The fifth installment of our ten part series examining the last ten New York Jets drafts, with a look at 2009 — the year of the Sanchize.
1st Round, 5th overall pick — Mark Sanchez, QB, USCAfter the Seahawks selected Aaron Curry with the 4th overall pick, the Cleveland Browns were on the clock — but not for long. A trade was announced between the Jets and the Browns, and within seconds, ESPN cut to Sanchez headquarters to show Mark Sanchez donning a Jets hat. It was a bit of a gamble considering he was an underclassman who only started for one season at USC, but he was expected to come in and sit behind Kellen Clemens until he was ready. However, Sanchez won the job in training camp.
Sanchez had a typical rookie season for quarterback drafted that early — there was some great, some good, some bad, and some ugly. He managed an offense to an 8-7 record in the games he started, recording 2,444 yards, 12 TDs, and 20 INTs in the process (Kellen Clemens started against Tampa Bay when Sanchez tweaked his knee). The 9-7 record was enough for the Jets to squeak into the postseason. Sanchez didn’t put up huge numbers in the playoffs — 539 yards, 4 TDs, and 2 INTs in three games — but he managed the game and gave the team a chance to win. Gang Green took a lead into the half against the Colts in the AFC Championship game, but they couldn’t close the deal.
Sanchez progressed well in his sophomore season. He was more experienced, he looked a lot more comfortable, and his numbers reflected this (3,291 yards, 17 TDs, and 13 INTs). With an 11-5 record, the Jets were on their way back to the playoffs to finish what they started in 2009. Sanchez led a last minute drive against the Colts in the wildcard round that set up a Nick Folk game-winning field goal. The following week, he had the game of his career against the Patriots, completing 16 of 25 passes for 194 yards and 3 TDs en rout to a 28-21 victory. He performed well against the Steelers in his second consecutive AFC Championship game, but for the second consecutive season, he and Gang Green fell just short of the Super Bowl.
Sanchez had the best statistical season of his career in 2011, with 3,474 yards, 26 TDs, and 18 INTs. The only thing that mattered from this season, however, was the way it ended. With three games remaining, the team was 8-5 and poised to make the playoffs yet again. The team collapsed, resulting in the week 17 debacle at Miami in which we saw teammates fighting in the huddle. Sanchez played three of his worst games, throwing a total of seven interceptions, and he was never the same again.In 2012, the circus arrived and Sanchez never had a chance: Tony Sparano took over as offensive coordinator and proved to be one of the worst offensive coordinators ever, Sanchez was looking over his shoulder on every play to see whether or not Tim Tebow would be subbing in, and he had virtually no weapons to throw the ball to. He struggled early in the year and the “Butt-Fumble” was the final nail in the coffin. He was benched against Arizona the following week after he threw three interceptions, completed only 12 passes against Jacksonville in week 15, and threw four interceptions against Tennessee in week 16. We saw him in his last regular season game as a Jet the following week in a 28-9 loss to Buffalo.
Geno Smith was drafted in April, Sanchez tore his shoulder in the preseason game against the Giants while playing with the 3rd-team, and he joined the Eagles the following offseason. In nine games as the starter after Nick Foles got hurt, Sanchez threw for 2,418 yards, 14 TDs, and 11 INTs. He re-signed with the Eagles for $18 million over the next two seasons. While Sam Bradford will likely be the starter considering what Chip Kelly gave up for him, look for Sanchez to get plenty of playing time. I hope Sam Bradford can stay healthy for 16 games, but there’s a better chance of Jared Lorenzen and JaMarcus Russell squaring off in the Super Bowl.
3rd Round, 65th overall pick — Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa
With Thomas Jones nearing the end of his career, the Jets needed to draft a running back capable of shouldering the load. Greene was very productive in his first two seasons, recording a total of 1,306 yards and 4 TDs in addition to his TD run against the Patriots in the 2010 Divisional Round that sealed the victory. He stepped his game up over the next two seasons when he became the feature back, totaling 2,117 yards and 14 TDs.He left the Jets in 2013 to sign with the Titans for more money and has had the two worst seasons of his career (295 yards and 4 TDs in 2013; 392 yards and 2 TDs in 2014._
6th Round, 193rd overall pick — Matt Slauson, OG, Nebraska
I can’t really speak on how effective Matt Slauson actually was in his 64 games as the Jets’ starting left guard (that might be something you ask Mike Nolan if you’re really interested), but he provided stability at the position for four seasons — something this team hasn’t had since he signed with the Bears last offseason.