It may be too soon for Jets fans to appreciate it, but there apparently is a silver lining to the team's devastating loss on Sunday.
Mark Sánchez, the New York Jets' second-year starting quarterback, will likely benefit from the extra time off.
Sánchez said he's "optimistic" he will not need surgery this off-season on his sore right shoulder, but also didn't rule out a procedure.
"I'll still talk to the doctors about it," Sánchez said a day after the Jets' 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game. "We did our exit physicals and they are thrilled about the progress I've made in the last couple of weeks."
Sánchez was injured in the Jets' win at Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, but played well through it. He was limited for some practice sessions after the injury, but the shoulder improved as the season went on.
"I think it's just sore and recovering," Sánchez said, laughing. "It feels good. I think it's healed now."
Sánchez's shoulder wasn't a factor at all during the Jets' playoff run as he helped New York to road victories at Indianapolis and New England.
"If there was something serious, I think it would have declined," Sánchez said. "Things could have gotten worse. I wouldn't have been able to practice. If anything, it just got better. That's a good sign."
Sánchez said he will talk to doctors and get a "couple of opinions" within the next week or so. Coach Rex Ryan added that it won't be just one, but "five or six opinions" before Sánchez decides.
"I'm optimistic about everything and hopefully nothing needs to be done," Sánchez said. "A little rest, and I'll be ready to go again."
It could be the second straight offseason in which Sánchez has a surgical procedure. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last year after injuring it during the season.
"Last year, it was definitely something that needed to be looked at, kind of hands on," said Sánchez, who visited Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., before having the surgery. "This is something that you can look at just through an MRI, X-rays. We'll see what happens."
Sánchez has led the Jets to the AFC championship game in each of his first two NFL seasons, and has already tied the league record with four career playoff victories on the road. His numbers weren't gaudy during the regular season, but he was solid in three postseason games this year, throwing for 616 yards and five touchdowns and only one interception with a 95.5 quarterback rating.
"I don't think I've been more focused, maybe in my life," Sánchez said. "I don't think I've been more prepared. ... The game started to slow down."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.