As if having their starting quarterback under fire wasn’t bad enough, the Jets are now deflecting flak from a Wednesday story where an unnamed player described backup quarterback Tim Tebow as “terrible.”
The story in Wednesday’s New York Daily News cited a “defensive starter” who bashed Tebow’s ability and mechanics. In addition, guard Matt Slauson was quoted as calling Tebow “an athlete,” insinuating that he’s not a quarterback.
Tebow has been used sparingly by the Jets this season in the Wildcat role and on special teams despite the fanfare surrounding his acquisition in March. Last year with the Broncos, Tebow made 11 starts and led Denver to a 7-4 record along with an AFC West title and a win in the playoffs.
“When we made the trade for Tim Tebow, he came here to be the backup quarterback. We recognize that he is a unique skillset that can do more than just be a backup quarterback. … He came here as a backup quarterback and a guy that is going to work on developing his skills,” Ryan said. “Every single day when he hits the field, he works about as hard as anybody I see. He stays longer than any player we have working on those skills. Check that box, he’s done that. He’s a football player and I’ve said that from day one. We never brought him in here to be the starting quarterback. We already have a starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez. I thought I was clear on that from the day we brought Tim in here.”
The comments and media uproar comes days after another poor performance by Sanchez, who was just 9-of-22 for 124 yards with an interception and three sacks in a loss at Seattle on Sunday. There has been speculation by many fans and many in the media that Tebow provides a better chance for the Jets to win.
For Ryan, the bigger issue was not the comments themselves but the anonymous nature of the quotes, even calling them “cowardly” at one point. Ryan addresssed the situation during a talk with the team Wednesday morning.
“If you’re going to make a negative comment, that’s fine. We don’t say it always has to be a bed of roses. Again, put your name to it and all that. I think people will respect you a lot more,” Ryan said.
Ryan had no issue with Slauson’s comment, given that it was attributed. Ryan wasn’t necessarily pleased with them but seemed far more willing to understand them than the anonymous quote that turned the story into a headline.
“I have no problem with Matt Slauson because he put his name on it. I don’t agree with everything Matt said. I agree with the fact we have a starting quarterback. We’re confident and obviously Matt is confident in Mark Sanchez,” Ryan said. “I think it is interesting, his comments — my understanding is — were made much earlier this season. It’s not like it’s just a recent comment.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live updates from practice and quotes from every Rex Ryan press conference.