- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Good morning, Jets fans. It's a great day for a quarterback controversy.
Leave it to the Jets to create a rare, three-pronged controversy. Rex Ryan faces an extraordinarily complicated decision: Mark Sanchez vs. Greg McElroy vs. Tim Tebow. We know this much: Two players won't be happy with the outcome.
My initial reaction after the game was that Ryan would make McElroy the new starter. After thinking about it, I'm hedging. It would be awfully risky. Third string to starter in one week? That would be like making Caleb Schlauderaff the new left guard after four decent series. My gut tells me he'll give Sanchez one more chance, with a quick hook next Sunday in Jacksonville if he doesn't get his act together.
Here's a breakdown of Ryan's decision:
Reasons to start him: There are 8.25 million reasons -- the amount of guaranteed dollars they owe him in 2013. Bench him now, and you're basically saying you no longer believe in him as your franchise quarterback. That could be a tough sell to owner Woody Johnson, who signs the checks and may hand out pink slips at the end of the season. On Friday, QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh said "we're committed" to Sanchez. How would it look if they bench him a few days later in favor of a third-stringer?
Reasons to sit him: The offense showed no life Sunday with Sanchez in control, probably because he beat the life out of the unit with his three demoralizing interceptions. This has been a pattern, as Sanchez's turnover total has soared to 18, including five in the last two games. Ryan's credibility is at stake here. Can he look his players in the eye and honestly tell them Sanchez gives them the best chance to win?
Reasons to start him: He won Sunday's game, providing an obvious spark. He's highly intelligent and demonstrates good instincts for the position. If Ryan wants to win public support, this is the way to go. McElroy is the most popular guy in town. He could be a short-term fix against suspect competition in the coming weeks.
Reasons to sit him: The organization doesn't consider McElroy a quarterback with No. 1-caliber skills. Until Sunday, he was deemed a developmental player who could become a solid No. 2. He lasted until the seventh round of the 2011 draft for a reason. He's limited because of his arm strength, which has improved but doesn't allow him to make all the throws with zip. Does Ryan want to entrust the remainder of the .season -- and perhaps his job security -- to a player with seven career passes?
Reasons to start him: Until Sunday, when he sat out with fractured ribs, Tebow was No. 2 on the depth chart for every game. Unlike McElroy, he has won games in the league, including a playoff game. That should count for something. Ryan could have a credibility issue if he benches Sanchez and opts for McElroy over Tebow. It would be like demoting two players, making a farce of his season-long contention that Tebow is No. 2.
Reasons to sit him: The ribs are a factor -- and so is his unconventional quarterbacking style. Obviously, Ryan doesn't think much of Tebow's passing ability or else he would've gone to him during Sanchez's earlier slumps.