Rex Ryan sticking with Mark Sanchez at Jets quarterback
Until a change is made, it seems the questions will continue. But a day after boos rained down on Mark Sanchez in his home stadium, Rex Ryan backed his starting quarterback.
"Yeah, no question," the coach said when asked during a conference call Tuesday if he's still committed to Sanchez.
For a fourth consecutive week, Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his passes -- a byproduct of some poor throws, miscommunication with receivers and dropped balls. With the Jets (2-3) missing three of their top offensive weapons in Monday night's game against undefeated Houston, Rex Ryan had to rely on seldom-used wideouts and a recently signed free-agent receiver to complement slot receiver Jeremy Kerley and backup tight end Jeff Cumberland.
But despite Sanchez's paltry stats -- .484 completion percentage (last in the NFL) and six interceptions against only six touchdown passes -- after the 23-17 loss to Houston, Ryan maintained that Sanchez is the man. The coach also refused to entertain any hypothetical scenarios that might force him to start backup Tim Tebow.
"I'm not getting 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."
The Jets, who never led, had a chance late in the game. But the opportunity was wasted when Sanchez's pass bounced off Cumberland's fingers and into the hands of cornerback Kareem Jackson with 1:51 left. And with that interception went another chance for Sanchez to prove he can succeed in a seemingly impossible situation.
"Last night, I thought he played pretty good," Ryan said of Sanchez, noting the three drops by receivers and four pass breakups by the Texans. "I thought he was accurate with the football."
The coach did, however, mention that Sanchez would like a do-over on his deep sideline throw to Antonio Cromartie that was caught out of bounds.
It was clear as early as Week 2 that Sanchez missed Dustin Keller, his preferred target. In the wake of so many injuries to the wide receivers, the tight end's absence has become glaring. Keller said before Monday's game that he expected to play this week. Ryan said he was "encouraged" by Keller's optimism.
"There's no question it's going to be great to get Dustin back," he said of the tight end, who played only in the season opener against the Bills.
Ryan also said he isn't giving up on the "Tebow package." The backup quarterback (five rushes for 19 yards) provided a spark Monday with a first-down run on a fake punt and a 13-yard run to Houston's 3. But Ryan still wants to see more productivity.
"I wish we'd have a little more success with it," he said of the selection of plays for Tebow. "At times, it looked really good and we just have to stay with it. I can tell you this, when I talked to [Texans defensive coordinator] Wade Phillips, I know how much preparation time it took from them. And hopefully, it's not just about preparation but it's that we can make some plays."