Rex Ryan: 'My future's not going to be based on one player'

Rex Ryan looks on in the fourth quarter

Rex Ryan looks on in the fourth quarter of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 2, 2012) (Credit: Getty)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Blind loyalty.

It's been labeled Rex Ryan's greatest character flaw by some, and the very reason his run as coach of the Jets could end sooner than he might have anticipated.

His commitment to Mark Sanchez, which was reaffirmed by his decision to keep the quarterback as his starter for Sunday's game in Jacksonville, has only helped to fuel speculation that Ryan's future here is tethered to the success or failure of his franchise quarterback. And in the court of public opinion, Ryan's decision to stick with Sanchez could cost him a lot more than just a win over the lowly Jaguars.

Ryan, however, on Thursday dismissed the assumption that his future is "tied" to Sanchez's performance in the last four games of the season. Though he joked that NFL coaching isn't the most stable of professions, he quickly pointed out how he can ensure a long career.

"The one thing that can affect job security is winning," he said. "Everybody wants that. It's what our fans want, it's what [owner Woody Johnson] wants. It's what we all want.

"I think this decision is a big one, though, due to the fact that there are two positions where you can lose a game the fastest in this league: quarterback and cornerback."

Ryan later clarified that the play of one guy -- in this case, Sanchez -- isn't enough to cost him his job.

"I think you can lose a game fastest there, at that position. There's no question," he told Newsday. "But my future's not going to be based on one player. I think it's just going to be on the collective efforts. I'll be evaluated, like any coach, on how his players play and, eventually, what your win-loss record is. 'Cause that's something they can see, it's right there in black and white. Because we're all trying to win. Obviously, right now we're not very good, but the season's not over.

"But to say that it's just lumped in specifically to this one player, I don't believe that's true."

Jets fans, of course, are well aware of the importance of quarterback play. The Jets are 11-15 in their last 26 games Sanchez has started, dating to last season. His mediocre play finally cost him his job -- temporarily -- as Ryan benched him in the third quarter Sunday against Arizona in favor of the inexperienced Greg McElroy.

But after two days of internal discussions after their 7-6 win over the Cardinals, Ryan went back to Sanchez, who has thrown 13 interceptions and 12 touchdown passes this season and is owed a guaranteed $8.25 million in 2013.

Ryan reiterated that his decision to start Sanchez was based solely on beating the next opponent, not blind devotion.

"I think I'm loyal to all of our players," Ryan said. "I don't think there's any doubt of that. But I also have a responsibility to this football team, and that's to put the best guys out there that give us a chance to win. I believe I've made the decision here to go with Mark because it's something I believe in."

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