News Column

Jets' Ryan Shows Lack of Faith in Tebow

Oct. 31, 2012

By Mike Garafolo

Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan's reluctance to replace quarterback Mark Sanchez at this point tells us all we need to know.

Even more than he's a supporter of Sanchez, he's not a big believer in Tim Tebow. And he might not have wanted Tebow in the first place.

The New York Jets headed into their bye week 3-5 after Sunday's awful loss to the Miami Dolphins in which Sanchez played one of his worst games of the season (28-for-54 for 283 yards, one touchdown and one interception).

The crowd booed every time Sanchez walked onto the field late in the game, clearly stating which quarterback it thought could better lead the Jets at this point. Ryan heard it. He's been hearing it for weeks now. And he ignored it.

If Ryan were going to make the move, now would be a fine time to do it, with the bye and the focus on Hurricane Sandy this week giving him as much cover as he could possibly get for what would be the biggest news story in the NFL.

Ryan didn't make that move. He's sticking with Sanchez, whose 72.8 passer rating ranks him ahead of only three other starters -- Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and John Skelton.

"I think Mark gives us the best chance to win, and that's how I feel," Ryan said on a conference call Monday.

There was no hedging there. This wasn't Andy Reid saying Michael Vick was the Philadelphia Eagles' starter and he'd be evaluated going forward. It was Ryan clearly stating Sanchez was the better quarterback than Tebow.

The story Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have shared about the acquisition of Tebow involves the two of them sitting in Newark Liberty International Airport, discussing what elements Tebow could bring to their offense. Tannenbaum was all for it and allegedly so was Ryan when his GM asked his opinion.

But Ryan's reluctance to start Tebow indicates one of a few things: He wasn't so hot for the acquisition at the time, he was all for it provided Tebow would only be a Wildcat option or he has soured on the idea of Tebow as a quarterback in the seven months since the trade.

Ryan is the one who has seen Tebow in practices since the spring. He realizes what Tebow could do at quarterback. He knows owner Woody Johnson proclaimed last month, "You can never have too much Tebow." Yet Ryan is basically telling everyone that with Tebow under center the Jets would be worse than the sputtering performance they put on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

That should tell us plenty.

All Ryan would have to do is make the Skip Bayless argument of "All he does is win" and point out that the Jets have done more losing than winning with Sanchez this season. While many wouldn't support his decision of benching Sanchez, at least Ryan would have sound reasoning to support the move. But Ryan is sticking with Sanchez. He did not hedge. Against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov.11, Sanchez will be the quarterback.

Sanchez said he understood the fans' impatience.

"There is nothing I can do about it," he said. "You're playing in a big market, and this is a grown man's game. They want results and we're not playing well, so they are going to call for someone else. It doesn't matter."

Meanwhile, Tebow remains guarded in his comments when asked about the chants for him.

"I'm just ready and willing. Whenever they call my number, I go out there to help the team, and I'm not listening to what the crowd is saying," he said.

Ryan says the fans can chant but the decision is his and his alone. One thing is clear: It's going to take more pathetic play from the Jets offense for Ryan to make the move.

In the debate about whether Tebow or Sanchez is the Jets' best option at quarterback, it is clear where Ryan stands. This week's decision told us that.

The man with the most information to make that decision is sticking with struggling Sanchez. And that says it all.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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