The New York Jets learned the day before last night’s blowout loss to the New England Patriots that quarterback Tim Tebow had cracked two ribs 10 days earlier and still considered him the best option as a backup to Mark Sanchez, coach Rex Ryan said today.
He also said the Jets, now 4-7 on the season, are “not dead” in the hunt for a National Football League playoff spot.
Tebow, who was injured in a Nov. 11 loss at the Seattle Seahawks, was medically cleared to play in yesterday’s 49-19 home defeat against New England, Ryan said. He said he told offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and special teams coach Mike Westhoff not to use Tebow in their game plans.
“People have played with cracked ribs and all that stuff,” Ryan said on a conference call with reporters. “It was told to me that he could play. I wasn’t going to play him unless it was an absolute emergency.”
Tebow played Nov. 18 in a win against the St. Louis Rams, rushing twice and attempting one pass. Ryan avoided questions on why it took the team’s medical staff so long to reach the diagnosis, and he defended his decision to activate Tebow over third-string quarterback Greg McElroy.
“Tim’s cleared to play and it’s obviously the biggest game of the year,” Ryan said. “If we 100 percent had to have him, then I would have played him.”
The need to play Tebow became unnecessary after a 52-second second-quarter stretch in which the Patriots scored 21 points to take a 28-0 lead.
Holding a 7-0 advantage with about 10 minutes left in the half, the Patriots’ Tom Brady hit running back Shane Vereen with a short pass that went 83 yards for another score. A Sanchez fumble was returned for a touchdown by Steve Gregory on the ensuing drive, and the following kickoff was fumbled by the Jets’ Joe McKnight and picked up by New England’s Julian Edelman, who ran into the end zone.
“Watching the tape, it’s still hard to fathom,” Ryan said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years coaching football or even following football.”
The loss was the Jets’ 17th in the last 23 games with the Patriots. Ryan said he was pleased with some of the things his team did offensively, and that he intended to turn the club’s fortunes around over the final five games.
“We’re about as badly wounded as we can be, but we’re not dead,” Ryan said.
The Jets are in last place in the American Football Conference’s East Division, four games behind New England (8-3). They don’t face a team the rest of the way that currently has a winning record.
New York hosts the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2 before playing at the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans, at home against the San Diego Chargers and at the Buffalo Bills. The Jaguars are 1-9 and the other teams are all 4-6.
“I never thought we’d be in this position, but we are,” Ryan said. “I have to get better right now and we have to get better. I’m confident we will.”