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'What an opportunity' for Mark Sanchez

Posted Mar 14, 2016

Despite having the highest QB rating of any Eagles QB the last two seasons, he was deemed expendable and traded. Now he has a chance he doesn't want to waste.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At this moment in Mark Sanchez's life, he doesn't have the kind of busy personal life that prevents him from putting in overtime as he prepares to push for playing time -- and team success -- as the Broncos' newest quarterback.

"I'm not married. I don't have a girlfriend. I don't have kids. I just want to play ball and I want to win. I really want to win," he said as he met Denver-area media Monday morning. "And I'm so lucky to be in a spot like this.

"Every waking moment, that's all I'm thinking about, is what an opportunity this is, and that I want to win and I want to play here."

That effort could begin before organized offseason workouts commence on April 18. Sanchez said three players have already reached out to him, and they're heavy hitters: Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller and recent Pro Bowl wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

At some point before team-organized workouts began in the last four years, Thomas and Sanders were among the receiving targets working out in sessions organized by Peyton Manning at Duke University, although Thomas abstained last year because of an unsigned franchise tender.

Sanchez wants to continue that tradition.

"I'd like to. We spoke about it the other day," Sanchez said. "We'll figure out what city they want to meet in, and whatever they want to do. But I'm game for that. Hopefully that unfolds."

But the potential similarities stop there. When Manning arrived in Denver in 2012, the job was his. That won't be the case for Sanchez, as he learned from a conversation with Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway.

"Come on. Let's go. Let's compete, man," Sanchez said. "That was one of the first things that John Elway said to me."

Even though Sanchez's Jets split two playoff meetings with Manning in the 2009 and 2010 postseasons, he is keenly aware of where his career compares with Manning's. Comparisons would be pointless.

"That's just rarified air," Sanchez said. I'm so impressed with what he's done, and I would love to learn as much as I can from him, and the guys that have been with him, but you've got to be yourself.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can and be the best version of myself and give everything I've got to the team."

Mark Sanchez

The notion of following Manning doesn't faze him, because he's already been the successor to a Pro Football Hall of Famer, starting for the Jets immediately after Brett Favre.

"Nobody follows those guys. You don't try and emulate them. I mean, you see what they do on the field and you love to do some of those things -- especially all the successful things that he's done -- but you don't try and be Peyton Manning," Sanchez said.

But what he wants to be is the starter -- something he hasn't been on a full-time basis since 2012. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he started 10 games in relief of Nick Foles and Sam Bradford.

Sanchez's quarterback rating with the Eagles (86.6) was higher than that of Bradford (86.4) and Foles (81.4) for their work the last two seasons in Philadelphia. His completion percentage and yardage per attempt also surpassed Bradford and Foles with the Eagles the last two seasons.

But it's Sanchez who moved on, and he's thrilled about it.

"Now, I'm in a lot of ways in control of my own destiny here," he said. "To have that in my power for the first time in a few years, that's pretty special. And to see what this could be -- I mean, it's incredible.

"Everything I've got, I'm pouring into this thing. I'm looking forward and I'm definitely not looking back."

But one aspect of his past on which he can lean is his success in the playoffs with defensive-minded teams. With defenses that ranked first and third in yardage allowed per play, Sanchez led the Jets to a 4-2 postseason mark in the 2009 and 2010 playoffs, with wins on the road over teams quarterbacked by Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and, in the 2010 wild-card round, Manning.

"That experience in that atmosphere, and understanding what's expected of the quarterback down the stretch, and playing some of my best games in the toughest situations, on the road, in the playoffs -- all that experience can only help you," Sanchez said.

He'll need to lean on all of it -- from the schemes he ran with his previous teams to his ability to handle pressure -- if he is to succeed at achieving his first goal: being the Broncos' starting quarterback.