We’ve seen it before, a potential franchise quarterback revered as his respective team’s savior before a pass is even attempted.
It’s a perplexing nature we’ve developed as football fans and enough to make prognosticators scratch their heads with curiosity.
But then you look at Mark Sanchez, the kid who says all the right things, possesses all the right looks and has the pedigree to make us believe.
You have to wonder, though, if the New York Jets’ prized investment has soaked in a little too much hype too early.
After playing just one season as the full-time starter at University of Southern California, the 22-year-old Sanchez has become the toast of the town. He is believed to be the man who will lead the Jets into their new, lavish stadium in 2010, while boasting enough juice in his right arm to deliver the franchise to its first Super Bowl title since 1969.
Like it or not, he is “The Sanchize.”
Sanchez immediately became a celebrity in the Big Apple–the world’s most magnified sports stage. It’s refreshing to know that throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field and appearing in the June issue of GQ magazine hasn’t halted his intentions of becoming a vocal leader in the Jets’ locker room.
New York’s brain trust pulled the trigger on the gutsiest move of all on draft day, trading three players along with the No. 17 pick to the Cleveland Browns and former coach Eric Mangini for the fifth pick and, ultimately, a shot to acquire Sanchez. Suddenly, hope was born again.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum selected quarterback Kellen Clemens in the second round of the 2006 draft with aspirations of turning the Oregon product into a replacement for the seemingly disintegrated Chad Pennington.
However, it turns out Clemens’ bleak resume shows five touchdowns and 11 interceptions in three seasons. In fact, Clemens was thrown into a turbulent predicament in his second campaign, being forced into playing 10 games behind a dreadful line in place of the injured Pennington.
What have we learned since then? Clemens may be talented, but he isn’t going to lead a perennial contender past the likes of Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. Such is why it’s insane to believe the Jets will monitor an open competition for the starting job this summer.
According to the Bergen Record, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has praised Sanchez, but said Clemens has a "head start" because he’s been in the system longer.
Right, and Brett Favre isn’t fickle.
The Jets, who have been shoved out of the spotlight by the New York Giants, need a marketable superstar with immeasurable clout to lure those disgruntled fans into paying for those PSLs. This is more than just business, though. This is about winning.
No doubt, all eyes will be on the starting quarterback race. However, it’s not a stretch to say first-year head coach Rex Ryan already knows who his guy will be.
It’s the kid with the million-dollar smile, the kid that knows how to win at a high level and the kid who has aced his first test–gracefully handling the immense pressure of being Mark Sanchez.
If you really think there is a competition between Sanchez and Clemens, ask yourself one question: Why has the former USC hero made this look so easy thus far?
The season doesn’t start for over three months, yet Sanchez has already hit his first completion.
So far, so good.