- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- President Barack Obama made waves when he said a potential quarterback controversy would concern him if he were a New York Jets fan, but coach Rex Ryan was as tight-lipped as Bill Belichick when asked to respond.
"I'll say this, I respect President Obama and I respect the fact that this is his opinion," Ryan said Friday.
"That's it," Ryan said, with a Cheshire grin. "I'm not taking the layup and all that jazz. That's it."
This is the kind of thing Ryan might have had a little fun with in the past. Ryan is the guy who, on his first day as head coach, said he thought the Jets would make a championship visit to the White House in Obama's term.
Jets players who had heard Obama's remarks -- and a startling number said they hadn't -- disagreed with the assessment that quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow were not the recipe for a stable season.
"We don't have a two-quarterback system," cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. "We have a one-quarterback system, and that's with Mark. The Jets fans shouldn't be worried at all."
"Shout out to Obama -- I'm behind him 100 percent," wide receiver Patrick Turner said. "But I think this will be the first time a two-quarterback system will work. Tebow, for what he did last year, I felt like he kind of changed the game a little bit. That's why he's here. Guys are behind him. I'm behind him 100 percent. What he can do is something special.
"When you can offset an old-fashioned, a regular quarterback with something out of the normal like Tebow, I think it's a good counter for what we're trying to do."
Left guard Matt Slauson kept his comment simple.
"He doesn't play football for the Jets," Slauson said of Obama.
"We have as clear-cut a starting quarterback as other teams," Ryan said. "Mark Sanchez is our starting quarterback, but we have an athlete and a special talent in Tim Tebow that allows us to do different things that maybe other teams don't have. So we're going to play Tim Tebow because it helps us, it's going to help our football team win games."
Ryan did take a moment to reflect that he was responding to a critique of his offense by the leader of the free world, something that he probably never envisioned needing to do.
"It shows how popular our game really is," Ryan said. "Every single person has an opinion, and it seems like they have an opinion on our football team. It's amazing: This is the president of the greatest country there is, and he's talking about the New York Jets football team."