Florham Park, N.J.: When the Jets decided to acquire Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos this past offseason, talking heads around various sports media outlets claimed there was a quarterback controversy. Before practice, let alone games, were even played, Rex Ryan had to field questions on the leash length on Mark Sanchez and when the inevitable takeover would happen.
Ryan gracefully announced Sanchez was, “their guy” over and over for whoever asked.
The season just passed the quarter mark, and Ryan is answering those same questions over and over due to the lack of production from Sanchez thus far.
“I’m not going to deal with what ifs because I’m telling you right now he’s our starting quarterback this week, barring injury, and I feel really confident in Mark and you’re right I’ve never wavered on that,” said Ryan at his press conference today.
But the media-driven story line of Tebow taking over the starting quarterback role will not die out, as week in and week out Ryan must field questions on how bad it has to get before Tebow is allowed to get a chance.
But Ryan keeps it cool as usually, saying “I got no problem. I got no problem answering questions each week, I don’t. You guys know me. He’s our starter, what do you want me to say? He’s our starter this week, he’s our starter. You can take answer A and answer B and come up with C, I guess.”
With the media-driven Tebow storyline, there comes the running sentiment that the suits upstairs in management have the final say on how the story will play out. It is sometimes believed that ownership has more of an interest in selling tickets in comparison to winning games, and this would eventually lead to Tebow being placed as the starter if this Jets season spirals out of hand quickly, but believe what you will.
In an interview on CNBC, Woody Johnson backed Sanchez, saying “We think he’s that good. He really is that good. I wouldn’t look at the numbers too seriously … A quarterback’s job ultimately is to win games. Mark Sanchez has proven that he can do that. He pulled out a game a few weeks ago in the last couple minutes when we played Miami.” Johnson also said that they plan to keep Tebow for all three years of his contract and answered “absolutely” when asked if they planned on keeping the most famous backup quarterback in the NFL.
But Ryan might have squashed all theories that involve management deciding who the quarterback of the Jets will be, as he made it clear that those are, and will be, his decisions. Ryan was asked that because of Tebow’s polarization, does that effect decisions such as putting him in at the end of the 49er’s blowout (noting it’s common for a team to put in their backup if the game is out of hand) because a media firestorm might ensue, which the team might not recover from. In short, has Tebow’s polarization had an effect on any of his coaching decisions thus far.
“No,” said Ryan. “None whatsoever. During that game that never…none of those thoughts have ever…we picked him [Tebow] up because we thought, and we know, that Tebow’s a good football player. He can bring our team certain elements that we thought were missing the year before. I think that’s it. One thing about the public is that the public wants to win just like we do, and I understand that. But, the decision of playing Tebow is going to be mine decision. It’s not going to be the public’s decision or anybody else. It’s on me and quite honestly, I think I’ve learned through the years to tune out the public a little bit because it’s probably a good thing. Sometimes they’re not real flattering as I’ve learned to walk off the field and keep earmuffs on.”
Ryan concluded talking about how Tebow’s presence can possibly effect the play of Sanchez. “The way I feel about it, we answered that question when we drafted Mark,” said Ryan. “Playing in this market, not every quarterback can play quarterback in this market. You mentioned bringing Tebow in, obviously with his popularity and all that, that could be a distraction or whatever but quite honestly, Mark views it as Tim’s a good teammate. That’s the way it is. Mark knows he’s our quarterback, he hits the practice field everyday to get better and I think that’s what really drives Mark.”
Yes, Ryan has said each and every week that Sanchez is and will remain the starter, but it was helpful to hear Ryan tell us that no outside pressure will effect his decision making. The worst case scenario for this franchise would be if management was pressing the coaches to make personnel decisions, and as we take Ryan at his word, it seems as if Ryan is steering the ship.
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