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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Rex Ryan makes right choice with Sanchez

By James Walker

Rex Ryan hasn't made a lot of smart decisions during this awful and inconsistent season for the New York Jets. But Ryan made an important and wise call on Wednesday that will greatly impact the Jets' organization.

Ryan ended his three-way quarterback controversy this week and named Mark Sanchez his starter. It is not the popular decision. But it’s the best move Ryan could make.

Unlike most Jets (5-7) fans, Ryan must have the vision to see beyond the length of his nose. This decision had little to do with Sunday's game against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10). That game is meaningless in the big picture.

Ryan had to make the call for what's best in 2013 -- and the answer is clearly Sanchez.

Money matters in the NFL, and Sanchez will be paid like a franchise quarterback next season. He is guaranteed $8.25 million and can make an additional $500,000 by working out with the team in the offseason. A near-$9 million tab is a lot of money to have sitting on the bench. The Jets have salary-cap issues and cannot afford to pay another quarterback starter money. New York needs Sanchez to perform, and benching him for the final four games does nothing for his confidence. It only sets the table for Sanchez to have a disgruntled and disheartened offseason.

Jets backup quarterback Greg McElroy is just that -- a backup. He's a seventh-round pick with limited ability and arm strength. The Jets already know they cannot build their franchise around him. Next year will be a make-or-break for everyone in the organization, and putting a win-now mentality on a seventh-round pick's shoulders is asking for disaster.

Backup quarterback Tim Tebow is injured and simply viewed as a gimmick player by the Jets. New York would have to completely change its offense for Tebow, and that's too much to do in Week 14.

I wrote Tuesday in the AFC East blog that it's time for Ryan to come home again and start Sanchez. Ryan and Sanchez entered New York together as a rookie coach and first-round pick in 2009. Ryan has remained steadfastly loyal to Sanchez through the ups and downs, and that didn't change this week.