2009: MARK SANCHEZ Drafted: 1st round, No. 5 overall by...

Drafted: 1st round, No. 5 overall by the New York Jets
College: USC (started 16 games in three years)
NFL: "The Sanchize" helped lead the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championships in his first two seasons. Despite career highs in yards, touchdowns and completion percentage in 2011 for Sanchez, the Jets failed to reach the postseason. In 2012, Sanchez had to deal with talks of Tim Tebow taking his job as the Jets missed the postseason for a second straight year. Sanchez tore the labrum in his right shoulder during a 2013 preseason game against the Giants and missed the entire season. He started 10 games and threw for 3,034 yards with the Eagles from 2014-15, but since then has bounced around the league as a backup for the Broncos, Cowboys and now the Bears.
Credit: Getty

ESPN radio host Stephen A. Smith told Mike Tannenbaum on-air Monday that he recently ran into Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who didn’t seem at all worried about the upcoming season.

“He seemed very, very happy,” Stephen A. said of Sanchez. “And not only that, but he looks at himself and sees himself as a starting quarterback in the NFL. He doesn’t even see any competition whatsoever.”

That was music to Tannenbaum’s ears. The Jets GM would love nothing more than for the rumblings of a purported “QB controversy” between between Sanchez and Tim Tebow to die a quick death.

During his near 10-minute guest spot with Stephen A. and co-host Ryan Ruocco, Tannenbaum praised Sanchez’s work ethic and the leadership the young quarterback has shown in big games -- but in the next breath he was talking about Tebow.

“I think that’s great,” the GM said of Sanchez’s attitude. “I think Mark’s the same guy we drafted a few years ago. He’s a self-motivated person that truly wants to win a championship. And those attributes, we saw him win the job at USC, which we all know is a difficult job to earn. From Day 1, he’s earned the right to be the starter here and he’s won meaningful games, including road playoff games.

“With that said, to add a guy of Tim’s accomplishments and what he’s done in the league, we thought for the price of a fourth and a six(th-round pick), that was really good value for us. And Tim’s a great teammate, he’s going to do a lot of things for us. And we got great value at the backup QB position. So Mark and Tim can both help us win for a long time. And when you throw in (Greg) McElroy, we have three young quarterbacks, all under contract for the next three years, and we feel really good about that.”

In his defense of Sanchez’s struggles in his third year, Tannenbaum pointed to the inevitable trials that all young NFL quarterbacks must traverse and the particularly tough market Sanchez plays in: New York.

“When we were going through the analysis of Mark, let’s face it, to play quarterback in the NFL, in New York City, bumps are going to come in different shapes, form, and we all know that,” Tannenbaum said. “This year, it just happens to be in the name of Tim Tebow. But it could be, playing with a tear in your shoulder, it could be after throwing six interceptions...So his mental make-up, we knew there was resiliency there. And again, I don’t think we just have to kick him in the tail every day, because, again, for you to play quarterback at this level, you have to be innately motivated -- and he is. The fact that we got Tim here, I think, it’s not only going to help Mark, it’s going to help our entire offense.”

According to Tannenbaum, head coach Rex Ryan at times has found himself stymied by the Wildcat package -- a package the Jets again will have at their disposal with the arrival of Tebow and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. “We lost a lot when we lost Brad Smith (now with Buffalo) and we felt this was an opportunity at a reasonable price to get part of that back,” Tannenbaum said.

Mark Brunell had been waiting in the wings during Years 2 and 3 of Sanchez’s career, but after the 2011 season the Jets have parted ways with the veteran quarterback. Tannenbaum, however, does not seem concerned the Jets have no QB experience on the sidelines for either Sanchez or Tebow.

“He’s going into his fourth year and he has three years under his belt,” the GM said of Sanchez. “And I think based on that, we transition from a guy like Mark Brunell to Tim. We still have, obviously, (QB coach) Matt Cavanaugh here and (offensive coordinator) coach (Tony) Sparano, so I think there is some experience here. But that’s something we were mindful of as we managed the transition of that quarterback position as a group from 2011 to 2012.”

Tannenbaum still won’t say whether the Jets will do a second season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

“If they ask us, then we’ll discuss like we would any decision,” he said.

Speaking of HBO....Did you know the Jets GM is a huge boxing fan?

Tannenbaum said he’ll definitely be watching the Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Miguel Cotto junior middleweight title bout on pay per view Saturday night.

So who’s he picking?

“That’s easy,” Tannenbaum said “Mayweather in six (rounds) or less.” 

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