Missing on a first round quarterback, especially one drafted by a rookie Head Coach to be “the man” for your franchise going forward, is probably the quickest way to get fired. John Harbaugh and Mike Smith attached their coaching careers to Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan respectively, and have had varying degrees of success with Flacco leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl this past year and Ryan winning his first playoff game. It is safe to say that Chuck Pagano will be in Indianapolis as long as Andrew Luck produces at the level he’s expected to, and the same came be said about Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill. This is why Jim Harbaugh drafted Colin Kaepernick, albeit in the 2nd round, and wasn’t hesitant to hand the reins to Kap despite Alex Smith completing 70% of his passes and leading the 49ers to an 8-1 record upon injury. You want your guy leading your team.
Mark Sanchez, for all intents and purposes, is Rex Ryan’s guy. For four years, Rex has coddled Mark, given Mark a top 10 defense, and asked Mark to not lose the game for him. Rex looked like a genius when Mark, in a supporting role, played well enough in spurts during his first two regular seasons before playing relatively mistake free football in back to back playoff appearances. Mark won 4 games on the road in the playoffs (at the time, the only QB in NFL history to do that), and was labeled The Sanchize.
We all know what happened next; the Jets sent away Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery for Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, handed Mark the reins on offense, and told him to go throw the ball 50 times a game and win games on his own. The Jets missed the playoffs, and then had Moscato Mark deliver one of the worst starting QB performances ever seen, all while fighting off choruses of “TEEEEEEEEEBOOOOOOOOOOOW”. Entering his 5th season in the NFL, Mark has regressed and is now fighting a hot shot 2nd round rookie (who was drafted by new Jets General Manager John Idzik, theoretically, to be “his guy”) for his job, a competition that Mark is winning so far.
What would’ve happened had the Jets not traded up for Mark Sanchez? We at TOJ explore that in Episode One of the “What If?” series -
Time: 4:00 PM
Date: April 26th, 2009
Location: Radio City Music Hall
New York Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and new Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan are sitting around a table with Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine, Special Teams Coach Mike Westhoff, Owner Woody Johnson, and Terry Bradway. Rex has his feet up on the table while enjoying a goddamn snack. Pettine is on the phone with Manish Mehta discussing leaks and such, and Tannebaum is on the phone trying to work a deal can be made for the Jets to improve a team that was 8-5 at one point before Brett Favre’s arm flamed out.
Mike has just finished rejecting a trade that would’ve netted the Jets an extra 3rd round pick in exchange for Thomas Jones, and hangs up. Tannebaum’s phone rings again, and it is Cleveland Browns General Manager George Kokinis. He wants to trade out of the 5th spot in the Draft that the Browns are in and is looking for extra picks. Kokinis covets BJ Raji as the anchor to former Jets head coach Eric Mangini’s 3-4 but thinks he can get him later in the draft, so he’d like to accumulate some more selections.
Kokinis offers Tannenbaum the 5th pick overall in the draft for the Jets first round selection (17th overall) and the 52nd overall pick in the draft. Kokinis also tells Tannebaum that Mangini would like to bring in Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam and Brett Ratliff. He mentions to Tannenbaum that he heard the Jets really like Southern California QB Mark Sanchez. Kokinis tells Tannenbaum that Oakland, still searching for a replacement for Rich Gannon after JaMarcus Russell became a bust, desperately want Sanchez and will take him at #6. Tannebaum tells Kokinis that he’ll call him back in a couple of minutes and hangs up. He turns to Rex and tells him about the conversation with Kokinis. Rex laughs and says “I didn’t come here to kiss Bill Belicheck’s rings.” Pettine, still on the phone with Manish, tells him that he may trade up for something but will call him later to confirm and hangs up. Rex tells Tannenbaum that he likes Elam and Coleman for depth, and thinks that he can turn them into Ronnie Lott and Reggie White respectively. R
Rex then tells Tannenbaum that he can convince Favre to come back. Woody says that “you can never have enough Favre.” Tannenbaum reminds everyone that Favre doesn’t want to be a Jet anymore, and will most likely retire. Tannenbaum says that “Favre’s never changed his mind.” Schottenheimer lifts his Jets snapback up and tells Tannebaum that the Jets can target another QB later or just let Kellen Clemens start. Tannebaum says that Kellen was drafted to be “his guy.” Westhoff, after Rex taps him and asks his opinion, asks if any kickers are available in the top 5. When Pettine says no, Westhoff says that a personal punt protector might be the next position to target and then nods off. Tannebaum asks everyone else if they’re on board with rejecting Cleveland’s offer. Rex says that the “QbBdecision should be his and his alone” and Rex says that he’s fine with Kellen. Tannenbaum agrees and calls Kokinis and tells him “thanks, but no thanks.” Kokinis says that he’ll throw in Braylon Edwards into the trade if that will help sway Tannenbaum. Tannebaum says that Edwards doesn’t “play like a Jet” and promptly hangs up.
