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Jets' Sanchez accepts burden, but Holmes cites O-line as issue

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez is accustomed to all the criticism by now.

The New York Jets quarterback sure has received plenty of it during his short career, and that's OK with him.

"You know, that's a part of this job and what you sign up for playing in New York," Sanchez said Thursday. "If you can handle the praise and everything going well -- playing in the AFC Championship Game, beating the Patriots in the divisional game and playing well -- you've got to be able to handle the flip side."

With his team in a three-game skid and fighting growing speculation that the season is on the brink of taking a terrible turn, Sanchez knows the doubters are in full force right now.

Can he carry the team in his third season? Can he step up his game? Can he fix this offense?

"I'm not worried about proving anybody right or wrong," he said. "I'm worried about playing for these guys on the team and playing well for the players in this locker room."

While Sanchez might believe the Jets are close to solving their problems, wide receiver Santonio Holmes said the team is heading into its Monday night game against the winless Miami Dolphins (0-4) with "a feeling of desperation."

Holmes said the Jets (2-3) believe in Sanchez as their leader and acknowledged that the quarterback is far from the only one at fault. The Jets have seldom thrown deep passes this season in offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's system, and Holmes believes the offensive line needs to play better for that to happen.

"The big guys know it: If they give Mark enough time to sit in the pocket and complete passes, I think everything changes," Holmes said, reiterating comments he made two weeks ago. "The routes that are being run are short routes: 'Hey, let's get the ball out of Mark's hands quick, let's move the ball down the field, let's go from there.' But if you can't protect the quarterback for four or five seconds, then there's no point of dropping back seven yards to throw a football when he doesn't have enough time."

The Jets have just 15 pass plays of 20 or more yards, tying them for 18th in the NFL. They also have only one of 40 or more yards, tied for last, and that was a 74-yard catch by LaDainian Tomlinson -- who turned a short pass into a huge gain.

Sanchez is saying all the right things, though, and insists the offense will be fine, and so will the Jets.

"We rattle off a couple of wins in a row, all that criticism and doubt, that stuff kind of fades away, and guys are confident again and ready to play," Sanchez said. "I'm not too worried about it."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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