The Jets added three more years to Mark Sanchez's original rookie contract Friday night, locking him up until the 2016 season. This is a major vote of confidence for Sanchez, who is coming off a shaky 2011 season.
Here is what this extension amounts to: Coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannebaum are going all in with their fourth-year quarterback.
If Sanchez develops into "The Sanchize" during these next five years, New York will thrive and everybody's happy and safe. But if Sanchez doesn't improve from his play last season, the power duo of Ryan and Tannenbaum won't last long in New York. This is probably the biggest decision the Jets will make as an organization for the next several years.
There is a track record of success with this trio. Just a year ago, Ryan, Tannenbaum and Sanchez were major cogs in leading the Jets to their second consecutive AFC title game. But the stench of the 2011 season still looms over the Jets. This is a team that needs to play much better in several areas, and that includes quarterback.
To Sanchez's credit, he had a lot to overcome and never complained. His offensive line struggled with pass protection, the running game was inconsistent, and his best receiver (Santonio Holmes) was rarely on the same page. Whether the Jets can fix all these problems in one offseason remains to be seen.
But the Jets clearly feel Sanchez is the right quarterback to get them to the Super Bowl. For Ryan and Tannenbaum's sake, they better be right.