Rex Ryan sticking with Mark Sanchez as starter

Mark Sanchez reacts as he walks to the Mark Sanchez reacts as he walks to the sidelines after losing the ball in the third quarter of a game against the San Francisco 49ers. (Sept. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

advertisement | advertise on newsday

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan scoured the game tape in search of solutions, anything that might help fix everything that went horribly wrong Sunday against the 49ers.

The Jets' 34-0 home loss forced him to look inward, at his staff and at his starting quarterback. But Ryan stood firm Monday in the face of questions about a potential demotion for Mark Sanchez and prodding for more Tim Tebow time.

"I just know in my heart that this is not the right time," Ryan said the morning after the worst loss in his head-coaching career. "I think Tim is an outstanding player. I think Mark is. Right now, I think Mark gives us our best opportunity to win.''

Strangely enough, Denver coach John Fox muttered those same words last year about Kyle Orton -- shortly before promoting Tebow to start in Week 5.

And now, after another poor performance, the one thing the Jets claimed they never wanted has resurfaced: a quarterback controversy.

For much of the offseason, the front office said the drama surrounding Sanchez and Tebow was media driven. But after a third straight game in which Sanchez's completion percentage dipped below 50 percent, the Jets won't be able to ignore the calls for Tebow for much longer.

"It's a question that's going to be asked more frequently if this progresses," team owner Woody Johnson said in an interview on Bloomberg's "Market Makers.'' "This is unacceptable playing. We failed in all three areas: offense, defense, special teams. We let our fans down."

Johnson said there will be no more pressure on Sanchez to deliver, but he expressed confidence that the quarterback can get it done. "He had a bad day and the team had a bad day. It wasn't all on Mark Sanchez."

Ryan agreed and deflected inquiries about Sanchez by highlighting his team's shortcomings: lack of holes for running backs, inability to sustain drives and defensive breakdowns, particularly against the run.

Despite Sanchez's occasional faults (ball security, decision making), Ryan said: "He's definitely our guy." Linebacker Bart Scott also defended Sanchez, saying he gets "a lot of undue criticism" because of his position.

Despite Tebow's ineffectiveness in a surprisingly limited role, Ryan said he's not ready to "give up" on the Wildcat. He touted the formation as being difficult to defend and highlighted the 49ers' success -- Colin Kaepernick's 50 yards on five carries.

But as long as the offense struggles, the calls for Tebow will continue. But Scott -- who believes it's the media's "job to push the panic button" -- said it's too early for "Tebow time.

"I don't think we're at that point yet," he said. "Mark's our quarterback, and we believe in him. The team will rally around him and it's not all his fault."

Despite getting the day off, players showed up at the facility as if it were "just a normal Monday after a loss," guard Brandon Moore said.

Sunday's shutout was only the fourth time in franchise history the Jets had fewer than 150 yards in total offense, according to ESPN Stats and Info. "I know this is killing him and he's going to want to respond," Ryan said of Sanchez, who had a passer rating of 39.9.

Ryan isn't yet sure how to fix his team, but he's confident he will. And so are his players.

"You have to," Moore said. "There's no other option."

You also may be interested in: