Ryan: Jets need to get better at QB

Updated: March 19, 2013, 5:44 PM ET
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com

PHOENIX -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said Mark Sanchez would begin the offseason program as the team's starting quarterback, but he made it clear that Sanchez's hold on the position is not guaranteed.

"The first snap, he'll be the guy running out there first," Ryan said Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. "But there's going to be competition at that spot, there's no question about it. We need to get better at the quarterback position."

Ryan also said that Tim Tebow, Sanchez's backup for most of last year, would get the opportunity to compete. 

"He's on the roster, and he'll get a chance to compete," Ryan said of Tebow. "We'll see how the offseason plays out, but right now Tim is on our roster."

A league source indicated to ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday, however, that nothing has changed with regard to Tebow's status on the team. The Jets are holding out hope they can trade him and are in no rush to do so. They could stretch the process out to the draft, but failing a trade, the Jets will release him, the source said.

The Jets brought in veteran David Garrard to provide competition for Sanchez, who was the unchallenged starter at the position for his first three years in the league before his 2012 struggles led to the temporary elevation of Greg McElroy to the spot. Garrard has not played in the NFL in two years and comes with plenty of injury concerns, but Ryan said the team worked him out enough to be confident that he could compete for the starting job.

"We wouldn't have brought in David if we didn't think he could provide competition," Ryan said. "Now, he hasn't played in two years, and we recognize that. But the main thing is, when we go through the process, that we feel good about what comes out of it."

That could mean Garrard as a replacement for Sanchez or as a kick in the tail to prompt Sanchez to show improvement in the face of the first serious challenge to his job security as an NFL quarterback. 

Ryan also was asked about the idea of adding Kevin Kolb, recently released by Arizona, to the mix at quarterback. He indicated that the idea had not yet been seriously discussed.

"If we feel that would help the competition, then that's something we would look into," Ryan said.

Ryan spent much of his hourlong session at the AFC coaches breakfast expressing his trademark confidence in his team, more than once saying things like "people should be more scared of us than we are of them."

He listed young players on the defense -- specifically linebacker DeMario Davis and defensive linemen Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson -- as players who he expected to perform at a higher level this year. But considering the value of the position in today's game, he spent precious little time talking about his quarterback situation and was asked toward the end about the extent to which the uncertainty there challenges his overall confidence.

"I'm confident that we're going to improve at that position," Ryan said. "That position will play much better. That position will protect the ball better. I'm confident that we're going to see that."

ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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