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The 5 O’Clock Club: I officially have a man-crush on Mark Sanchez

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

I just watched Mark Sanchez in his first press conference as a Redskin, and I came away incredibly impressed by the man’s demeanor and message standing behind the microphone.

If you haven’t seen the press conference, do yourself a favor and watch it.

I had never seen Sanchez speak before.

Like a lot of casual NFL fans, previous to this, my first thought when I heard his name was: “butt fumble”.

Then: “bust”.

Now, I can add a lot of impressions to that list that will move those older impressions way down in priority:

charismatic

positive

self-assured

well-spoken

confident

leader

ready to take on responsibility

And, surprisingly, I got the impression that Sanchez is a winner. Whether that translates into wins on the field for the Redskins in 2018 remains to be seen, but based on his 10 minutes behind the microphone on Wednesday, this is a guy I would passionately follow. If he were a business CEO, I would want to work for him. I have never been a soldier, but I can imagine a speech from a guy like Sanchez inspiring me to a higher level of patriotism and desire to serve my country. I have played sports, and I can absolutely see him as a guy that could inspire greater confidence in others with his demeanor and attitude.

We’ll see, over the balance of the December schedule, if his play on the field can match his performance in the press room.

I want to look at a few specific things that Sanchez said in his press conference, but I can’t stress one point enough — it wasn’t really so much what Mark Sanchez said in the press conference that impressed me, but his enthusiasm and attitude; it was the way he said it.

Certainly, Mark Sanchez used his fair share of clichés and platitudes; still, he showed the gift that so few people in the Redskins organization have, or have had, to say the right thing in the right way. It’s a gift that Kirk Cousins has. Sanchez strikes me, in terms of charisma, demeanor and leadership, as a cooler, less geeky version of Kirk Cousins... sort of what you might expect to get if you crossed Kirk Cousins with Alex Smith, then threw in a big handful of excitement.

Sanchez was signed off his sofa, so there’s got to be a big dose of humility in him. The guy had been kicked to the curb, after all. But there was no “Aw, shucks, I’m just happy to be here” about him. Mark Sanchez spoke like a confident NFL quarterback; a guy who respected his teammates, and took it for granted that they respected him in return.

When a reporter asked him about being signed off the sofa, Sanchez laughed a bit and mentioned that there had been some workouts going on. But then he quickly shifted gears, and threw the spotlight, in a very positive way, to his teammates:

You want to play well for the guys that are selling out, pushing for first downs like Jordan Reed did the other day for that two-minute drive that we had before the half. That kind of stuff is huge, to put new guys in there and a new quarterback and go out and execute a two-minute drive, that’s not easy now. It took a lot of help and a lot of extra effort from players.

It’s a great situation; I couldn’t ask for anything better, and I’m excited about it.

Sanchez moved from a question about how it feels coming in as a street free agent and being thrust into the starting QB role to praising Jordan Reed in about 4 sentences. He made it seem natural, like he was actually answering the question that had been asked, rather than the massive re-framing job he pulled off.

But look at how he ended that answer: “It’s a great situation; I couldn’t ask for anything better, and I’m excited about it.”

I think most guys who faced what Sanchez is facing right now would have talked about the difficulty of the challenge, of the hard work involved and the desire just not to let anyone down.

Sanchez never once talked about letting anyone down, or about individual or team failure. He acknowledged issues with execution in the Philly game, but then talked about moving forward toward improvement and success.

Sanchez says the situation is “great”. He can’t ask for anything better.

I like that.

In a question about support from his Redskins teammates, Sanchez showed the same skill that Cousins had of using the perfect phrasing to strike just the right note:

These guys are the best of the best, and everywhere they come from, they’re the all-stars — their names, their jerseys are hung up in their high school gyms. So when those [guys] start to recognize and say, “Hey this guy is here to work, he’s here to win, he’s on board and he’ll do whatever it takes”, that means the world to me.

A confident man, a leader, sharing the spotlight — heck, purposely shining it on others — but doing it in a way that reminds everyone of his importance, his diligence, his commitment, and his hard work. That’s from a leadership master class.

Of course, if being skilled at the microphone and flashing a winning smile were all that were required to win in the NFL, Kirk Cousins and Tony Romo would both have Super Bowl rings.

In his last comment of the day, Sanchez used a technique that I admire.

Instead of talking about this season and the challenge that faces the Redskins team directly, he shifted to a story about his past. I mean, think about it. If he says that the Redskins are in a no-win situation in the final four games, he’s a defeated loser. If he says that the team is in a position to win all four, he’s a delusional idiot.

