Ryan and the Jets insist he has made a difference on special teams, though, as New York’s personal punt protector because opponents have been forced to account for him since he has pulled off a handful of fakes.
“We asked him, a former Heisman Trophy winner, first-round pick, a quarterback who led his team to a playoffs that, ‘You know what? We want you to be our personal protector,’” Ryan said. “Everything we’ve asked him to do, he’s done.”
But with Sanchez mired in a dreadful slump in which he has thrown two touchdowns and three interceptions, lost three fumbles and been sacked 11 times in the Jets’ last three games, Ryan remains committed to him as the starting quarterback. Many fans and media have been calling for Tebow to take over for Sanchez to, more than anything, provide a spark for the offense.
For now, though, this remains Sanchez’s team. And Tebow will remain on the sideline for most games, aside from the seven or eight plays he averages.
“He’s a football player and I said that from Day 1,” Ryan said of Tebow. “We never brought him in to be the starting quarterback. We already had a starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez. I thought I was clear on that from the day we brought Tim in here.”
Ryan did, in fact, insist since the offseason that Sanchez was his guy, and he has stuck to that. But the latest locker room chatter presents an issue that the Jets are all too familiar with. In-fighting helped sink New York’s season a year ago, with Sanchez and Santonio Holmes at odds nearly throughout.
After the season ended, several anonymous players were quoted in a media report saying they were uncertain of Sanchez’s leadership abilities and called for the Jets to make a hard push for Peyton Manning. Ryan insists keeping his locker room together, something he thinks was a bit exaggerated last year, won’t be a problem this time around.