Rex Ryan explains quarterback decision

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
5:50
PM ET
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan was defiant.

Just as boldly as he's has made Super Bowl guarantees in the past, Ryan didn't blink, budge or waffle Tuesday from his gutsy decision to surpass two former first-round picks on his roster in favor of Greg McElroy, a 2011 seventh-round pick. That's a bold move for a head coach in danger of his second consecutive non-winning season.

But Ryan took complete ownership of his decision to start McElroy over fellow quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez this week against the San Diego Chargers. Ryan said the decision was all his, which means he's ready to take the fall if McElroy doesn't pan out.

"That's what I feel in my gut," Ryan said via conference call. "I like what I saw from Greg against Arizona and I like what I see on the practice field. I truly believe it's best for our team right now. That's how I feel about it."

Ryan has always claimed Sanchez gave the Jets the best chance to win. This is the first time in four years he's changed his tune in favor of McElroy. But you can't blame a change of heart after Sanchez committed a season-high five turnovers -- four interceptions and one fumble -- in Monday's 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The biggest question is why not Tebow?

The Jets made a big offseason trade to acquire Tebow but have been clueless with what to do with him. Tebow has been the No. 2 quarterback all season. He's recovered from his rib injury and is ready to start. However, Ryan passed him over for McElroy, which is a clear indication the Jets do not think much of Tebow as a quarterback.

"I know [Tebow] is a tremendous competitor. I don't doubt that at all," Ryan said, not budging. "But for right now, I think this move is best for our team in this game. I believe that and that's why I’m making the move that I’m making."

New York’s quarterback situation is an utter disaster. And unless McElroy becomes the next Tom Brady, which is highly unlikely, it won’t get better anytime soon.

The Jets asked for a quarterback circus and they certainly got one. Few believed the Sanchez-Tebow dynamic could work in New York, but this turned out to be even worse than most projected.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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