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Thursday, December 27, 2012
Rex Ryan stays loyal to Sanchez, not Tebow

By James Walker

Tim Tebow was upset last week when the New York Jets bypassed him for third-string quarterback Greg McElroy. So imagine how Tebow feels Thursday after being passed over for the second time in a short span?

Tebow
Jets (6-9) head coach Rex Ryan delivered one last parting shot to Tebow on the quarterback's way out the door. Ryan named former starter Mark Sanchez the go-to QB for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills (5-10) after it was discovered that McElroy has a concussion. Ryan essentially stayed loyal to Sanchez over the popular backup Tebow, who clearly doesn't see eye-to-eye with the coach.

This is not a surprise. Ryan was always Sanchez's biggest cheerleader. Sanchez was Ryan's first draft pick in 2009, and they went to back-to-back AFC title games in the first two seasons. Even during Sanchez's struggles in 2011 and 2012, Ryan stood behind his guy to the bitter end. That end finally came in Week 15 when Sanchez threw four interceptions in a loss to the Tennessee Titans. Ryan had to make the tough move after being knocked out of playoff contention. But Ryan chose McElroy over Tebow, which was telling.

At that point it was clear Ryan was never a Tebow guy. The Tebow trade feels like something that was forced upon Ryan, and the coach refuses to give in, even down to the final game. Although most feel Tebow deserved a chance to start at some point this season, it simply wasn't going to happen on Ryan’s watch.

Tebow was only a No. 2 quarterback in theory. The reality is he was brought to New York to be a gimmicky No. 3 quarterback, because every time the starter went down, the Jets played someone else. Tebow is justified in feeling deceived.

But Sanchez is expected to be on the roster next season, and Tebow is not. Sanchez is guaranteed an $8.25 million salary by the Jets in 2013. New York cannot afford to take a cap hit of about $17 million by cutting Sanchez, and no team will trade for him at that salary. This is another audition for Sanchez to determine if he can compete for the Jets' starting job next season or become an expensive clipboard holder.

The good news is Sanchez owns the Bills. He is 6-1 against Buffalo in his career, which includes a 48-28 thrashing by the Jets in Week 1. Sanchez and the Jets could end an otherwise awful season on a good note with another victory against the Bills on Sunday.