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Mark Sanchez's Issues With Failure

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SNY's Michael Salfino has a good take on Mark Sanchez's woes against the Bills.

I don't think the problem with Sanchez is playing mechanics. It's learning to deal with the psychological adversity of failure, from play to play and game to game. Sanchez proved that he can rebound from a bad game and recover enough to be an asset when he played better in Miami after the debacle in New Orleans. But he clearly hasn't mastered the tougher task of dealing with in-game adversity.

The first step is stopping the bleeding. He seems miles away from that, never mind that next step, the one that makes you great: being capable of reversing course and playing well in the same game after you've played poorly.

Science says stress is a killer here. We just can't perform when feeling it. And how can you not feel it when you've thrown one bad pick, and then another and another?

So Sanchez should just chill, right? This is why he's been criticized for "being too emotional," "caring too much" and "being on the verge of tears."

Most of us believe emotions interfere with decision-making. Blame this on Mr. Spock. But the opposite is true. Without visceral emotions, we're hopelessly indecisive. Someone who has suffered damage to this area of the brain will seem perfectly normal at lunch until you watch them try to decide whether to eat meat or fish. You'll be there for hours if you don't take the reins yourself.

Sanchez needs his emotions. He needs to mentally connect that sickening, death-like feeling (that fans should hope lingered for days) to covered wide receivers. He needs to feel about open ones like he does when he is eying a beautiful blonde at the bar. This has to all be done at the subconscious level as evolution devised. It cannot be done rationally. As Peyton Manning once told me, "In the NFL, there's no time to think."

I thin there are some analogies between being a quarterback in football and a closer in baseball. Even the best guys aren't robots. There are always going to be inexplicable stinkers. Tom Brady threw 4 interception at Miami against a 2-11 Dolphins team in 2004. The question is how a guy responds. One of the reasons Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer ever is the way he's responded to adversity. He blew Game 7 of the World Series in 2001. Since then, he's been even statistically more dominant. Why? He has a short memory. He was over that game by the time he got on the plane ride home. Compare it to a guy like Mitch Williams who never got over blowing the World Series and was out of baseball two years later. In the New Orleans and Buffalo games, Sanchez let early struggles get into his head, where they snowballed. He has to forget about them. I don't mean he ignores the lessons from them. I mean realize there's nothing he can do to change what happened and don't allow these mistakes to take him over.

I heard a few people worry about Sanchez handling adversity since he faced failure so little playing at a school like USC. I'm not sure I buy it. Is knowing nothing but success really a bad thing? That's a guy who expects things to go right and will not tolerate anything else. It's a good attribute. I've always had the theory that one of the reasons Jay Cutler has struggled in big spots is he played college at a losing program, Vanderbilt. When you're nurtured in mediocrity, it's easier to accept failure. Sanchez just has to find the medium between accepting failure and not being consumed by it.

Would you agree with that statement?