“From the day Mr. Johnson hired me,” Ryan said, “he said it’s 100 percent my decision who plays.”
Sanchez, whose confidence was shaken with Sunday’s performance, gets a chance to bounce back from the first benching of his NFL career and to regain the trust of his teammates. He has struggled recently, with two touchdowns and five interceptions in his last four games.
“It was probably the worst and best experience of my life,” Sanchez said. “Hopefully, you learn from it and move on and never look back. It was definitely was the worst, but it could turn around and be one of the best things that’s ever happened.”
He said he had never been benched, except for maybe on his fifth-grade basketball team.
“I think (Ryan) was, more or less, sending a message and it’s well-received,” Sanchez said. “I know. I got it.”
He’ll likely be on a short leash against Jacksonville — with Tebow the No. 2 if healthy, and McElroy also ready to go — but Ryan acknowledged it might not be a quick hook if he struggles. Ryan also referenced the team’s color-coded system which determined how much risk Sanchez can take with each pass, saying the quarterback is now back in the “red light” area — meaning he must be extremely cautious.
“If he throws one interception, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get benched, necessarily,” Ryan said.
It’s still uncertain if Tebow will be active against his hometown Jaguars while he recovers from two broken ribs. Despite being medically cleared by team doctors to play, Ryan chose to keep him active but not play against New England on Thanksgiving night, and then made him inactive against Arizona.
If Ryan went with McElroy, a seventh-round pick in 2011 out of Alabama, it would have been a clear indication the franchise is moving on from Sanchez.