Mark Sanchez knows his job is safe. His snaps in practice are another matter.
The Jets' quarterback was pulled for a few plays Monday and Tuesday, reduced to a spectator as 41-year-old Mark Brunell briefly ran the first-team offense. Sanchez wouldn't say it, but his short answers made it clear he wasn't pleased.
"That's the coach's decision," he said Tuesday.
It's a move the superstitious Rex Ryan has gone with before, resorting to a tactic that worked on the young quarterback last season. An irritated Sanchez played some of his best games after Ryan took away some snaps, and the Jets (5-5) are hoping for the same result.
"I don't think it really matters," Ryan said, "but for some reason, he got a little hot under the collar and gave that super-competitive fighting spirit that we know he has."
Sanchez sat for some snaps in practice late last season after a two-game losing streak – which the Jets are mired in now – and rebounded with crisp play and exceptional decision-making all the way to a second straight AFC title game. Sanchez later told GQ magazine that he was so angry at Ryan for saying he considered benching him that he "wanted to fight" his coach.
"If it takes me to do this and take a punch in the nose, I don't care," Ryan said Tuesday. "I'll take it, but we have to have it from him. He's the guy. He's my guy and we have to have it from him. Everybody has to play that way and I just love when (he's like that). When he's that way, we're extremely hard to beat."