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Woody Johnson: We're keeping Tim Tebow

Jets owner Woody Johnson looks on as his

Jets owner Woody Johnson looks on as his team warms up before playing against the Giants during a preseason game. (Aug. 29, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez said what Rex Ryan couldn't.

The face of the Jets' franchise believes he'll remain the starter as long as he's with this organization, regardless of how long team owner Woody Johnson says Tim Tebow will be here.

"I just don't think any different," Sanchez said Wednesday of keeping his job. "I came here to play and that's what I'm doing. I don't plan on anything going different."

Ryan, however, wasn't as definitive. Offering the "anything can happen'' line, he said of Sanchez: "He's our starting quarterback this week, barring injury."

Ryan, of course, doesn't want to paint himself in a corner. But last year he had no problems venturing out on a ledge for his quarterback. Following the Jets' 17-13 Week 11 loss to the Tebow-led Broncos, Ryan defended Sanchez in the face of his detractors, saying: "He's going to be our quarterback for as long as I'm here."

Sanchez, at least publicly, didn't seem bothered Wednesday by Ryan's refusal to commit long term. "He has faith in me," the quarterback said. "I believe that. I'm not worried about that. I'm really not."

According to Sanchez, there is no difference between Tebow and his former backup Mark Brunell, who was never a real threat to take over. "I mean, he's a little faster," Sanchez joked, "but Brunell's getting older."

Sanchez once again was forced to field questions about his popular backup after Johnson said yesterday morning on CNBC that he expects Tebow to remain with the team for the duration of his three-year deal. If that's the case, the Sanchez-Tebow tandem could exist through 2014.

Neither quarterback has fared all that well this season: Sanchez has completed only 48.4 percent of his passes while throwing six touchdowns. He also has six interceptions and a 66.6 rating. Tebow has thrown only two passes (one completion), rushed 14 times for 57 yards and hasn't scored or thrown for a touchdown.

But regardless of their mediocre statistics, Sanchez said he and Tebow can coexist for years to come. "It's going all right now," Sanchez said. "It's possible. It's going well for me."

From day one, Tebow has said he hopes to "expand" his role, but Wednesday he expressed contentment with his current status as backup quarterback. He repeatedly voiced his desire to "be a great Jet teammate" and said how "blessed" and "excited" he is to be playing with this team. But when asked if he'd be staying in his current role for his entire Jets tenure, Tebow finally said something interesting.

"I don't know what the future holds," he said. "Who knows? For me, I just worry about today, try to get better today, do the best I can on the practice field and when I get opportunities, try to make the most of them."

Of course, Sanchez hopes those opportunities don't come at his expense. But the starter also said he hasn't been distracted by the Tebowmania phenomenon. His solution -- "Stick around the building. Put the blinders on, put some ear plugs in and keep playing'' -- is fairly easy to do because he understands it comes with the territory of being a quarterback in this market.

"He's part of our team," he said of Tebow. "He's helping us win. But as far as 'Who should play, who should not play,' I don't listen to that. I just don't. I'm not built like that."

When reminded of the constant media coverage -- including that of ESPN, which camped out in Cortland for a week during training camp -- Sanchez said: "There are a whole lot of other channels. And there's a power button."

Sanchez also knows that all of the scrutiny and all of the questions will subside if the Jets (2-3) string together more wins.

"When you're winning, it's great, it's easy, it's fun," Sanchez said. "And when you go through some tough times, that's when you've got to find a way to dig yourself out and use the best shovel possible."


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