Greg McElroy sacked 11 times as Jets lose to San Diego Chargers

Jets quarterback Greg McElroy, right, is sacked by Jets quarterback Greg McElroy, right, is sacked by San Diego Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget, left, during the second half. (Dec. 23, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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The Jets proved it doesn't matter who their starting quarterback is.

For all the self-created drama involving their three signal-callers, the truth of the matter is the Jets simply are subpar in every facet.

In Greg McElroy's first NFL start, the Jets' offensive line tied a team record with 11 sacks allowed and the defense gave up two third-quarter touchdown passes in a 27-17 loss to the Chargers Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets (6-9) dropped their home finale to ensure their first losing season since 2007.

"It's just embarrassing," cornerback Antonio Cromartie said as he walked through the locker room afterward.

Rex Ryan and his players had promised they'd finish the final two games on a high note. But in a half-empty stadium Sunday, the Jets showed little fight in the second half.

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McElroy was 14-for-24 for 185 yards with no touchdown passes, an interception and a fumble. He ran four times for 25 yards.

"Offensively, you're not beating anybody when you play like that," Ryan said. "It's just hard to put into words. You get sacked 11 times. It's extremely frustrating. I expected a lot better, but that never happened."

"At the end of the day, we're human," Braylon Edwards said. "We know we're not going to the playoffs. Guys are probably thinking about a million and one things, as well as the last game. This is where true professionals step up to the forefront and they can block out the distractions for that last game."

The highlight of the afternoon was Jeremy Kerley's 42-yard Wildcat pass to Clyde Gates, a surprise play that caught the Chargers (6-9) off guard. It helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Shonn Greene that tied it at 7 with 9:20 to go in the first quarter.

But the near-perfect execution of the Wildcat early in the game raised the same head-scratching question: Why is Tim Tebow even here?

In a surprising move, Ryan chose to dress all three quarterbacks, but neither Mark Sanchez (who was benched Tuesday in favor of McElroy) nor Tebow ever saw the field. Even stranger, the team's game-day flip card made no distinction between Sanchez and Tebow, listing each as the No. 2 quarterback.

But after 15 weeks of absolutely no method to Tony Sparano's offensive madness, the Jets' offensive coordinator showed he can be creative when he wants to be. The question: Why hasn't Tebow been used the same way?

Ryan said it was his decision to use Kerley in the Wildcat. And when Tebow was asked who told him he wouldn't be used in the formation, he replied: "It just kind of happens."

But according to a report from ESPNNewYork.com, Tebow was so upset about being passed over for McElroy this week that he told coaches he didn't want to be used in the Wildcat against San Diego. The report, which cited "multiple Jets sources," came out after the players' media availability.

Greene, who entered the game 49 rushing yards shy of reaching 1,000 yards for the second straight season, ran for 38 yards. His two 1-yard TDs gave the Jets a 14-7 lead, but the offense stalled from there.

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This time Ryan didn't need to confer with the front office or his coaching staff about who should start the next game. McElroy will get the nod again.

"When he wasn't on his back, I thought he did some good things," the visibly upset coach said. "I'm going to give him another opportunity against Buffalo and we'll go from there."

McElroy's first NFL start began painfully. He was sacked for a loss of 9 yards on his third play of the game and the Jets allowed Michael Spurlock to return a punt 63 yards for a touchdown just 1:59 into the game.

The Jets' defense later squandered a 14-10 lead, as Philip Rivers threw TD passes of 37 yards to Danario Alexander and 34 yards to Antonio Gates in the third quarter.

"It was a plethora of things," linebacker Bryan Thomas said, trying to explain what went wrong. "You can't pinpoint one thing. Special teams, offense and defense wasn't good at all -- plain and simple."

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