Rex Ryan, after a few days of deliberation, stuck with Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback after benching him Sunday for third-string Greg McElroy in a win over Arizona.
Ryan, the Jets’ coach, had maintained Sanchez “gave us the best chance to win,” but finally pulled him after three interceptions against the Cardinals. He could not call on Tim Tebow, who many Jets fans are waiting to see in an extended role; Tebow was out with fractured ribs.
Enter McElroy, a seventh-round pick from Alabama, who was not overwhelmingly impressive, although he did toss the game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass. But going with someone other than Sanchez would have put Ryan and the Jets in the position of admitting they made a mistake in drafting and investing so much money in Sanchez, which is not what they are prepared to do, although he has 18 turnovers this season.
The consequences of Ryan’s decision go far beyond Sunday. The Jets are heavily invested in Sanchez, who is owed $20.5 million guaranteed through 2013 after agreeing to a contract extension in March. Starting McElroy whose only N.F.L. experience comprises his stat line against the Cardinals (5 for 7 with a touchdown pass), would have signaled the Jets’ lack of faith in Sanchez moving forward, casting into doubt his future with the team.
The Jets, at 5-7, are technically alive for the playoffs, but they trail both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh by two games for the A.F.C.’s final playoff spot.
Sanchez helped N.Y. to back-to-back AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons. Since then, his record is 13-15, with 44 turnovers.
How Tebow fits into the equation remains to be seen. He’s recovering from fractured ribs, which kept him out last week. He was the No. 2 quarterback for the first 11 games, but it’s possible he could be deactivated for the second straight week.