"Third drive we started to move the ball a little bit. Got a little scramble there, channeling my inner Tebow and got a first down so that was good."
Those were New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's remarks during a sideline interview in his team's first preseason game (and loss) against the Cincinnati Bengals. The off-the-cuff remarks were both humorous and helpful.
The humorous part is obvious. The sideline interviewer (and the audience) laughed when Sanchez referenced his teammate Tim Tebow's penchant for scrambling off the line of scrimmage.
During the game Sanchez's comment lit up Twitter. At the time, I Tweeted, "Sanchez jokes about his 'inner Tebow.' Probably a good, light-hearted move." Even Sanchez got a big smile out of it, pleased with his ability to joke about the pressure Tebow's performance puts on him.
The helpful part isn't as obvious and it really only kicks in if Sanchez is having a bad season. The pressure is on Mark to perform well this year and lead the Jets to the playoffs.
And even though head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets' organization have gone out of their way to stress that Sanchez is the starter, Tebow is going to do his best to unseat him. That's his job, and his competitive nature wouldn't have it any other way.
So if Mark starts to miss the mark as the team's play-maker, you know the Tebow mania will intensify amongst the fans and the media. The New York media, the largest media market in the world, can be ruthless if you don't win.
The only thing that might help Sanchez is if he is as likable as possible. Poking fun at himself and treating Tebow with respect will earn him some positive media coverage. And this may buy him some time if the team struggles under his leadership.
But the bottom line in the Big Apple is still to win. If the Jets don't pile up some victories in the win column being cute and funny won't be enough to save Sanchez with his "inner Tebow" from the winner Tebow.