"I think we have a great crowd," Leonhard told WFAN-AM on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News. "I think probably for one of the first times, I was kind of disappointed. Our starting quarterback gets booed in introductions. That's frustrating when ... as players, you kind of turn to each other and say, 'You know what? I guess we're in this one today by ourselves. We can't rely on the crowd to give us that energy because it's already started off on a bad note.'
"So, I will say that this past weekend was really the first time that I've been kind of frustrated going into a game, which is bad."
Back-to-back deep runs into the playoffs, coupled with a preseason Super Bowl guarantee from coach Rex Ryan, set expectations at unseen levels in the franchise's history. The Jets have responded with a 6-5 record that has blown up any chances of a division title and forced them to scramble for a wild card spot.
"We obviously understand the fans," Leonhard said. "We're all frustrated. It's not just you guys. The players are frustrated as well. The coaches are frustrated. The only way we can right some of these wrongs is by going out and winning games. We just want that crowd to have our back, which we know they do. But (if) they're not going to give us the benefit of the doubt sometimes, we got to go out there and prove it week in and week out at home as well."
An absence of unconditional love from the fans at MetLife Stadium has been an ongoing theme this season, no matter who the home team is. Last week, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs echoed Leonhard's sentiments after a Week 11 loss to the Eagles, saying it's difficult to deal with "negativity" from fans. In fairness, Giants fans primarily directed their boos at Jacobs, who has been an epic trainwreck this season.
As for Sanchez, he isn't the first notable New York sports star to be booed, and he won't be the last. Leonhard is just looking out for a teammate, but he should understand it comes with the territory.