Al Woodall jokes he's ready to start

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For a change, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan wasn't grilled with quarterback-related questions in his Monday news conference. He decided to punctuate the occasion with levity.

"I think it's Al Woodall this week," Ryan joked.

Hardcore fans will remember that Woodall served as Joe Namath's backup from 1969 to 1974. Because of Namath's frequent injuries, Woodall started more than a full season's worth of games, compiling a 5-14 record.

Reached by phone Monday night, Woodall, 67, let out a big laugh when informed that Ryan dropped his name.

"Tell him I'm ready," he said from his home in New Caanan, Conn. "Tell him Joe and I are both ready."

Later in the conversation, Woodall added, "That's really funny. I wonder if he meant it as a dig or he was just making a comment. Who knows?"

Ryan has an affinity for Jets history because his father, Buddy, was a defensive coach from 1968 to 1975, winning a Super Bowl ring in '68. As a kid, Rex hung around the team. Woodall said he doesn't remember the young Rex.

"I loved his dad, though," he said. "I liked Buddy a lot. I feel like I know Rex because of his dad."

A Jets fan still living in the New York area, Woodall has strong opinions about the Jets' quarterback situation. Who doesn't?

"I feel two things: I feel bad for (Mark) Sanchez for what he's going through and I have a new level of respect for him, the way he has toughed it out," Woodall said.

Regarding Tim Tebow, Woodall echoed the sentiments of many fans: "To tell you the truth, why get him if you're not going to play him? That would be my question to Rex, but I have a feeling (the trade) wasn't his doing."

After uncertainty last week, Ryan decided to stick with the embattled Sanchez as his starter. He passed for only 111 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Jets won an ugly game, 17-10, so the quarterback controversy is quiet -- for now.

"We'll go with Mark," Ryan said. "But after last week, it was pretty amazing how many questions we had."