Tim Tebow still wants to start

Updated: December 30, 2012, 7:43 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After spending the better part of another game on the New York Jets sideline, Tim Tebow said he wants to be a starting quarterback in the NFL next year.

Considering that Tebow couldn't even get in as a backup during a season when Mark Sanchez threw 18 interceptions and was benched twice, starting doesn't appear to be possible with the Jets.

Following Sunday's season-ending 28-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Tebow was asked if he could stay in New York with ambition to start.

"I think I'll have to take a few days to really soak in and think about everything that happened," Tebow said.

Tebow didn't want to come out and say it Sunday, but it's likely he's seen his last day in a Jets uniform.

"I think you have to take a few days to take it all in and look at the season," Tebow said. "Obviously there were ups and downs."

Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked why he never played Tebow, despite Sanchez's confidence issues as the season went along.

Ryan's answer was telling -- and boils down to thinking Sanchez and his interceptions were a better option than the unconventional Tebow, who won a playoff game last season with Denver.

"I'm trying to win the game, and that's it," Ryan said. "If I thought Tebow would have helped us win the game playing quarterback or defensive tackle, I would have played him."

Tebow has two more years left on his rookie contract, which the Jets acquired last March after the Broncos landed Peyton Manning. Rex Ryan was noncommittal about Tebow's future with the Jets.

"Tim's under contract, so we'll see what happens," Ryan said.

Ryan also said he'd been given no assurances about his own future with the Jets. Owner Woody Johnson was not at the game, and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Tony Sparano is already out as offensive coordinator.

The situation hasn't gone well for Tebow, who wants to start, or for the Jets, who were never able to install a productive two-quarterback system.

"I felt like it was a learning opportunity for me," Tebow said. "There was a lot that I'll take from it. There's a lot that I learned and there are lot of relationships that I've built, so I know that it happened for a reason."

Tebow took just one snap Sunday, a hand off to Joe McKnight for a two-yard gain from the Bills' 9-yard line. Tebow came out immediately after the play, and the Jets settled for a field goal.

Tebow wants a conventional role and frustratedly told Ryan as much after third-stringer Greg McElroy was named as the team's starter when Sanchez was benched. Tebow was taken out of the Wildcat that week and replaced with Jeremy Kerley, and was wounded when reports surfaced that the move stemmed from that conversation.

"I'm not going to worry about whether I was treated fair," Tebow said. "You just try to worry about what situation you're in and handle it the best that you can, with the most character and integrity, and worry about what I can control because that's the most important thing."

Tebow technically was listed as the backup Sunday, but he didn't spend as much time as he usually does huddling with Sanchez and Sparano with the playbook during the game. Tebow admitted he hung out by the heater a few times, but was in the huddle for the most important moments.

It was a marked difference from the start of the season, when Tebow stood next to Sparano as far out toward the field as possible, awaiting any opportunity to go in the game.

Those opportunities became more scarce, and Tebow was rarely used at all this season following the rib injury. By the time the Jets made McElroy the backup and Kerley the designated Wildcat runner, the writing was on the wall for Tebow.

Tebow did smile once in his final regular-season news conference, when asked what he thought of the constant drama swirling around the team this season.

"There definitely was a fair share of drama this year," Tebow said. "That's for sure."

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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