Tim Tebow made it clear he was unhappy about being passed over for the Jets' starting quarterback job last week. But Rex Ryan wouldn't confirm or deny the backup's reported refusal to be involved in the Wildcat package against San Diego.
"I'm not going to get into private conversations that I have with players," Ryan said during a Monday conference call. "But it was my decision to use Jeremy Kerley in the Wildcat, no question."
Following Sunday's media availability after the Jets' 27-17 loss to the Chargers at MetLife Stadium, an ESPNNewYork.com report surfaced claiming Tebow had expressed frustrations over third-stringer Greg McElroy getting the starting gig and had also opted not to be used in the Wildcat. ESPN's NFL Insider Adam Schefter, who spoke to Tebow "for a while" after the game, said on Monday that the relationship between Ryan and the backup quarterback was strained during the week.
Tebow didn't talk to Ryan on Wednesday and Thursday after learning McElroy was the new starter, according to Schefter. But Tebow ultimately told Ryan on Friday that he was willing to play in the Wildcat. By then, however, the game plan had been installed using Kerley.
Ryan praised Tebow for being a competitor and admitted the backup quarterback was "disappointed that he was not named the starter." But the Jets' coach evaded further inquiries about Tebow's lack of involvement in the Wildcat - adding another bizarre layer of spin to a perplexing and disappointing season.
"Again, I'm not going to discuss private conversations," Ryan said. "I have discussions with players all the time. But I'm not going to get into what he said, this or that, timing of this. I believe if his number was called, without question, he would have gone in and played."
The only thing is: he never called Tebow's name.
"Well, he's still got two cracked ribs," Ryan reminded his listeners. "But again, he's been cleared to play. We played him the week before in a series (against the Titans). But he still has two cracked ribs."
Nevertheless, the Jets coach chose to activate Tebow and former starter Mark Sanchez and listed them both as the No. 2 quarterback on the team's playcard. Asked whom he would have chosen if McElroy had been injured, Ryan said there wasn't a clear "second guy" and that he wanted to make sure he had "both options open." As for there season finale in Buffalo next week, there's a chance he could dress all three quarterbacks again.
Ryan wasn't forthcoming when pressed about Tebow's reported "insubordination."
"Again, I'm not going to get into that," he said of his private conversation with Tebow last week. "You guys are assuming something's a fact or whatever. That's fine. I'll say this: if I would have asked Tim to play in anything, Tim would have gone in that game and done that."
Ryan grew more testy as the questions centered on his evasiveness this season, specifically regarding Tebow. The coach repeatedly defended himself as "transparent" and one of the most forth-coming head coaches in the league.
"Well, have I lied about anything?" Ryan snapped.
While the outside world seems ready to concede the Jets' trade for Tebow was an epic fail, Ryan wasn't ready to do so. Instead, he cited their 6-9 record as the one thing he would change. "I think more than anything, it's the level of consistency, or the lack thereof, has been the biggest issue. And that's across the board. But to put it on anything else, I think, obviously the record is what it is."
Asked about the Jaguars being interested in luring Tebow back to his hometown, Ryan offered a no comment. "I'm not pulling the tampering thing," he said. "Tim's under contract with us and that's all I know."