FedEx Field was closing in around the Texans last Sunday. Trailing by 17 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, Houston had a 24-yard completion to
A stadium that shook with elation six days earlier during the Redskins' emotional season-opening win over rival Dallas now shimmied with the anticipation of a 2-0 start -- the franchise's first since 2007 -- under new coach
Body language has been a hot topic the last couple of weeks because quarterbacks at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum were on display in back-to-back nationally televised Monday night games in Week 1. First was second-year Jets pro
Both displays lit up talk-radio phone lines and created crowds around the water cooler. Beyond the discussion of whether one was a "baby" and the other a "jerk," there was the larger issue of whether a quarterback's body language can impact his ability to lead his teammates.
"There is something called isopraxism, which is an anthropological explanation of how we pull toward the same energy," says
The Jets have been dealing with this issue with Sanchez since trading up to draft him fifth overall in 2009. As a rookie he would go into funks on the field when the offense bogged down or he failed to make plays. His mood swings were so noticeable that this summer the coaching staff showed him video cut-ups of moments in games when he had poor body language. Then it asked him if he would want to follow that guy. The answer came back, no.
During training camp this year, HBO's
"Mark's performance on
Sanchez rebounded Sunday with the best game of his career, setting personal highs for completions (21) and touchdowns (three) in a 28-14 victory over rival New England. Capitalizing on a more aggressive game plan, he was bolder and more engaged than in the previous game against the Ravens. He also heeded the words of the coaching staff that to get others to follow, you must lead them both in action and behavior. One person who took note after the game was Esiason, who said by text: "It was a terrific game for him against their biggest rival. People often rush to judgment. It takes time for these kids."
"Sometimes your body language speaks louder than your words," he said. "A lot of people want to be rah-rah guys, a lot of people want to bark out different things, but really guys watch how you respond to different [adverse] situations with your actions. That's something that I pay a lot of attention to. ...
"Quarterbacks come into the league so young now that it takes time for them to find their way. That team really doesn't even know Sanchez. A guy like him, second year in the league, when everything is going great, that's what they see. The excitement. But when things aren't going great, because he's young, he's going to take it hard and wear his emotions on his sleeve. As he gets older he'll learn not to do that and be able to bounce back out of it. You can even look at
In his first season with the Bears last year, after being traded from Denver in a blockbuster deal, Cutler led the league in interceptions (26) and pouty faces. As he walked off the field after an interception against the 49ers in 2009, microphones caught him lamenting the fact that he was "snake-bitten." He appeared distant and down at times.
It would be foolish to suggest that quarterbacks should never become down or frustrated. The issue is how they handle it. The week before facing the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, Patriots defenders told
"Body language is huge," says Schaub, who after throwing an interception on his third play from scrimmage Sunday rebounded to throw for 497 yards in the win at Washington. "It's one of those things that a lot of young players don't realize. Regardless of how the play ends up, as a leader and as the quarterback of the team, you can't let your guys see you defeated or too high. You've got to be on an even keel. There are times where you've got to fire up somebody, or you've got to show that competitive edge, like Philip Rivers does. But it's the negative things you have to eliminate -- the slumping of the shoulders, the look in your eyes that,