguably the worst season of his four-year career last season. He completed just 54.3-percent of his pass attempts with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He also fumbled 14 times and lost eight (butt fumble included) – both career-highs. There was some talk the team might cut him, but his $8.5 million salary is guaranteed this season.

In his first two seasons in the NFL, Sanchez was the quarterback on two Jets teams that made back-to-back appearances in the AFC championship game. In the two seasons after, the Jets have missed the playoffs entirely while Sanchez has seemingly regressed. He leads the NFL in turnovers and is the league’s lowest-rated QB in that time.

Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold voiced his support for the embattled Sanchez this week, his close friend gives the Jets a better chance than Smith of being successful right away this fall. Asked if the rest of the locker room also hopes Sanchez will emerge as the starter, Mangold nodded.

“I believe so,” he said. “I haven’t walked around with a pen and paper and taken a poll, but from the feeling I get, the locker room wants to win. Whoever gives us the best chance to do that, we want out there — and at this point, Mark gives us that best chance.”

Sanchez has not always enjoyed the full support of the locker room. His teammates took anonymous shots at him last offseason and as recently as late May, an anonymous Jets player told the media that “80 to 90 percent” of the team felt that someone else deserves a shot as the team’s signal-caller.

Mangold isn’t the first Jets veteran to endorse Sanchez, as receiver Santonio Holmes has repeatedly said he favors the quarterback to start for the team. Mangold indicated Smith has a ways to go before the second-round pick from West Virginia is ready to be an NFL starter.

“Mark had a little bit better idea of the ideas and of seeing things, which are things Geno is going to have to work his butt off on,” Mangold said.

If Sanchez struggles, Jets fans will be emphatic in calling for Smith. The Jets open the season at home against the Tampa Bay Bucs and opened as 2.5-point underdogs on WagerWeb. Check our current lines.

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