Mark Sanchez calls benching 'disappointing'
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez watched the slew of cameramen jockeying for position from across the locker room.
A playoff-sized media crowd descended Wednesday upon the Jets' practice facility, poised to capture every sound bite in the wake of Rex Ryan's decision to stray from his former starting quarterback. As Sanchez, once the heralded face of the franchise, spoke to reporters in front of his locker, his eyes darted to the commotion across the room, directly in front of Greg McElroy's stall.
"It's disappointing," Sanchez said of Ryan's decision to start McElroy, the former third-stringer, in Sunday's home finale against San Diego. "You just hate letting other guys down, and that's the worst part of it."
The benching came after a Monday night meltdown against the Titans, in which Sanchez threw four interceptions and lost a fumble with 43 seconds left to seal a 14-10 loss that eliminated the Jets (6-8) from playoff contention.
At his postgame news conference, Ryan said he was "not ready" to name his starter against the Chargers. But Sanchez said Wednesday that Ryan told him in the locker room after the game that he would not start in Week 16.
Ryan wouldn't say whether Sanchez or Tim Tebow will be the No. 2 quarterback, but he added that McElroy will get the majority, if not all, of the practice reps this week. Sanchez said he worked with the scout team Wednesday and in 7-on-7 drills. As for Sunday, he said he assumes he'll just chart plays and offer McElroy support.
Sanchez's future with the franchise is even more unclear, despite being owed a guaranteed $8.25 million in 2013.
"I really haven't gone there in my mind," he said, adding he "of course" wants to remain a Jet. "So I'm really not worried about that. I'm focused on helping Greg as much as I can this week and helping this team."
Although there were reports the Jets will try to trade Sanchez and Tebow in the offseason, a league source told Newsday Wednesday night, "While trading Sanchez can't be ruled out, the team will consider all options during the off-season. No determination has been made." Trade talks cannot begin until after the league trading period starts in March.
A change of scenery may suit Sanchez just fine, Joe Namath said. "He's not as bad as he's played this year," the former Jets great said of Sanchez on ESPN radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning'' show Wednesday. "I think he's going to be around for a long time. For his sake, I hope it's not with the Jets."
However, former Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins gave a scathing review of Sanchez.
On a segment of Showtime's "Inside the NFL,'' Jenkins said Sanchez "could have gotten better but he wanted to sit back. He wanted to pose for magazines, worry about his haircuts, and do all of that stuff . . . He coasted. They coddled him."
Sanchez made it clear he doesn't agree with Ryan's decision but said he respects it. He also took ownership of his poor play -- an NFL-worst 50 turnovers the past two seasons.
"No matter what kind of situation you're in, the quarterback has the ball and it's my job to make good decisions with the football, regardless of personnel situations," he said, referencing Tebow's presence.
Sanchez refused to entertain hypotheticals about his future with the Jets, but he said he "absolutely" will have a chance at being a starter again.
"You have to feel that way and be confident as a quarterback, no matter how many interceptions or touchdowns or anything you've thrown," he said. "I just have to be ready to come back strong -- and I will.''