They believed Manning was the man to take them to the championship for the next 15 years. Manning struggled in his first few years, but in the 2008 playoffs, everything came together for him.
He threw the ball on target to every receiver he could find, and it propelled the Giants to a Super Bowl run that ended with a Super Bowl championship. He won over the fans that year, after they had nitpicked each of his passes.
After watching what the Giants' quarterback did, Mike Tannebaum decided he wanted his own Manning, and made a draft-day trade of his own with the Browns that helped the Jets get Mark Sanchez in the draft.
Rex Ryan decided to name Sanchez as the Jets' starting quarterback after the second exhibition football game. He realized the kid was his best bet to win games after uninspiring options that featured Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge.
In the first three weeks of the season, Sanchez made Ryan look like a genius by playing well, to the point he was named "The Sanchise" in the Daily News back page.
Reality set in for Sanchez when he threw several picks against the Saints at New Orleans in Week Four, and since then, he hasn't stopped.
It got to the point where Ryan entered in the meetings with the offense in an attempt to snap Sanchez out of a funk. The rookie head coach told Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to scale back with the play-calling by telling Sanchez to throw less and hand the ball to Thomas Jones.
The strategy paid off, and it resulted to the Jets winning five out of six games that helped them qualify for the playoffs.
In the regular season, teams can make the playoffs by getting decent production out of a quarterback while the running game does most of the work, but that type of approach does not work in the playoffs.
The play of the quarterback makes a difference between a Super Bowl team and an one-and-out team.
This is where Sanchez has to step up now.
The Jets feature many pieces that would make them a playoff contender, but no one takes them seriously as a Super Bowl contender because of their quarterback.
Sanchez can change all that by doing what Manning did in 2007.
It would be nice if he did. At some point, the organization needs to know if the rookie quarterback is making progress or not, and a good indication would be how he does in the playoffs.
So far, he showed that he is getting worse than he is getting better. He seems not to understand whatever Schottenheimer is telling him.
Several of his teammates expressed frustration about his development.
There's no pressure on him, at least this season. No one expects him to do anything, so he might as well start winging it by finding his open guy.
He's going to have to for the Jets to win their game against the Bengals. Look for Carson Palmer to play well, since he knows what he is doing and is an experienced playmaker.
Right now, it's a toss-up to who's going to win the game on Sunday, but this observer picks the Bengals in this game, since he trusts Palmer more than Sanchez.
Most experts share the same feeling, too.
The Jets will likely rely on Jones to lead the way to victory, but that may not be enough. It certainly won't be enough if they face the Colts and the Chargers, even if they make this one work against the Bengals.
People cite Trent Dilfer's meager contributions when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, but that was because the Ravens' defense was that good, not to mention there were mediocre quarterbacks that Ravens faced during their run.
Don't expect the same results. That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
It would be nice if Sanchez could win the game on his own. It would increase the Jets chances of winning the Super Bowl if he gets on a roll.
A good game could lead to some good games this month, as Manning demonstrated.
It can't be too much to ask, right?