New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, in perhaps his most revealing comments yet on the team’s simmering QB controversy, wouldn’t commit to the slumping Mark Sanchez beyond Sunday.
“I’m letting you know right now, he’s our starting QB this week,” Ryan said.
It didn’t sound like a long-term commitment, not with the “this week” qualifier. Pressed on the problem, Ryan answered, “What do you want me to say? He’s our starter. He’s our starter this week.”
It is a stark contrast to a comment he made last November, when Sanchez was struggling. One day after losing to the Broncos – and Tim Tebow, by the way – Ryan gave Sanchez an iron-clad endorsement, declaring, “He will be our QB for so long as I’m here, which I am hoping will be for a long, long time.”
Now, forever allegedly comes with an expiration date.
Ryan’s lukewarm vote of confidence came on the same day in which owner Woody Johnson said he wants Tebow on the Jets for the remainder of his deal – through 2014.
“Are we going to keep Tebow? Totally,” Johnson said. “He’ll be with us for 3 years. … I think he’s going to be a real valuable asset in terms of helping us win games.”
Johnson, whom many think was the driving force behind the team’s decision to trade for Tebow, also voiced support for the embattled Sanchez. But he stopped short of saying Sanchez never would be benched.
“Never is a long time period,” Johnson announced. “But I see the same stuff in Mark Sanchez (as) when I first met him … We think he’s that good. He actually is that good. I wouldn’t look at the numbers too seriously. A quarterback’s job eventually is to win games. Mark Sanchez has shown that he can do that.” Baseball spreads
Sanchez is 29-23 as a starter, plus 4-2 in the postseason, but he’s mired in one of the worst slumps of his career — 4 consecutive games in which he has completed less than 50% of his passes. He’s ranked at or near the base of the league in the most of the major statistical categories, fueling an outcry for Ryan to start Tebow.
Ryan insisted he will not bow to public pressure.
“One thing I know about the public: The public wants to win, just like we do,” Ryan asserted. “The decision of playing Tebow will be my decision. It isn’t going to be the public’s decision or anybody else’s. It’s on me.”
Ryan echoed Johnson’s sentiments about Tebow, saying “without question” he would like to keep him thru 2014. But he quickly added there aren’t any guarantees with any player, and they wouldn’t ignore a chance to improve the team.
The N.Y Jets are paying Tebow a sum total of $1.6 million this season, but they’re on the hook for another $2 million to the Broncos as part of the trade agreement – a considerable investment for a so-called backup.
Ryan said he remains “very confident” in Sanchez, insisting his trust in him hasn’t wavered in any way. But the Jets (2-3) have dropped 2 in a row and the injury-plagued offense has produced just 2 touchdowns in the last 3 games.