Yankees’ Joe Girardi Gives Mark Sanchez Sliding Tips


December 2, 2009

Yankees' Joe Girardi Gives Mark Sanchez Sliding Tips On the heels of their 27th world championship, the Yankees are spending their offseason spreading the wealth to fellow New York sports franchises. 

First, CC Sabathia put in his two cents in the hopes of courting former Cleveland-mate LeBron James to the New York Knicks.  Now, manager Joe Girardi is helping the Jets teach rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez how to slide, according to the NY Post.

After trading up to select Sanchez fifth overall in the NFL draft, the Jets certainly had visions of the USC star developing into a Pro Bowl-caliber signal-caller, as well as the face of their franchise. They admitted as much by dubbing the 23-year-old the ?Sanchise? a few victories into his first professional season. 

But Sanchez has regressed after a torrid start and now has 10 touchdowns against 17 interceptions and a lowly 62.1 quarterback rating.

The 5-6 Jets knew Sanchez, who made only 16 starts in college, would struggle at times during his first NFL campaign. First-year head coach Rex Ryan expected him to take some lumps — just not the kind he?s been taking. 

One of Sanchez?s assets as a quarterback is his mobility, which adds another dimension to his abilities on the field. Through 12 games, the Sanchise has pulled the ball down and rushed 28 times for 89 yards and three touchdowns. The Jets? primary concern is that Sanchez has subjected himself to heavy blows from linebackers and safeties on the majority of those runs, because of an apparent inability to slide properly. 

Enter Girardi. The Yankees? skipper wasn?t known for his sliding ability during a 15-year major league career, but the former catcher has certainly witnessed plenty of them. The Yankees skipper was happy to volunteer his knowledge to the Jets? quarterback, who tweaked his knee on an awkward scramble against Carolina on Sunday. 

The problem, it appears, is that Sanchez had been intent on channeling his inner Roberto Alomar and diving headfirst at the end of his runs. In baseball, such a tactic gains baserunners half a step, while putting them at a marginally higher risk of injury should a collision occur. In football, runners have absolutely nothing to gain from sliding headfirst, and plenty to lose if smashmouth-style tacklers unload on them. 

Sanchez was grateful for Girardi?s efforts.

?He showed me how to protect the ball while I?m sliding and try not to fall on one side or the other on my shoulder, but instead absorb the blow with my butt or my legs,? Sanchez told the NY Post. ?It was important for me to learn that, and I really appreciate it.?

Sanchez?s next opportunity to showcase his sliding talents will come on a national stage, as the Jets square off against the Bills on Thursday on NFL Network. 

If the Sanchise can protect himself and overcome the five-interception debacle he suffered against Buffalo on Oct. 18, the Jets will be on the way to consecutive victories for the first time since Week 3.  

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