FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Tim Tebow still is trying to keep his usual upbeat attitude, but even the NFL's most positive person appeared and sounded more than a bit deflated Wednesday.
Tebow could not hide his disappointment at being passed over by Rex Ryan for the chance to start at quarterback on Sunday, with Greg McElroy going from inactive to starter and Mark Sanchez heading to the bench for the game against the Chargers.
"Some things are hard to understand," Tebow told reporters Wednesday, a day after learning from Ryan that McElroy would start and Tebow, the backup quarterback all season, would remain there. "Sometimes things just happen out of your control. Obviously, even though you might not be pleased with them, you have to try and handle them the best you can."
Tebow put on the best front he could, but even he seemed puzzled by the decisions made around him and, though he denied that he had asked for a trade or release, sounded as though he'd be on his way out as soon as the Jets' season ends on Dec. 30 in Buffalo.
"Every opportunity you get you want to make the most of. I would have loved to have more of an opportunity to just play quarterback," he said. "Obviously that's my goal and I want to make the most of these last two weeks and see what happens after that."
Tebow was more direct about the head-scratching trade from March that brought him to the Jets from Denver for fourth- and sixth-round picks than Ryan was Wednesday. The Jets coach gave Tebow his longest on-field run Monday night, keeping Tebow on the field for an entire series that ended with a punt, but the way Tebow has been used this season is still a mystery.
"We felt good about Tim being the backup quarterback but also being a guy that can contribute in other ways, kind of like [former Jet] Brad Smith," Ryan said. "With most backup quarterbacks, you never even see them. They never play a snap. I thought there was value in a guy that can do different things like a Brad Smith, who you can run as a Wildcat guy and your backup quarterback is also contributing each week."
But Ryan clearly does not see Tebow as a "real" quarterback, and the clarity of that seemed evident to Tebow.
"I don't feel deceived," Tebow said. "I appreciate the opportunity I've had here and I want to make the most of these last two weeks . . . I don't have regrets. I believe everything happens for a reason. It's a learning opportunity for me and there's a lot that I've learned, good and bad. I still appreciate the opportunity to come be a Jet."
That opportunity has produced very little.
Ryan said Tebow may get another full series on Sunday, but again only in the Wildcat package; Tebow reiterated his belief that he sees himself as a regular quarterback.
This has been the split between coach and player all season.
With McElroy getting his shot on Sunday, that split almost certainly will be the reason Tebow seeks a trade or his release once the season mercifully ends in 10 days.
"I'm not sure," Tebow said when asked if Tuesday, the day he was informed of the quarterback change, was his lowest moment as a Jet. "That's a good question."