The television shots of a dejected Mark Sanchez said it all.
There was the New York Jets rookie quarterback sitting on the sideline bench with his head in his hands at times Sunday, and his eyes wide and appearing glazed during others after throwing five interceptions against Buffalo.
"The demeanor stuff is important to me because that's not the way you want to act on the field," Sanchez said Wednesday. "Obviously, very disappointed visibly, but that's not what this team needs."
Sanchez realizes he needs to work on controlling his emotions, and not show that he's upset and frustrated. Otherwise, he said, his opponents will know they've gotten the better of him.
"I might as well have had a sandwich board sign," Sanchez said. "That's not good. You can't do that."
The trouble is, the images of a struggling Sanchez have been more frequent lately. He threw three interceptions in a loss at New Orleans in Week 4, moping on the sideline at times _ in particular, after Darren Sharper returned an errant toss 99 yards for a score.
He followed that up with what he called his best game as a professional, throwing for 172 yards and a TD and no interceptions at Miami. All the positive feelings and momentum were washed away with his miserable performance in the Jets' 16-13 overtime loss to Buffalo on Sunday that left him appearing on the verge of tears afterward.
"Life goes on," he said. "You have to move on for the sake of this team and for the sake of myself."
He got started on that at practice Wednesday as the team prepares to travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders (2-4).
"He's been good," center Nick Mangold said. "He's focusing in, learning what he needs to do for Oakland. I think he had a good day at practice. I haven't seen the film yet, but it felt like a good day. We'll see how that plays out for us."
The bar was set high for Sanchez as soon as the Jets traded up and drafted him fifth overall, and it got even higher when he beat Kellen Clemens for the starting job in training camp. After a solid debut in which he led the Jets to three straight victories to start the season, he was nicknamed "Sanchize."
Now, he's tied with Carolina's Jake Delhomme for the league lead in interceptions with 10, and his 56.7 quarterback rating is higher than only Oakland's JaMarcus Russell and Cleveland's Derek Anderson.
"This team doesn't need a roller coaster at quarterback," Sanchez said.
Coach Rex Ryan has said since the offseason that he doesn't need his quarterback to be the solution, but only part of the solution. He and his staff have been looking into ways to simplify what they are having Sanchez do to try to take some pressure off him.
"I think we're just trying to make sure that we're looking at it from a coaching standpoint as well," Ryan said. "Is there something we can do that possibly can make his life a little easier? He's still got to make the throws. He's still got to make the decisions."
And, he still has to act as a leader on the field _ regardless of personal performance.
"Nobody is saying to be a robot," Sanchez said. "Nobody is saying to not get excited when you throw a touchdown and then not get upset when you throw an interception, but there has to be a happy medium there."
The emotional side of Sanchez is something that Ryan thinks is actually a strength.
"That's the beauty of him," Ryan said. "I want him to be himself, and that's part of it. I know he's 'Cool Hand Luke.' He normally is. If you throw five interceptions in a game, I think all of us would be affected."
Ryan said he was never concerned that Sanchez's poor performance would carry over to the practice field this week. He also made it clear he was sticking with the rookie despite the struggles.
"We have a rookie quarterback, but I believe he can help us," Ryan said. "He can help us now and I think he'll be able to help us down the road."
Of the five interceptions, Sanchez said he only forced two of the passes, including the one Paul Posluszny picked off to set up the winning drive in overtime. He added that he made some bad reads, and said the cold and wet weather were not to blame for his play.
"This is everything I want to do," Sanchez said. "This is where good players either figure it out or they don't. This is a good test for me. As difficult as it is, I want to ace it."