During the first round of the 2009 NFL draft the New York Jets traded up to the fifth overall selection to grab quarterback Mark Sanchez out of USC. In his first year as head coach, Rex Ryan thought the front office had found its quarterback of the future, a natural-born leader and a player the organization could build around for years to come.
Nicknamed the "Sanchize" by a reenergized fan base, the rookie signal-caller endured a rollercoaster first campaign culminating in an improbable trip to the AFC title game. The following season, the Jets would once again knock on the doorstep of a Super Bowl berth only to fall a few plays short of glory. Sanchez's next two seasons were littered with disappointment and dysfunction as Gang Green missed the playoffs; casting serious doubt on the future of his starting job in New York.
This past season, Sanchez became the media's punching bag and caught the ire of a fan base that once adored and admired the young signal caller.
"My goal is to be a franchise quarterback but, as of right now, there's a lot of work to be done," admitted Smith at his introductory press conference. "I've got to handle my playbook, I've got to get into the weight room, and start preparing myself for training camp right now."
Smith's arrival in the Big Apple could spell the end of Sanchez's days starting under center. While Jets' scouts were dazzled by Smith at his Pro Day and at the NFL Combine, when day one of the NFL draft came and went without the quarterback being selected; he began to grow a bit uneasy.
"From sitting in the green room for so long, thinking that you may go in the first round, it was kind of tough to stomach but, I was able to go out and have dinner with my mom and just refresh myself, clear my mind, and wake up the next day with a whole new mindset," noted Smith.
Smith has already made a splash predicting a playoff berth for the Jets this upcoming season. The WVU star did backtrack slightly from his initial remarks but has no regrets about his postseason guarantee.
"I think it was a bit of a bold prediction, I kind of got caught up in the moment," noted the Jets' rookie signal-caller." I think going into the season every team has the same goal, and that's to win the Super Bowl. So I don't see it as a terribly bad thing per say, but as of right now it may be a bit of a bold prediction."