Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow have talked since the
spring about what a terrific relationship they have, despite being
the focal points of the Jets' non-stop quarterback drama.
So here's the bright side to Wednesday's events: They now have yet another shared experience to help them bond.
Tebow was his usual upbeat self for the most part in his regular media session, despite the fact that the backup quarterback was ripped anonymously by teammates in a Daily News story that appeared Wednesday.
In the story, various unnamed sources in the organization, including players and team officials, said Tebow has not improved as a quarterback and is not a viable option to replace the embattled Sanchez as the starter for the Jets (3-6), who visit St. Louis on Sunday. Tebow was acquired in a trade with Denver in March.
"I've been in those shoes," Sanchez said. "So, if anybody knows what it feels like, it's me."
Sanchez also was ripped by unnamed teammates and members of the Jets' organization in a story in January, which portrayed him as pampered and coddled by the organization, and a player who is not a leader.
Tebow "is mentally tough enough to handle that, I know it," Sanchez said of the anonymous criticism. "He's smart, he's strong mentally and physically, and it really won't bother him. That's all you do in that situation: keep working hard, keep trusting the guys around you [and] keep playing."
In the story, one anonymous Jet said Tebow was "terrible" and another said "We don't look at him as a quarterback" but as a "Wildcat guy."
"I'm proud to be a Jet," said Tebow, who called his teammates "awesome dudes" and "great guys."
"You try to be stronger from it," added Tebow, who said he hadn't read the story but had been told about it.
"It doesn't really make me worry," Tebow said. "Negative things being said about you always can be a little frustrating or saddening, but at the same time you're always motivated to go out there and keep working. I've had to deal with a lot of negative comments and criticism in my football career, so it motivates me and pushes me to try and get better."
Earlier in the day, coach Rex Ryan was in major damage-control mode at his news conference, although for a change, the struggling Sanchez was not the subject. Ryan contended there is no fracturing on his team, which had serious chemistry issues down the stretch last season that contributed to a season-ending, three-game losing streak.
"I did address it" to the team, he said of the anonymous quotes. "It's a cowardly thing. ... If you put your name to it, people will respect you a lot more."
The one player who put his name on his comments was left guard Matt Slauson, who said the quarterback competition is "not even close. All the other quarterbacks know it. I have all the confidence in Mark. We don't really have a choice."
He also referred to Tebow as an "athlete."
Slauson said those comments weren't recent.
"It could have been Week 1," he said Wednesday. "It could have been training camp."
Still, he added, "I feel Mark is our quarterback. That's how I feel."
Tebow and Slauson said they talked and that they had no problems with one another.
Slauson "is an awesome guy and we have a great relationship," Tebow said. "He's someone you love having on your football team."
Ryan said he didn't agree with all of Slauson's comments, but added, "I have no problem with Matt Slauson because he put his name on it."
As for the chemistry of the 2012 locker room going forward, Ryan said, "This team, in my opinion, is not going to be pulled apart by outside people."
But the anonymous quotes came from within the team. Still, Ryan added, "I think this team is coming together."
Ryan also said he was on the board with the Tebow acquisition. People such as NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci have said Ryan didn't want Tebow and that is demonstrated by Tebow not being utilized very often.
"I absolutely wanted Tim here," Ryan said. "I was very honest from Day One [about that], and I've never gotten off that."
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