- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The first draft pick of the Rex Ryan era was Mark Sanchez. They became forever linked. Rex and Mark, Mark and Rex. A year ago, Ryan said Sanchez will be "our quarterback for as long as I'm here, which I hope is a long, long time."
On Thursday, Ryan distanced himself from Sanchez, saying he doesn't think his coaching future is tied to the struggling quarterback.
"Obviously we need to win," Ryan said, one day after re-naming Sanchez his starter. "This is a big decision. (A big factor) in determining wins and losses is the play of your quarterback a lot of times. But, no, I don't feel that my future's tied in with how we do things (with the quarterback)."
Ryan has two years remaining on his contract and he's not thought to be in danger of getting fired. But the Jets are 5-7, coming off an 8-8 season, and you just never know in this business.
On Wednesday, Ryan announced he's sticking with Sanchez, whom he benched in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Cardinals. Sanchez is signed through 2016, and his 2013 salary ($8.25 million) is guaranteed, virtually ensuring his return.
"Obviously, this is a win business and I know that," Ryan said. "As Brian Billick told me the other day, there's been 111 head coaches that have come and gone over the last 10 years. So it's probably not the most job-secure thing.
"But one thing I can (do to) affect the job security is by winning. That's what everybody wants. Our fans want it. That's what Woody (Johnson) wants. That's what we all want. Obviously, that's what I want."