Matt Cavanaugh Tells it to Mark Sanchez Straight


Sep 25, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jets 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Mark Sanchez has received a great deal of coddling from the Jets organization in his first three years with the team. One guy that hasn’t done that, however, has been his quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh. He spoke for the first time of 2012, talking about the turnover issue that has impacted his young quarterback.

“There were turnovers that were not his fault that were credited to him,” Cavanaugh told the Daily News in his first public comments since the Jets missed the playoffs at 8-8 last season. “But there were enough that playing that position he needs to cut some of those down. Most of them came from just poor decision-making.

“So I spent a lot of time with him talking about ‘Let’s get focused on managing the game,'” Cavanaugh added. “Taking the big plays when they’re there (and) understanding that… even though it’s drawn up to be a touchdown, not every play has to be a touchdown. Not every play has to be a completion. Sometimes throwing it away is a good thing. Sometimes taking a sack is better than throwing an interception.”

Sanchez, according to Cavanaugh, didn’t have these themes sink in until 2011 fell apart over the last three weeks. The success of the team masked the problems that Mark Sanchez was having.

“The things that we talk about can’t be a ‘sometimes’ thing,” Cavanaugh added. “It’s got to be a mentality that you have all the time. It’s not something that you just turn on and off. If you’re freewheeling on your own a bunch of the time, you may be winning, but at some point it’s going to bite you in the rear end… I think he understands that now.”

Cavanaugh feels the same as his QB, Sanchez, that he doesn’t need Tebow, or any backup quarterback to push him. He just needs to push himself to be more consistent.

“If you’re going to be a really good quarterback, you’re self-motivated,” Cavanaugh said. “I think he believes that in his heart. He’s as confident as anybody. He’s as confident as I am that he can be really really good in this league, win a lot of games and help us win a Super Bowl if he stays focused, if he sticks to the game plan, if he manages the game at the right time.

“He knows he has that ability,” Cavanaugh added. “So I don’t think he needs any outside forces to motivate him.”

Can Sanchez bring up his game, with the pressure of Tim Tebow waiting in the wings?

“I think he’s going to have to,” Cavanaugh said. “I believe that most quarterbacks who play really well consistently are not concerned with who’s behind them. They’re concerned with what’s in front of them (and) what they want to accomplish. They know that this business doesn’t look kindly on people that don’t get the job done. Eventually, if you’re not performing, you’re not going to be playing.

“He knows regardless of who’s behind him, who’s on the roster (or) who people want to compare him to… he knows that he needs to play more consistently,” Cavanaugh said. “That’s the only focus I want him to have. Because it’s too distracting (and) it takes too much energy to worry about other things.”

I love this attitude from Cavanaugh. Mark Sanchez, at least it appears, to have been coddled a lot. Sanchez needs a guy in his ear who, for lack of a better term, is “keeping it real”. It’s necessary in order for Mark to reach his potential.

Let’s hope it translates into production in 2012.