Namath sees big things from Mark Sanchez

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
11:00
AM ET
New York Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath usually doesn't have many good things to say about his former team. So any time "Broadway Joe" offers a compliment to Gang Green, it becomes noteworthy.

Surprisingly, Namath offered praise this week for embattled Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is a major target in New York. Sanchez led the NFL in turnovers the past two years and briefly lost his starting job late last season. Now, Sanchez is in a four-way competition in New York with fellow quarterbacks Geno Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. Many Jets fans want the team to hand the ball over to Smith, this year's second-round pick, in order to start a new era.

But Namath says pump the brakes on a quarterback change, because Sanchez is due for a good season.

“I know Sanchez is going to play better,” Namath said, according to the Associated Press. “He went through some major distractions last year. Now matter how much you say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t bother me, that’s not a focus breaker.’ I promise you you’ll see a different guy.”

Namath is referring to the immense distraction of Tim Tebow, who was recently released by the Jets. Sanchez did not respond well to “Tebowmania.” In fact, Sanchez regressed significantly last year.

It’s clear that Sanchez is not the long-term solution in New York, but Namath believes he’s the answer in 2013. Sanchez will make $8.25 million guaranteed this season and most likely will be released from his expensive contract after this season.

“As far as Sanchez goes, even if he’s not with the Jets, he’s going to play as long as he wants to,” Namath said of Sanchez's future. “He’s that good. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll be in the NFL.”

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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