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Rex Ryan: It's not all Mark Sanchez's fault

Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets

Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets looks on in the first quarter as Marcus Thomas #79 of the Denver Broncos reacts at Invesco Field at Mile High. (Nov. 17, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Rex Ryan came to Mark Sanchez’s defense as only a coach could.

In the wake of the most embarrassing loss of the season, the head coach maintained Sanchez will remain the franchise QB as long as he’s the head coach of the Jets.

“I’m extremely confident. We’ll go out there and play tomorrow. That’s how I feel about Mark,” Ryan said in a conference call Friday morning, a day after his team’s shocking 17-13 loss to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. “This is our quarterback, he’s going to be our quarterback for as long as I’m here, which I hope is a long, long time.”

Though Sanchez went 11-for-11 during one stretch, he finished 24-for-40 with 252 yards and threw a key interception that was returned for a touchdown. He also was sacked three times and let a snap sail over his head for a 25-yard loss.

But despite two straight losses and Sanchez’s recent struggles, Ryan said his confidence in his QB has not wavered.

“He can make all the throws. He’s a competitive guy,” said the coach. “Has it been perfect? No, absolutely (not). But it hasn’t been perfect for our entire team. We just got to keep getting better.”

After the game, Mark Sanchez stood stone-faced in front of the media and accepted  responsibility for the loss. “I let the defense down, however you want to phrase it,” he said. “It’s just an embarrassing day for me.”

Having lost both regular-season meetings with the Patriots, the Jets (5-5) can kiss the AFC East title goodbye. But what’s even more disheartening for Jets fans is the fact that they very well could miss the playoffs altogether, having lost games -- and head-to-head tiebreakers -- to Oakland, Baltimore, New England and Denver.

But Ryan insisted Sanchez shouldn’t be the scapegoat for their tenuous playoff chances.

“It doesn’t belong on Mark’s shoulders,” the coach said. “He’s just a player. He’s a big piece of the puzzle, but it wasn’t all on Mark Sanchez. And I know he takes it, that’s the kind of young man he is. And he’d be the first one to admit that he’s got to be more consistent, we’ve got to cut down on some errors and some things. As does the rest of the team, myself included and every other coach. We’ll all take this collectively, but he doesn’t need to put it on his shoulders.”

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