Jeff Garcia, left, was a teammate of JaMarcus Russell as members of the Oakland Raiders. / Jeff Chiu, AP
SAN DIEGO â?? Pull the plug on the Tim Tebow circus and give Mark Sanchez every chance to be the best he can be. And do it before the New York Jets voluntary workouts begin April 15.
That is the advice of Sanchez's quarterback guru, Jeff Garcia to new Jets general manager John Idzik.
Wipe the slate clean from the old Mike Tannenbaum regime for a fresh start by Sanchez, 26, by getting rid of the Tebow distraction before it further undermines Sanchez, who has made strong progress grounding himself in the West Coast offense under Garcia the last four weeks.
Garcia is confident Sanchez has what it takes to turn things around.
"If there's going to be competition at the position, it's not going to come from Tim Tebow," four-time Pro Bowler Garcia told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. "Having Tebow there (last season) just became more of a distraction, more of a circus show. Obviously, it's their decision. But from an outsider looking in, having Tebow there doesn't bring anything positive. It just brings distraction.
"For Mark, the main competition is going to be with David Garrard and Greg McElroy."
Sanchez regressed during a 13-touchdown, 18-interception performance for the 6-10 Jets, completing 54.3% of his passes before coach Rex Ryan benched him for McElroy late in the season.
Ryan said at the owners meetings last month that while Sanchez will get the first snaps during organized team activities, the competition for the starting job will be open.
Garcia played under new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles and has helped Sanchez get immersed in the West Coast terminology. Sanchez is entering a crossroads season in which he is guaranteed $8.25 million in salary.
"Mark did a great job of really getting into the playbook," Garcia said. "He has that determination, that attitude where he really wants to prove to himself more than anybody that he can be a great leader for that team and lead the Jets to great results."
Sanchez took this week off to move into a new home in Orange County, Calif., but made impressive strides during his four weeks working with Garcia, who also is overseeing the comeback effort by 2007 No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell, who weighed in at 278 pounds Thursday, down from 315 on Feb. 7.
Tebow intends to be at the team's Florham Park, N.J., facility next week. And Garcia thinks that would be a disservice to both Sanchez and Tebow.
The Jets have tried to find a trade partner for the former Denver Broncos starter but haven't found a taker.
"When you're a quarterback, you don't need artificial competition," Garcia said of Sanchez.
"And it's not fair to Tim to put him through all that. If there's a place for Tim that gives him a chance to be a contributor in an offense with another team, let him go be that guy."
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