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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A day after he considered benching Mark Sanchez, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan gave his struggling second-year quarterback a vote of confidence -- with a caveat.
Ryan said on Monday that he's committed to using Sanchez as his starter, but made it clear that Sanchez needs to clean up his act in the pocket.
Ryan considered benching Sanchez in the third quarter of the Jets' 10-6 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. He talked to Sanchez about improving his footwork and overall play on Monday at the team facility.
"I told him that he's got to get better," the coach said. "[There were] quite a few problems with his footwork and he wasn't accurate with the football on several of his throws. You can't throw the ball if you're not set ready to throw out of football position."
Sanchez has completed 34 of 77 passes in the past two games, both Jets' losses. He's thrown four interceptions over that span and has been sacked seven times. He also hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in the last two games.
Against Miami, Sanchez had one of his worst games of the season, the latest in a streak of three straight sub-par outings. Sanchez finished 17-of-44 with one interception against the Dolphins. He was sacked three times and fumbled four times (one lost).
Jets receivers didn't help Sanchez's cause with five drops, three of which came in the fourth quarter. Sanchez finished the night with a quarterback rating of 45.3, his third-lowest mark of the season. He lowest (27.8) was last week against New England. His quarterback rating has been below 88 in eight of his last nine starts.
"The young man's got plenty of ability but you've got to play with more fundamentals," said Ryan, who critiqued Sanchez's footwork in the pocket.
On Monday morning, Sanchez spoke to the entire offense after its walkthrough in the Jets' fieldhouse.
"He said we have to lean on each other this week. He's going to look to improve, just like he's going to look to me to improve. I think it's really that simple," Brandon Moore said. "That was his speech."
Moore said players understood and "bought in" to Sanchez's message, but actions speak louder than words at this point in the season.
"It's time to move past the talking. No knock on him; he was just trying to bring us together and get everybody on the same page and reinforce what [offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] Schotty said in his meeting," Moore said. "Guys understand that."
Ryan said that the considered benching Sanchez in the third quarter on Sunday to give the team "a shot in the arm." But he decided against it because, he said, Sanchez had led the Jets to three fourth-quarter comebacks in 2010.
Ryan also reiterated on Monday that his suddenly-struggling Jets, who play at Pittsburgh on Sunday, will sink or swim with Sanchez.
"Mark is our quarterback and he's my quarterback. He'll always be our starting quarterback, even if I did yank him for whatever reason," Ryan said. "He is our quarterback and we're going to go as far as he takes us."Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.