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'Definitely competition' at QB, says Rex

Mark Sanchez leaves the field after loss to

Mark Sanchez leaves the field after loss to the San Diego Chargers at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 23, 2012) (Credit: Getty)

PHOENIX – Rex Ryan believes that the 2013 Jets will have better play from their quarterback. He just doesn’t know who that quarterback is.

Far from endorsing Mark Sanchez for the job, Ryan spoke about the most important position on a football team in vague terms and reiterated several times that there will be a competition as quarterback.

“I’m confident that we’re going to improve,” Ryan said at the AFC coaches’ breakfast at the league meetings on Tuesday. “I think that position will play much better and will protect the football better. I think that position will be more accurate.”

Note the use of the term “the position” because it could be anyone at this point. Maybe Sanchez, to whom Ryan promised only the first snap of OTAs and minicamp workouts and nothing beyond that. It could be David Garrard, the recently signed veteran who has not played in two years but who gave the Jets “a pretty amazing workout.” It be Kevin Kolb, a free agent with ties to new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg from Philadelphia.

It could even be, gulp, Tim Tebow.

“He’ll get a chance to compete,” Ryan said of last year’s failed experiment who remains on the roster.

“There is going to be competition at the position, there is no doubt,” Ryan said, refusing to give Sanchez a leg up on the job. “Somebody has to take the first snap, so that’s how I look at it, but there is definitely competition at that spot.”

Even though this will be Sanchez’ fifth NFL season, Ryan made comparisons between the 2013 season and 2009, when Sanchez was first drafted, given the uncertainty at the position.

“I don’t see how different it was than my first year when I came here when we had a rookie quarterback and Kellen Clemens (competing for the starting job),” Ryan said. “There was some uncertainty there, but one thing I was certain about was that the rest of the team was going to understand that it may take a little time. We had some rough stretches, but we were able to overcome it, make the playoffs, make a deep run. It just wasn’t good enough.”

It’s never good when a quarterback has regressed so much in his coach’s eyes that he draws comparisons to his rookie season. But that’s where Sanchez is right now, apparently. Ryan basically said that the 2009 Jets had to win in spite of their quarterback. That they may have to try to do that again five years later is startling.

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