A Eulogy to Mark Sanchez and His Time with the New York Jets


October 21, 2012; Foxboro, MA USA; New York Jets quarterback

Mark Sanchez

(6) points to the defense during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the 2009 NFL draft. The Jets were coming off of a 9-7 sesaon with Brett Favre at the helm, and Eric Mangini as the coach. Following the season, Mangini was fired, and replaced by a first year head coach named Rex Ryan. Subsequently, Brett Favre retired again. The Jets were without a quarterback.

Ironically, it was Eric Mangini, from his new position with the Cleveland Browns, helping the Jets get their quarterback. He and the Jets organized a blockbuster trade that moved the Jets to the number five pick overall in the draft. With that pick, Mark Sanchez was chosen out of USC, and the era began.

By the way, there was a roar from the Radio City Music Hall crowd when Mark was chosen, probably from some of you that wanted him out the door like yesterday’s garbage. Just saying.

In 2009, Sanchez and the Jets came out like gangbusters, winning their first three games. This made Mark the first rookie quarterback to win his first three games since Greg Cook did it for the Bengals in 1969. That year, Mark set franchise rookie records in passing yards with 2,444 and completions with 196.

The Jets went 9-7, and made their first of two trips to the AFC title game. They took out Carson Palmer and the Bengals, and Phillip Rivers and the Chargers. Finally, although they were winning at the half, they fell in the title game to Peyton Manning and the Colts, 30-17. Mark Sanchez completed 60.3% of his passes and posted a passer rating of 92.7.

Were you all calling for his head then? Just asking.

In 2010, the Mark Sanchez era peaked, with the Jets posting their best record of the Rex era at 11-5. This included Mark leading come from behind wins against the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and the Houston Texans.

The playoffs that season led the Jets through Peyton Manning in the Wild Card game, and Tom Brady in the divisional playoff game, before falling to Big Ben and the Steelers in the title game by a score of 24-19. He nearly led them all the way back in the second half, but the first half was just too big of a hole to climb out of.

In the postseason, Mark threw five touchdowns versus only one interception, and his overall passer rating was a 95.5, showing a guy that can step up in the big spot.

Oh, and I am sure you all wanted this guy shipped out with the recycling when he was completing this pass:

It did fall apart, as we all know….

Aug 26, 2011; East Rutherford, NJ, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Met Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

2011 was not an all bad season for Mark Sanchez. It just ended badly.

The first thirteen games of 2011 were showing off the appropriate stages of development. The Jets had run an 8-5 record, and Mark Sanchez had been efficient to this point. He had thrown 21 touchdowns versus only 11 interceptions. He added five rushing touchdowns to this point, totalling 26 scores to that point in the season.

The beginning of the end came against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Jets were blown out by a score of 45-19, and Mark threw three interceptions that day. His need to push the envelope to make a play grew, so his decisions grew worse. By the end of the season, we had the implosion in Miami with interceptions to defensive linemen. Although he did complete over 60% of his passes in that week 17 game, it was far from the way he wanted to end the season. Still, Mark accounted for 32 touchdowns in 2011, 26 through the air and six on the ground.

Then, we had 2012 which was about as bad as it could get for Mark. His decisions got worse and worse, as did his play. By the end of the year, everyone was calling for his benching, and he didn’t even resemble the player he was starting to become the previous seasons. Then, we have the preseason injury last year, leading to Geno Smith‘s starting all 16 games his rookie year.

It all culminated yesterday in Mark’s release. We could talk all day about the lack of weapons, and whether or not this is on Mark, the team, partially on both…etc. The truth of the matter is that Mark Sanchez’s time in New York is over, so it’s time to move on.

Whether or not you all agree, Mark’s time in New York was positive overall. He brought us two seasons that we will never forget. Mark will find success in this league again, outside of New York. I, for one, thank him for the memories, and wish him the best, no matter where he winds up.

If only it could have ended with the ultimate prize.