- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Mark Sanchez has lost his job, but Rex Ryan isn't thinking about his own job status.
"I've always said this, the priority is not me by any stretch," the New York Jets' coach said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. "So I'm not thinking about myself. I'm thinking about this football team and trying to get this team ready to play. And believe me, that's the truth. I think if you focus on the job at hand, that I'll be better off that way than any other way."
Ryan has two years left on his contract. But after reaching the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons at the helm, the Jets have now missed the playoffs in back-to-back years following Monday night's 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Jets finished 8-8 in 2011, and with two games remaining, that's the best the team can finish in 2012.
"Obviously, as a football team we're 6-8, and nobody's happy about that," Ryan said. "Ultimately, I'm the man accountable for this, and I understand that."
"Whatever decisions are made, and everything else, this is a bottom-line business, and right now we're 6-8."
Ryan spent the vast majority of the 17-and-a-half-minute call being asked, and answering, questions about the team's quarterback situation. On Monday, the Jets announced that Sanchez was headed to the bench, and third-stringer Greg McElroy will start Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, not backup Tim Tebow.
The coach declined to elaborate much on his decision to go with McElroy over Tebow, other than to say he felt it was best for the team. Later, in an interview on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN NY 98.7 FM, Ryan stressed that the offseason Tebow trade (with the Denver Broncos) was not forced upon the coach.
"Nothing's ever forced on me," Ryan said. "I'm involved in every aspect of this team, and again, that's why I'm responsible for this team."
Before the 2012 season began, Ryan said this Jets team "has a chance to be the best team that I've had since I've been the coach here." That clearly did not come to pass, although the Jets were certainly hurt by the loss of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and No. 1 wide receiver Santonio Holmes to injury. Revis played in just two games, while Holmes saw action in four.
Ryan said Tuesday that he still thought the Jets could have made the playoffs, despite those critical losses.
"I knew it was gonna be difficult, that it'd be a big challenge, but I really thought we would be up for it," Ryan said. "We have ourselves to blame. I think with all the turnovers and things, that's been the Achilles' heel of this team."
Sanchez was the primary culprit in that department, committing a league-high 24 turnovers, including 17 interceptions.
Ryan finally pulled the plug on Sanchez on Tuesday, but continued to praise his club in other areas.
"I like the way we ran the ball," Ryan said, referring to Monday night's game. "And then playing defense -- the thing I'm really proud of with this defense, I think out of the last 11 turnovers that we've had offensively, I don't believe anybody has scored a single point off those turnovers.
"That'll tell you about the kind of pride, and just how resilient our defense has been playing. I think they've been doing an outstanding job."
12hDoug Clawson, ESPN Stats & Information