Jets 2009 Motto: Win Big or Bust

Mike Tannenbaum stakes his job on Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene

The trade that landed Mark Sanchez was a bold, gutsy play by Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum. It is the kind of move that defines a general manager and the kind of move that can change the direction of a franchise for a long, long time. It can also, if it breaks the wrong way, lead to Tannenbaum's firing which means that he's got a lot of skin in the game and needs instant returns.

Sanchez has to start from day one and he has to do a reasonable impersonation of 2008's rookie sensations. Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan led their teams to the playoffs, and anything short of that isn't going to be acceptable for a Jets team that's built to win now and that just fired their coach for a close, but no cigar finish to last season. Sanchez has to hit and he has to hit big, or Tannenbaum won't be around to clean up the mess. 

He could have done more to help Sanchez and himself. Tannenbaum's other draft trade, giving up third, fourth and seventh-round picks for the first pick in the third round, was unnecessarily risky. The Jets took Shonn Greene, a tailback from Iowa who had a great senior season but wasn't worth the price paid for him. Thomas Jones may be grumbling about his contract, so having insurance makes sense but there's no way they're getting rid of Jones.

And Jones knows it. Teams that make big trades for top-five quarterbacks don't turn around and send starting tailbacks packing because they found a third rounder that they like. Jones will be back, or the Jets will have cut their nose off to spite their face.

The picks used in the Greene deal could have been used to try and grab some receiving help for Sanchez. That remains a real trouble spot for the Jets. After such a bold weekend, you might suspect that they'd try to trade for Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards, but Sanchez's contract will make that quite difficult.

Last year, Ryan got a six-year, $72 million contract from the Falcons with $34.75 million guaranteed. This year's first overall pick, Matthew Stafford, got the same six years and $72 million, but got $41.7 million guaranteed. You can bet Sanchez will be shooting for at least as much as Ryan got, which would make it very difficult to add the elite receiver the team is missing.

That means alternative routes have to be explored. Routes like Plaxico Burress. The team's spoken to his agent, although the legal situation means that nothing's going to happen in the immediate future. It may seem distasteful and little insane to have Plax in New York after all that's happened, but going all in means taking on risk that you wouldn't otherwise consider. 

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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