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Jets coach using code system to help mistake-prone Sanchez

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez had big plans for an early Thanksgiving buffet, inviting everyone in the New York Jets organization to come to his place.

After a four-interception, five-turnover performance at New England, the rookie quarterback thought he might be a bit lonely at the dinner table Monday night.

"I was a little surprised by the turnout after the game," he said Wednesday with a huge grin. "I was really happy about it. It was great. It meant a lot to me."

See, Mark. You're still The Sanchize, even if things aren't so great lately.

"It's one of those things where you have to keep fighting, keep playing and keep your confidence," he said. "The team has definitely kept their confidence in me, and that's encouraging."

So is the fact that coach Rex Ryan has decided to take a greater role on the offensive side of the ball after focusing almost solely on defense. Ryan has installed a code system in an attempt to help cut down Sanchez's mistakes and provide him with a clearer idea of the tasks at hand.

"Basically it's helping him manage when he gets out on the field to understand maybe the parameters, maybe the game situations and all that kind of stuff," Ryan said.

The code words -- which Sanchez said probably wouldn't make sense to most others -- are reminders of when the offense needs to be more cautious or can take some chances down the field.

"We practiced it a little bit today," Sanchez said. "When we're just starting the game, maybe we're a little more conservative here, or it's, 'Hey, man, you just completed your last nine passes. Let's go. Let one rip. Give our guy a shot.' He's got a code for it, so it's good."

At this point, Sanchez will take all the help he can get. After a terrific start, he has struggled mightily as his 16 interceptions rank as the second most in the NFL. His 61.1 quarterback rating is the worst of any current starter. Sanchez has also had at least three games in which he cost the Jets opportunities at victories because of turnovers.

"A couple of times, pressing a little bit too hard," he said. "I'm trying to do a little too much."

Ryan said Monday that his getting more involved in offense was not at all a slight to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. He reiterated that point Wednesday.

"I just wanted to say that, 'Hey, obviously, this is my responsibility,"' Ryan said. "That's the way I'm going to approach it. I don't want to pass it off on anybody else. I'm going to make sure that Mark knows what we need as a football team and what we can't have in those particular times in the game."

Sanchez had four touchdowns and two interceptions in the Jets' first three games, all wins. He has thrown for more than one score in just one game since, and four games with two interceptions or more. In the Jets' last two games against Jacksonville and New England, he has six picks.

"You can't just give games away like that," Sanchez said.

He didn't think things would be easy after a 3-0 start, but he also didn't expect to struggle as he and the team have.

"A lot of guys asked after our first loss, 'Well, you didn't expect to win all of them, did you?"' he said. "I was like, 'Well, kinda. Why not?' That's maybe just being a rookie, but at the same time, that's just how I feel. We're going to win. I haven't been playing like that lately and it hasn't looked like it on the field, but we're going to win."

Ryan has maintained that Sanchez gives the team the best chance to win, and for those clamoring for him to be benched, consider this: He has the most starting experience in the NFL at the position on the Jets' roster. His 10 starts are already two more than Kellen Clemens has made in his first three-plus seasons.

"It's absolutely a steep learning curve," Sanchez said.

Oh, and if you're wondering if Sanchez whipped anything together to serve at his big buffet, he'll stick to playbooks over cookbooks.

"We had it catered," he said, laughing. "It was perfect. I have a lot of work to do other than in the kitchen."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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