The Value of Mark Brunell's Mentoring: An Example

A series of scenes from Wednesday's Hard Knocks has me thinking. The Jets signed Mark Brunell in no small part to help mentor Mark Sanchez. This move raised many eyebrows. Many made a compelling point that Brian Schottenheimer and Matt Cavanaugh are responsible for just that. After Wednesday's episode, I think I see what the Jets were thinking.

Sanchez is a competitor. He hates failing. It bothers him a lot. That is a good thing. Any great player has those traits. Great players also do not let failure consume them. Sanchez seems to still be learning how to do that. We saw it during his rookie season. He wore his mistakes on his sleeve. Things tended to snowball on him after mistakes. The episode showed Mark very frustrated after bad decisions in practice. Schottenheimer and Cavanaugh tried to tell him to let it go, but it seemed like Sanchez still had his frustrations on his mind.

Fast forward to the game. Sanchez threw the early interception. He was frustrated on the sideline. Brunell talked to him and said it didn't matter and was only preseason. Sanchez seemed to shake it off at that point. He was great the rest of the way.

The coaches can show Mark all of the X's and O's in the world. The mental part of the game is also very important. Again it is a good thing that Sanchez hates making mistakes. It's a lot better than a guy like JaMarcus Russell who never seemed to care much about football. There is a balance, though. Sanchez has known little but success in his football life. He always had a lot more ability than his opponents on a lower level, and he played at one of the most successful college programs of the past decade. He needs to learn how to channel and learn from failure but not let it consume him. It's one thing for him to have his coaches tell it is all right to make mistakes. It is another to hear it from a guy who has made them on the field and still had a successful career. That carries a little extra weight.

Am I necessarily thrilled the Jets are one play away from having Brunell as the starting quarterback? No. Do I wish they had addressed the backup quarterback spot differently? Perhaps. I do think he can reach Mark in a way the coaches might not, though. After seeing that series of scenes, I think he will have value for this team. Part of the reason I like this show is that it serves as a reminder that we do not always see the inner workings of decisions the club makes. There are things we do not realize that go into these decisions. This was on display Wednesday.

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