More New York Pressure: Mark Sanchez vs Eli Manning

Zeke FuhrmanAnalyst IIISeptember 28, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 29:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants talks with Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets after their game on August 29, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

During the 2004 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected Ole Miss QB Eli Manning with the first pick in the draft. He was dealt to the New York Giants for NC State QB Phillip Rivers.

During the 2009 NFL Draft, the New York Jets traded draft picks to move up to the fifth spot to select USC QB Mark Sanchez.

This offseason, Eli Manning signed a six year, $97M contract extention with the Giants.

This offseason, Mark Sanchez signed a five year, $50M contract with the Jets.

Both quarterbacks have led their teams to 3-0 starts.

Both quarterbacks play in New York (well...kind of...).

There is nothing like playing quarterback for a New York franchise. All the hype. All the spotlights. All the pressure.

Undoubtedly, there is no greater pressure on any quarterback's shoulders this season than the weight placed upon Giants QB Eli Manning and Jets QB Mark Sanchez.

Manning, the MVP of Super Bowl XLII two season ago, signed a contract that could keep him with the Giants for the rest of his career, and made him the highest paid player in the NFL.

The Giants are coming off of a 12-4 season and an early playoff exit. They have parted ways with disgruntled WR Plaxico Burress. They lost 1000 yard rusher Derrick Ward to free agency.

Sanchez was touted as the second best quarterback in the 2009 NFL Draft, behind University of Georgia's Matthew Stafford. After the Detroit Lions selected Stafford with the first overall pick, Sanchez started playing the waiting game, knowing he would be picked soon.

He didn't have to wait long, as the Jets traded up 12 spots to nab the USC standout with the fifth overall pick.

He comes to a hungry Jets team that hasn't had a back-to-back winning season since 2001-2002.

In 2008 Jets made a deal for QB Brett Favre, hoping that Favre would help them over the hump.

Favre was coming off a 13-3 season with the Green Bay Packers, throwing for 4,155 yards and 28 touchdowns. 

After an impressive 8-2 start, the Jets' wheels fell off, and they finished the season at 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Now Sanchez has been chosen to come in and try to erase the misery of the 2008 season.

So far he has done great.

After beating the Houston Texans, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans, the Jets find themselves at 3-0 for the first time since 2004.

Now Manning, who is coming his first Pro Bowl, and Sanchez, who is filling in the giant shoes of Brett Favre, have the entire New York media and fan base breathing down their necks.

While Sanchez has been great so far (606 yds, 4 TDs, 2 INT), and has been heralded as the next Joe Namath by many a Jets fan, it is obvious that Eli has much more riding on his shoulders.

Anybody who signs a huge contract will always be scrutinized. Especially when playing in the New York market.

And have won a Super Bowl.

And when your last name is Manning.

All in all, Sanchez has many years ahead of him. He will make rookie mistakes. These mistakes will only make him better.

But this is Eli's sixth season in the NFL. The Giants aren't paying him $13M a season to make rookie mistakes.

Eli has lived up to the pressure this season. While beating the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Manning has racked up 707 passing yards with 5 touchdowns and only one interception.

While Sanchez and the Jets are in rebuilding mode with a rookie QB and a rookie head coach in Rex Ryan, the Giants are not. As the defending NFL East champions, they are expected to defend their title.

Of the two quarterbacks, Eli Manning is under the most pressure.

But he experienced and knows the secret to handling the hype.

Keep winning.