Mark Sanchez gets sacked by Marvin Austin, likely his last play with the Jets. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Jets received some closure Tuesday as quarterback Mark Sanchez underwent season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder.
After weeks of speculation as to whether or not the procedure would take place, the team can finally move forward. No longer will Sanchez's possible return lurk whenever Geno Smith has a bad game.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Smith is their man.
It wasn't all that long ago that Sanchez was the hotshot rookie taking over the position. Selected fifth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, he quickly became the face of the franchise and was nicknamed the "Sanchize."
Like Smith, Sanchez struggled with fumbles and threw too many interceptions in his first season. But the team around him was talented enough to get into the playoffs and made a surprise appearance in the AFC Championship Game.
Year two seemed to be a season of progression for Sanchez as his overall production went up, the turnovers were cut down considerably and the Jets made a return trip to the AFC Championship Game.
From there, it was all downhill for the franchise and their quarterback.
Whether it was the changes in coaching personnel, a weakened offensive line, a lack of weapons in the passing game, or his own doing, the mistakes began to pile up again for Sanchez and patience wore thin as the Jets missed the playoffs in 2011 and 2012.
Almost symbolically, during an embarrassing 49-19 loss last season to the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving night, the "butt fumble" was born.
The play, which occurred when Sanchez fumbled while sliding into the behind of teammate Brandon Moore, leading to a touchdown for the Patriots, has its own Wikipedia page. The blooper propelled the Jets into national headlines for all the wrong reasons and summed up just how far out of favor Sanchez had fallen with the fan base.
When the Jets took Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Sanchez.
As the debate raged on as to who would be the team's starting quarterback and when Smith would eventually take over, the conversation was put to an end when Sanchez was oddly inserted into the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game against the Giants.
Playing behind a bunch of backup offensive linemen, he was hit hard by defensive tackle Marvin Austin and knocked out of the game with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
With Smith growing into the role of starting quarterback and Sanchez due a considerable amount of money if he's not cut before next season, the preseason play likely marks the last time we'll ever see the Sanchize in a Jets uniform.
While the team moves on from the Sanchez era, it's hard not to reflect on what a whirlwind the past four years have been.
If Smith is to learn anything from his predecessor, it's that New York can be a surprisingly forgiving and understanding city when things are going well. When you're riding high, there's no greater place to live or play.
But once the bar has been raised and expectations are not met, they won't find hesitate to find someone else who can get the job done.