Florham Park, N.J.: Rex Ryan stepped to the podium Wednesday to rationalize his decision to start Mark Sanchez on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Really it’s a decision I feel great about,” said Ryan.
Ryan wasn’t clear on when the exact moment was that he made up his mind (sometime yesterday, to be specific), but he met with all three quarterbacks this morning and explained to them why he made his decision.
Ryan said he “wasn’t convinced by somebody” specifically, but also said, “I wanted to get the pulse from a lot of different people.” Ryan also admitted there was not a unanimous opinion across the board and that opinions did vary.
Ryan argued against the assumption that personnel decisions on the field are made from people above Ryan on the food chain. “I don’t get pressure from Woody,” said Ryan, “It’s 100 percent my decision on who plays and what their role is.”
Ryan thinks Sanchez will benefit from the benching during the Arizona game. “He hasn’t had that before,” referring to watching another quarterback from the sideline. “Sometimes your view becomes clearer.”
“I felt confident in my abilities. I think just coming off of this last weekend, things could be a lot worse,” said Sanchez. “We could have lost the game. Like I said on Sunday, I was happy for Greg.”
“I’m thrilled for the team and I’m pleased with Rex’s decision and now it’s my job to go make him right. Not just him, but the rest of the guys in the locker room and to go and compete my butt off and play like I know how—to protect the football, and do it for the rest of the guys in this locker room.”
Ryan was quick to praise Greg McElroy, who came in and threw the game-winning touchdown against Arizona. “He took it to a higher level,” said Ryan, while he also admitted that McElroy’s play made this an actual decision. “It did make me think on what the appropriate decision was.”
“Obviously, if a certain situation were ever to come up, God forbid, I would like to know that I will be prepared and just continue to keep doing what I was doing before and continue to keep trying to improve,” said McElroy. “That’s really the number one thing for me at this point and obviously, to help Mark and Tim and that’s my number one goal. So I was glad I was able to get a little playing time and tried to make the most of it and hopefully I continue to build off that and try to get better.”
Ryan also said that if Tim Tebow is healthy, he will be the team’s No. 2 quarterback.
McElroy seemed to understand his role with the team at this point. “Not at all because honestly, roles change day-to-day. In this game, in this sport, in this profession, you’re not guaranteed anything, so not at all,” said McElroy about being surprised if he was the third string quarterback this coming Sunday. “Obviously all you have to do is, when you are in the game you have to do your best to try to make the most of your opportunity and do your best to help the team be as successful as they possibly could be. We did some good things on Sunday, and we were able to do enough for a win, but understand that roles are never set in stone, they can change day-to-day and just whatever your role may be, embrace it and try to do whatever you possibly can to help the team.”
Lastly, Ryan understands this decision falls squarely on his shoulders and isn’t looking for anyway out if choosing Sanchez turns out being the wrong decision.
“Obviously I have to get this one right and I believe I have,” said Ryan.
When asked if this was Sanchez’s worst experience of his life, Sanchez responded “It was definitely the worst but it could turn around and be one of the best things that has happened.”
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