Just a day after an ESPN.com column speculated about the possibility of Jets owner Woody Johnson pushing for Tim Tebow to become the starting quarterback, head coach Rex Ryan endorsed his current starter Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez is coming off one of his worst performances in what is now his fourth year in the league, going 13-for-29 for 103 yards and an interception in a 34-0 loss to the 49ers. The clamoring for Tebow, arguably the most popular athlete in the nation, makes some sense as he was 7-4 as a starter in Denver last season and led the Broncos to the AFC West title and a win in the AFC wild-card game.
Ryan praised Tebow while reiterating that Sanchez is still their starter.
“No question I believe he’s a good quarterback,” Ryan said of Tebow. “Again, I judge quarterbacks on records and that’s why I think he is. We’re fortunate that we have two guys that have won five playoff games, two young quarterbacks. I don’t think other teams have that. I just see that Mark is our starting quarterback but what’s intriguing about having Tim there is that if something happened to Mark you feel good that you have a quarterback that can win in the National Football League. The other thing is that he can play other positions.”
Going with Tebow would be a gamble to say the least. Panned widely as an athlete and not a quarterback, Tebow isn’t known as being a prototypical pocket passer. This year with the Jets, he’s been used only sporadically in the Wildcat offense rushing nine times for 38 yards. He had his first pass of the season last Sunday, a 9-yard completion to Dedrick Epps that resulted in a fumble.
Now in his third year, Tebow has a career 47.5 completion percentage.
It would be a stretch to defend Sanchez this year based off their lukewarm 2-2 record or a stat line that includes a 49.2 completion percentage and four interceptions with two fumbles. But Ryan said Sanchez hasn’t lost the confidence of his teammates.
“I think what guys really respect is work ethic and preparation and I think they really respect that,” Ryan said. “I think that the entire team respects Mark.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.