- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan defended Mark Sanchez's body of work and the Jets' decision to draft him fifth overall in 2009, but he was non-committal Wednesday on whether his former starter will be back in 2013. And Ryan said the same for Tim Tebow.
"Any long-term discussion will probably be better served (for after the season)," Ryan said, claiming he's focused on the final two games.
Ryan rocked the Jets' quarterback world Tuesday, benching the struggling Sanchez in favor of third-stringer Greg McElroy.
The move reflected the organization's lack of faith in Tebow, who almost certainly will be released or traded after the season. Tebow is signed through 2014. Even though owner Woody Johnson said earlier in the season that he expected Tebow to be a Jet for the duration of his contract, the organization will look to part ways with him.
Ryan was hit with a barrage of questions about why they traded for Tebow, who barely plays, and the normally loquacious coach struggled to give a cogent explanation.
"Did I expect us to be a little more successful running the Wildcat? Yeah, I'm sure I did," he said, adding, "Has it been a perfect situation? I'd say we're 6-8. There are probably things I never anticipated, and I'm the guy ultimately responsible."
Ryan also said, "For some reason, it hasn't panned out to my expectations -- and maybe not Tim's, either."
Ryan mentioned the phrase "ultimate responsibility" several times in his news conference, sounding very much like a coach concerned about getting fired.
He turned a bit nostalgic, discussing Sanchez's playoff wins over Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Ryan gushed about Sanchez's physical talent, as if sending a message to Johnson that they didn't mess up by drafting him at fifth overall after trading up.
"When you take somebody with that pick, you understand there are physical abilities that go with it," he said. "Mark has all the physical abilities. He can make any throw. He's got the athleticism to be a tremendous quarterback. He's won a lot of games.
"His record might not feel like it now, but if you take his body of work, he's won maybe the eighth-most games since becoming a starting quarterback. (His record is 33-28.) Obviously, this year hasn't been a good year for the football team and, individually, for Mark. From a statistical standpoint, it hasn't been one of his better years."
Ryan added, "It's not like he doesn't have the physical tools to do it and that's why we took him where we did."
The Jets may have to retain Sanchez because of an $8.25 million guarantee for 2013. If they cut him before next season, they'd take a $17.1 million cap charge in 2013. If they designate him as a June 1 cut, they can spread the charge over two years -- $12.3 million in 2013, $4.8 million in 2014. If he remains on the roster, his charge is $12.3 million.
They also could trade him, but his $8.25 million guarantee makes that virtually impossible. They'd incur "only" an $8.9 million cap charge, plus the amount of his salary they agreed to pay to convince another team to take him off their hands.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan defended Mark Sanchez's body of work and the Jets' decision to draft him fifth overall in 2009, but he was non-committal Wednesday on whether his former starter will be back in 2013.