"There were turnovers that were not his fault that were credited to him," Cavanaugh said of the quarterback. "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."
The Jets missed the playoffs last year -- the first time in Sanchez's three years -- with an 8-8 record after losing their final three games. Sanchez tossed seven of his 18 interceptions in those losses.
"When we were sitting at 8-5, he probably still wasn't questioning some of the decisions that he made that cost us a ball or cost us points or put our defense in a tough spot," Cavanaugh said. "When the season ended 8-8 and his last three games were not very good ... I think it became much more evident to him."
Sanchez took the brunt of the fans' -- and some teammates' -- frustration after a season in which he turned the ball over 26 times.
"Sometimes when you have quote-unquote the success that he had the first two years, maybe it doesn't hit home," Cavanaugh added. "Maybe it's like, 'Hey, I thought I was playing pretty good. Yeah, I threw some picks and some of them were bad decisions, but we still got to the AFC Championship game.' (Last) year, I think he became much more aware (that) it's a fragile business."
Expectations have been high for Sanchez since he led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in both his rookie and sophomore seasons.
He faces intensified scrutiny after last season's finish and the offseason addition of quarterback Tim Tebow as his ostensible backup.