43° Good Afternoon
43° Good Afternoon
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Rex Ryan's QB decision a no-win situation

A composite image of Jets quarterbacks Tim Tebow,

A composite image of Jets quarterbacks Tim Tebow, left, Greg McElroy, center, and Mark Sanchez. Photo Credit: Getty Images, AP, David Pokress

Just when you thought it was time to fold up the circus tent . . . the show goes on.

Give the Jets credit, though. For a team whose playoff hopes all but died before the Thanksgiving dishes were dry, they continue to display a remarkable ability to generate headlines, controversy and general amusement.

This leads us to Rex Ryan, who now is faced with one of the thorniest decisions of his coaching life after declining several opportunities Sunday to quell a newly twisted quarterback controversy.

Who will start against the Jaguars, sir? Mark Sanchez, the golden boy with $8.25 million guaranteed in 2013? Tim Tebow, the internationally known attention magnet?

Or Greg McElroy, a seventh-round draft pick? His biggest claim to fame as a pro before Sunday was a radio interview after the 2011 season in which he ripped teammates for their selfishness.

Good luck with that, Rex!

"I'll let you guys know who's going to be the quarterback when I'm ready,'' Ryan said after a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium in which McElroy accomplished more in 1 1/2 quarters than did both starters combined.

Usually, we in the media like to offer helpful advice on such matters. But here is the real problem Ryan faces: There is no good decision.

There is only one, really: Identify and acquire a viable quarterback for the long term, even in a year in which there are no apparent Andrew Lucks or RG3s on the draft horizon.

Whether because of his own limits or the psychological torture foisted upon him since the Tebow trade, Sanchez now officially appears to be a basket case. He was 10-for-21 for 97 yards and three interceptions against Arizona and finished with a 21.4 passer rating -- even worse than the 28.0 Arizona's shockingly awful Ryan Lindley recorded.

(Arizona had five first downs, was 0-for-15 on third downs and totaled 97 yards if you don't include a successful fake punt. Where have you gone, Kurt Warner?)

Ryan put a supportive arm around Sanchez in the locker room afterward, but the quarterback soon was giving an intriguing answer when asked why he went to Ryan to confirm he was being benched, even after coordinator Tony Sparano had given him the news. "I just wanted to hear it from the head coach, that's all,'' Sanchez said. Hmmm.

Tebow? He's got a rib injury, for one thing, and Ryan never saw fit to pull the trigger on Sanchez during earlier struggles when Tebow was dressed and ready. The Jaguars have been selling extra tickets for fans hoping to see their hometown hero next weekend, but it now is not clear whether Tebow will dress even if healthy.

McElroy? He was glowing afterward, jazzed by a crowd that cheered him like a conquering hero after his game-winning 1- yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland. He said Cumberland spiked the ball so hard that it bounced into the stands. When McElroy asked for the ball, a grateful fan promptly returned it.

So why did Ryan decide to switch? "I felt I needed to make a change,'' he said. "That's why I made it.''

Said McElroy: "You never know. This is a crazy game.''

That's for sure. When Sanchez was struggling and Tebow was mostly standing around earlier in the season, Ryan gave no indication he considered the third-string quarterback a serious option.

He definitely is now, because if Ryan does go with Sanchez over McElroy in Jacksonville, a significant portion of the fan base will be most unhappy.

But if he doesn't, what is he saying about Sanchez, about whom he famously said this 54 weeks ago: "He's going to be our quarterback for as long as I'm here, which I hope is a long, long time."

Odds are Sanchez and Ryan both will be here at least through 2013. Hence Ryan's dilemma. I wish I could help, Rex. It's even sort of my job. But you're on your own.

New York Sports