In reviewing the Mark Sanchez contract extension, it is apt to think back to some comments former New York Jets defensive end Gerry Philbin made about Joe Namath's situation heading into New York's 1968 Super Bowl season.
In the NFL Films documentary series "America's Game," Philbin indicated that Namath's wild off-field ways were starting to affect his on-field performance and costing the team games it should have won.
At that point, Philbin said the Jets management knew they had to do something to get Namath to change his ways. The higher-ups went to the other players on the squad and asked them to elect Namath captain. They figured if he had a leadership role on the team, it would give him a sense of responsibility and make him step his game up.
Eventually, this strategy worked, and Namath started to play at a consistently strong level. When that was combined with a superb amount of talent around him (as the 1968 Jets certainly had), it led to a Super Bowl victory.
The moral of this story is that even the best young quarterbacks in the NFL don't always arrive with strong leadership skills. It also shows that a team can be patient in developing that aspect of a quarterback's game as long as the circumstances are correct.
That is why, as frustrated as Jets fans may be about the end to the 2011 season or that the team won't be signing Peyton Manning in free agency, New York made the right move in offering Sanchez the contract extension. A closer look at New York's metrics from last year shows that Sanchez and this passing game are not very far away from helping to carry this team to another deep playoff run.