Mark Sanchez or Greg McElroy? Rex Ryan noncommittal on Jets QB

Mark Sanchez of the Jets looks on from Mark Sanchez of the Jets looks on from the sidelines in the fourth quarter during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Rex Ryan has three quarterbacks at his disposal -- Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy. And the Jets coach said he has no idea which one he'll start Sunday in Jacksonville.

"Right now, I definitely need more time to make that decision," Ryan said Monday.

He anticipated making the announcement by tomorrow. Whatever it is, he said it will be based on the good of the team.

Said Ryan: "There are a lot of decisions you make as a coach that are tough decisions . . . If you always put the three priorities first: the team, the team and the team . . . the decision is sometimes easier.

"You have to take personal feelings outside of it because it's bigger than just me, this person or that person."

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Ryan made the difficult decision of benching Sanchez after nearly three miserable quarters Sunday against the hapless Cardinals. With Tebow inactive because of two fractured ribs, the coach turned to McElroy.

Despite never having played an NFL game, the third-stringer came in with 4:48 left in the third quarter and led the Jets (5-7) on their only scoring drive to win, 7-6, at MetLife Stadium.

And now, Ryan finds himself in a quarterback "controversy" no one saw coming.

Although he's been a staunch Sanchez supporter the past four years, he was noncommittal about the status of his franchise quarterback. Ryan said he wants to have an "open discussion" with his coaching staff -- mainly, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.

"I just want to make sure that I get all the facts and everything else," Ryan said. "It's a big decision. Obviously, the decision, I think, has to be made in what gives us the best opportunity to beat Jacksonville."

Although he wouldn't definitively say Sunday that Sanchez would remain the starter against the Jaguars, Ryan said he expected him to "bounce back and be ready to roll."

Against Arizona (4-8), he completed only 10 of 21 passes for 97 yards, was sacked three times and threw three interceptions.

Monday, Ryan denied the benching was a wake-up call for Sanchez. "Mark Sanchez has won a lot of football games for this franchise, has won some big games for us, has produced a lot of big wins for us and has been a good player for us," he said. " 'Final wake-up call?' I don't know about that."

To Ryan, Sunday's performance was the final straw in a string of bad games for Sanchez, who has completed only 55 percent of his passes and thrown 13 interceptions to 12 touchdowns. But throughout Sanchez's struggling season, Ryan never called on Tebow, his current No. 2, to take the reins.

Asked if Tebow has a chance to start Sunday in his hometown of Jacksonville, Ryan said: "You can put him in there, you can put whoever in there."

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Tebow, the much-hyped offseason acquisition, has been a non-factor all season, even when healthy. Now that he has a rib injury, it doesn't appear likely that Ryan will hand him the starting job.

So that leaves Sanchez and McElroy -- the face of the franchise vs. the newbie.

McElroy took his uplifting debut in stride, going to the team facility on a "victory Monday" off to work out and begin his video study. "Just a standard Monday," he said. "Wouldn't have it any other way."

The third-stringer -- who made headlines in January after he said the Jets' locker room was cluttered with "extremely selfish individuals" -- said he's not lobbying to start over Sanchez and Tebow.

"It doesn't change our relationship and it doesn't change how supportive we are of one another," McElroy said of Ryan's pending decision, via conference call. "Whoever's on the field, I know the other two guys will be pushing for that person and supporting him every step of the way. That's been the case up to this point, and I wouldn't expect that to change."

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