Rex Ryan supports Mark Sanchez
For now, he has the support of Rex Ryan, who was bombarded with questions Monday as the inevitable Sanchez-Tim Tebow controversy erupted.
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"I think (Sanchez) is definitely our guy," Ryan said. "I don't want to get into the what-ifs, this, that or whatever. I just know in my heart, right now, that this is not the time (to change)."
After six months of simmering, Sanchez-Tebow has reached a full boil, with Sanchez coming off three straight poor performances.
Even Jets owner Woody Johnson, appearing on a Bloomberg TV political show, was asked about the quarterback situation.
"It's a question that will be asked more frequently if this progresses, because this is unacceptable playing," Johnson said.
Johnson was referring to Sunday's 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, one of the worst offensive performances in Jets history. It marked only the fourth time in team history that the Jets were shut out with fewer than 150 yards of total offense, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
And Sanchez is hearing it.
Ryan acknowledged Sanchez has to raise his game, but he wasn't about to bail on his hand-picked franchise quarterback.
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"Do I think Mark has the talent to be an excellent quarterback? I do, absolutely," Ryan said. "We just have to find a way to get that done. ... Right now, I think Mark gives us our best opportunity to win."
Jets linebacker Bart Scott echoed that sentiment, saying it would be a "panic" move to bench Sanchez in favor of Tebow.
"It's (the media's) job to push the panic button," Scott said. "(The media) would change it from week to week. I don't think we're at that point yet. Mark is our quarterback. We believe in him and the team will rally around him. ... You just don't jump ship after a couple of weeks without playing the type of football you want."
What makes this controversy different from others is that Ryan has the ability to increase Tebow's role without having to bench Sanchez, thanks to the Wildcat package. Ryan didn't want to get into that discussion, but it's a possibility.
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So far, Tebow hasn't been on the field for more than three consecutive plays, but he could get an entire series if the Jets feel he could provide a spark. That hasn't happened yet.
In four games, Tebow has played in only 32 snaps on offense, including 18 at quarterback. The ballyhooed Wildcat, hyped all summer by Ryan, has flopped. Tebow has rushed nine times for 38 yards and has attempted only one pass, a 9-yard completion.
Ryan conceded the Wildcat has been a disappointment.
"We haven't been as successful at running the Wildcat as I thought we would," Ryan said. "I think that's fair to say, but without question, I'm not ready to give up on (Tebow)."
The Jets (2-2) have bigger concerns than their underachieving Wildcat. Sanchez has gone three straight games below the 50-percent completion mark, the offense has produced only two touchdowns in the last 12-plus quarters, the running game is non-existent and the receiving corps is banged up.
They won't have Santonio Holmes next Monday night against the undefeated Houston Texans; their No. 1 wideout could miss significant time with an undisclosed foot injury. Fellow starting wide receiver Stephen Hill also is a question mark with a pulled hamstring. Tight end Dustin Keller (hamstring) has missed three straight games, but he could return.
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Scott said Sanchez has been undermined by injuries.
"We're talking about him playing another elite defense, possibly without his three starting receivers," Scott said. "I don't know any other quarterback that has faced that adversity so far. Maybe one player, but not two (and) I know for a fact not three."
Sanchez, who had two turnovers and only 103 passing yards against the 49ers, said after the game he's not worried about his job security. Tebow said he supports Sanchez, who never had a backup that posed a legitimate threat.
"I think as competitive as Mark is, I know this is killing him," Ryan said.
Ryan doesn't want Sanchez to press; he wants him to play within the structure of the offense, not "a guy looking for a three-run homer with one guy on base."
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