Ryan says 'no question' Sanchez still Jets starter
Despite struggling again in a 23-17 loss to the Houston Texans, Sanchez is still Rex Ryan's guy - despite many fans and media suggesting a switch to Tim Tebow could help the Jets (2-3) get back on track.
"Yeah, no question," the Jets coach said Tuesday without hesitation when asked if Sanchez remains the team's starter.
Sanchez has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in four straight games, and his 48.4 completion percentage ranks last in the NFL. He also has an unsightly 66.6 quarterback rating, which is 31st in the league - ahead of only Kansas City's Matt Cassel (66.2) and Cleveland rookie Brandon Weeden (64.5).
Ryan wouldn't speculate on whether he might pull Sanchez for Tebow if the starter continues to struggle and the Jets' two-game losing streak increases.
"I'm not going to get into the what-ifs and all that," Ryan said. "We're not preparing to lose, that's for sure. We're thinking we're going to win, starting this week."
Ryan thought Sanchez "played pretty good" Monday night, especially considering that he was without top receiver Santonio Holmes, out for the season with a foot injury, rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill and tight end Dustin Keller - both out with hamstring injuries. The Jets coach cited three dropped passes and four tips as skewing Sanchez's final stats: 14 of 31 for 230 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
"I thought he was accurate with the football," Ryan said.
But, he also had some poorly timed mishaps. With the Jets trailing 14-7 and driving before halftime, Sanchez had a pass tipped by J.J. Watt that went off Jeremy Kerley to Brice McCain, who ran back the interception 86 yards before Kerley caught him at the New York 9. Houston then kicked a field goal to take a 10-point advantage.
Sanchez had a chance to lead the Jets on a potential winning drive with 3 minutes left, but a pass to Jeff Cumberland tipped off the tight end's hands and right to Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson to end the comeback bid.
Sanchez also missed a shot at a big gain in the second quarter when he found a wide-open Antonio Cromartie, but his throw caused the cornerback, playing a few snaps at wide receiver, to drift as he caught it out of bounds.
"We had Cromartie beat his guy, about 3 or 4 yards behind a guy," Ryan said. "That's probably one throw we wish, Mark wishes that he had back."
The tipped passes at the line of scrimmage are cause for concern, and Ryan said the Jets need to do something "to maybe help him" during practice to prevent those types of miscues.
"It's really too bad," Sanchez said after the game. "That happened quite a bit tonight, so we've got to find a way to keep the defensive linemen's hands down."
Meanwhile, Tebow had a few moments in which he sparked the offense - but they were again few and far between. He ran for a first down on a fake punt, got the crowd fired up when he ran for 13 yards for a first down in the fourth quarter and nearly completed a nicely thrown deep pass that Jason Hill couldn't handle.
Other than that, Tebow's time was mostly spent on the sideline trying to keep himself mentally in the game. In a game in which many expected to see the popular backup in bunches, Tebow ended up playing just seven offensive snaps.
"I just want to be ready when my number is called and however I can help this team," said Tebow, who has repeated that line all season. "When I'm out there, I'm going to give my heart and soul on every single play."
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