Facing a no-win situation in terms of talking about what he brings to the Redskins in the final quarter of the 2018 regular season, he did what I think I would have done: he avoided talking about hypotheticals, and talked about something real that he knew about and had actually accomplished before, then allowed the link to his current situation speak for itself.

I can only relate it to what I know.

I just remember my rookie year, we were about right here. I didn’t know any different, I’m like; 6-6?

We won a bunch of games in college, we won a bunch of games in high school, either we suck as a team, or I’m playing crappy, like this is all bad, everything. There’s no way we are going to do anything about it.

I just remember the older guys going, ‘Hey man we’ve got this last quarter of the season, just wait.’ The Nick Mangold’s, the Alan Faneca’s, the Bart Scott’s... those guys. “Just hang in there. Trust the process. Go through your reads, make sure you throw it to the right color jersey and we’ll be just fine [Laughter].” [I benefitted from] those kinds of pep talks to a 22-year old rookie.

Wow. Appeal to authority. I hadn’t even mentioned that. You don’t have to believe (or believe in) Mark Sanchez. Believe guys with earned credibility:

Nick Mangold - 10 years in the NFL; 7 pro-bowls; 2-time all-pro

Alan Faneca - 13 years in the NFL; 9 pro-bowls; 8-time all-pro; NFL all-decade team; Super Bowl champion

Bart Scott - 11 years in the NFL; pro-bowler and all-pro

So, you don’t have to take Mark Sanchez’s word for it — you can believe these guys. They have 34 years of combined NFL experience, multiple pro-bowls and all-pro selections, and a super bowl ring!

And, just it case it might’ve slipped below the radar, Mark reminded everyone that he played with these guys. He was their leader.

For anyone who doesn’t remember, that Jets team, with the rookie, Mark Sanchez at quarterback, went from 7-7 to the playoffs, where they beat the Bengals and the Chargers to reach the AFC Championship game.

In his press conference on Wednesday, Sanchez, knowing that the press corps knows this history, makes the connection:

You don’t realize how close 6-6 is. You get to 10-6, I mean we’ve just got to get to 7-6 first, but you just get to 10-6, then we’re talking playoffs. We’re talking about something important and so that’s the global scale and now it’s ok. We understand what we are doing, let’s get right here. Let’s get right down to the most important thing and that’s playing on Sunday, at home, in front of our fans. Let’s go execute, let’s just go execute and see what happens.

Let’s go knock out this walkthrough, let’s go get through this practice, let’s get that lift. Let’s see what happens. You’ll be better for it; I know that for a fact, I can promise those guys that. I can’t promise them the playoffs, but I can promise them they’ll be happy, thinking back, win or lose, ‘Hey man, I gave it everything on Wednesday.’ So that’s kind of where I’m at.”

This is motivation and salesmanship 101. First, create the vision, which Sanchez did by referencing his playoff success with the Jets in 2009, then pointing out the parallel with the 2018 Redskins, who have a 4-game challenge ahead. If the Jets could do it, the Redskins can do it, right?

Next, make the success seem realistically achievable. Set smaller, short term, achievable goals. Define success, not in terms of the daunting, hard-to-reach long-term aspiration (winning 4 games to reach the playoffs), but in doing what it takes to master the achievable and realistic short term goal. In other words, the aspiration may be the playoffs, but that’s not achievable this week or today.

What’s achievable today is maximum effort in Wednesday’s practice.

Understand the importance of that effort right here, right now: “I can promise them they’ll be happy, thinking back, win or lose, ‘Hey man, I gave it everything on Wednesday.’

I mean, he’s not even talking about practice ‘this week’. He’s as immediate as it gets. “I gave it everything on Wednesday.

I don’t know if the Redskins will win this Sunday. Frankly, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they win another game this season.

But I was impressed by the attitude, the poise, the confidence, and the leadership I saw from Mark Sanchez on Wednesday. It was actually a pretty startling counterpoint to Jay Gruden, who appeared defeated. Of course, Mark Sanchez is a man who is getting what every aging athlete wants, but few get — the last chance that he probably thought was never coming again. Mark Sanchez gets to suit up and walk on the field as a starting NFL quarterback at least three more times, and I’m sure he feels like anything can happen.

Poll

How are you feeling about Mark Sanchez?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    At this point, I’m excited to have him as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins.
    (80 votes)
  • 51%
    Given the choices available after Alex broke his leg, I feel okay. There were no obviously better alternatives.
    (234 votes)
  • 16%
    Not good. The Redskins aren’t gonna win any games with him under center.
    (77 votes)
  • 13%
    They should have signed Colin Kaepernick.
    (63 votes)
454 votes total Vote Now