New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said the National Football League team will wait until after its final preseason game to settle a quarterback controversy that had New Jersey’s governor weighing in today.
The Jets haven’t decided who will be the team’s starting quarterback when the regular season starts in two weeks, Ryan said today at a news conference. Mark Sanchez, the team’s starter for the past four seasons, won’t play in New York’s final preseason game on Aug. 29 after injuring his throwing shoulder, potentially clearing the way for rookie Geno Smith to grab the starting role.
“We’re not going to rush the decision until we’re completely comfortable with the decision,” Ryan said. “I don’t know what else to say about it.”
Ryan declined to comment on his decision to play Sanchez alongside back-ups in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants two days ago after Smith stepped out of bounds for a safety and threw three interceptions. Sanchez, 26, injured his right shoulder when he was knocked to the ground after attempting a pass midway through the fourth quarter.
After the game, Ryan told reporters that he stood by his decision to play Sanchez. The coach became frustrated when pushed for more information, invoking freedom of speech to declare, “I can say anything I want,” and at one point turned his back on a reporter while answering a question.
Ryan said today that he wasn’t approached by team owner Woody Johnson or General Manager John Idzik to discuss his decision to play the Sanchez in the fourth quarter or his actions after the game.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie endorsed Sanchez as the starter today in a radio interview, telling New York’s WFAN that Jets fans have “amnesia” regarding the veteran quarterback. He said Sanchez’s struggles last year, when he had 26 turnovers, were a product of a poor supporting cast.
“Yeah, he was awful last year, but by the way, he had no weapons last year to throw to,” Christie said. “He had no receiving corps, he had no running game and the offensive line was below average. So what are you looking for from the guy? I think they’ve treated him awfully.”
New York’s starter for the past four seasons, Sanchez led the team to American Football Conference championship games following the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He has committed an NFL-high 52 turnovers in the past two years, and the Jets are a combined 14-18 in that span.
Sanchez won’t practice this week and is considered day-to-day, Ryan said today. He declined to elaborate on the injury, and wouldn’t say if the quarterback was scheduled for more tests. Sanchez completed five of six passes for 72 yards against the Giants.
Ryan said it hasn’t been decided whether Smith, 22, would play against the Eagles. He said he had confidence in each of the team’s four quarterbacks, including Matt Simms and Greg McElroy.
“Geno has done a lot of really good things,” Ryan said. “Did he have a rough night last night? Yes, he absolutely did. But again, I feel confident in him, I feel confident in Simms, because he’s earned respect.”
Earlier today the Jets announced the release of 15 players, including former Pro Bowl wide receiver Braylon Edwards and running back Joe McKnight. NFL teams must reduce their rosters to 75 players by tomorrow and settle on a final 53 by Aug. 31.
The Jets open the regular season on Sept. 8 at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In anticipation of the quarterback uncertainty, the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book moved the Jets to 3-point underdogs. The Buccaneers were previously favored by 2 1/2 points.