When the New York Jets traded up to the fifth spot in the 2009 NFL Draft to select quarterback Mark Sanchez, the entire Jets organization and fan-base erupted with pure elation. Sanchez quickly felt the burden of being the starting quarterback in the New York sports scene, as he was immediately dubbed the nickname, ‘Sanchize.’ But that did not seem to faze him and early on, and the Jets believed that they found their signal caller for the future; and at first, it looked as if they were right.
Although Mark Sanchez failed to put up monster numbers in his first season with the Jets; the team ultimately saw a great deal of success. New York was led by the number one rated defense and rushing game in the National Football League and as a result, they were able to sneak into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Even though Sanchez didn’t play particularly well throughout the regular season (12 touchdowns, 20 interceptions), he played extremely well when it mattered. He was able to cut down his turnovers once the playoffs began. Sanchez, who had thrown for just 53.8% during the year, was completing his passes at a much more efficient level at 60.3%. New York was also able to find continuous success in the running game, as Shonn Greene had back-to-back one hundred yard plus performances. As a result of a clicking offense and an incredible defense, the New York Jets were able to find themselves in the 2009 AFC Championship game. Despite a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Jets were able to end the season on a very high note.
The high note got even higher, as the team went out and acquired cornerback Antonio Cromartie, defense end/linebacker Jason Taylor, Super Bowl MVP receiver Santonio Holmes and an older, but still very reliable LaDainian Tomlinson. They were going all in and were anticipating the return of a hopefully much improved Mark Sanchez. In his second season in the National Football League, Sanchez continued to give the Jets exactly what they needed — efficiency.
In three out of his first four games, Sanchez threw for eight touchdowns and zero interceptions, while posting three straight games with a 100 plus passer rating. New York was in a good position moving forward, winning five straight games as they had won five straight games heading into the bye week.
It didn’t hurt that the Jets continued to have a successful defense and rushing attack. They didn’t finish a top of either of the categories; however, they still finished in the top four.They also were able to improve their record by two wins, finishing the season at 11-5. Despite an eleven win season, they were still not able to top the New England Patriots as the AFC East Champions. But even with yet another second place finish and another Wild Card spot, Mark Sanchez and the Jets were able to duplicate the success of their 2009 postseason.
After a shaky game in the opening round against the Indianapolis Colts, Mark Sanchez took off. In the divisional game in Foxbourough against the New England Patriots, Sanchez outplayed Tom Brady; throwing for three touchdowns and zero interceptions off of 64% completion percentage. And just like the previous year, the Jets were back in the AFC Championship game. But just like the year before, New York was unable to take the next step and reach the Super Bowl. Even though they were unable to reach the big game, Sanchez played very well against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the last game of the season for New York, Sanchez threw for two touchdowns with zero turnovers.
Then things started getting a little ugly. In spite of the fact that Sanchez was posting career highs in yards, completion percentage, passer rating and touchdowns, the Jets began struggling. On three separate occasions the team suffered at least a two game losing streak (losing three straight twice). Fans were growing tired of the teams lackluster play and that is when the pressure began to get to Sanchez. Even though Sanchez posted at least an eighty passer rating in ten out of sixteen games, he showed some inconsistencies at times. In the closing parts of the season, Sanchez put up absolutely atrocious numbers and as a result, the team lost their last three games.
It wasn’t until two years ago was when everything completely fell apart for the New York Jets. The defense and running game were no longer the same threats and Mark Sanchez tremendously regressed and as a result, they finished in third place in the AFC East with a 6-10 record. The New York and national media were ripping the team on a constant basis; causing even more problems within the organization. The whole season was chalked up as an embarrassment and will always be remembered for Mark Sanchez’s infamous ‘butt fumble.’ Change at the position was imminent, as things were clearly not going well for Sanchez anymore.