With the 5th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select B.J. Raji…
The Jets watch as the following picks occur
5. Browns select BJ Raji to play the nose in Mangini’s 3-4 system
6. Cincinatti takes Andre Smith as the bookend of their offensive line
7. Oakland takes Mark Sanchez to be their franchise QB
8. Jacksonville takes Eugene Monroe as their franchise LT
9. Green Bay drafts Aaron Maybin to help with a defense that was ranked 20th overall
10. San Francisco drafts Brian Orakpo to improve a pass rush that was led by Manny Lawson’s 6 sacks the year before
11. Buffalo drafts Jeremy Maclin to be Trent Edwards’s go to guy
12. Denver drafts the draft’s best CB, Malcom Jenkins, to try and improve upon a 26th ranked pass defense
13. Washington drafts Larry English, from Northern Illinois, to try and contain Eli Manning and Tony Romo
14. New Orleans drafts Brandon Pettigrew, another weapon for Drew Brees
15. Houston drafts USC Linebacker Brian Cushing to lead their defense
16. San DIego drafts Robert Ayers as their pass rushing specialist opposite “Lights Out” Shawne Merriman.
With the 17th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select University of Florida Wide Receiver Percy Harvin…
Cut to a shot of the New York Jets green room, with all parties high fiving each other after drafting arguably the draft’s most explosive playmaker and keeping their 2nd round pick. The Jets fans cheer the pick of the explosive Harvin, and Harvin says that he’s “going to work hard, play hard for Coach Rex, and take the Jets to new heights.” Josh Freeman drops to 21st overall, where Tampa Bay selects him with their first round selection. The rest of the draft continues as it did 4 seasons ago, and then the Jets are now on the clock with their 2nd round selection.
With the 52nd pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Lesean McCoy, running back from Pittsburgh….
Rex Ryan is videoconferenced in at the end of the second round and says that McCoy “was the best back we scouted, and we feel that he’s going to help our team run the ball, along with Thomas Jones, who’s probably the best back you’ve never heard of. My dad taught me that if you can run the ball and play defense, you’re going to have a shot in this league. That’s what I intend to do. Percy Harvin, you know, another kid we scouted and we feel that he plays the game the right way, the Jet way. I’d hate to be the defensive coordinator that has to come up with a scheme to stop us this season. Not a GM better than Mike Tannenbaum really, because any other GM panics and hemorhages the future for a player not worth it, but Mike stood pat and really brought in some quality pieces.”
I’m sure any Jets fan would sign up for a young core of Percy Harvin, LeSean McCoy, Dustin Keller, and any other pieces that the Jets could’ve added had they not traded up for Mark Sanchez. I remember reading some reports about how, if the Jets couldn’t trade up for Sanchez, they would’ve drafted Percy Harvin and Rex would’ve called Brett to try and convince him to return. If Rex had been able to do that, there’s no reason why the Jets would’nt have been instant Super Bowl contenders. if Mark leads the Jets to a Super Bowl, it’s all a moot point, but it’s fun to consider what could’ve been.
Until next time Jets Nation. Cheers.