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Jets coach Ryan says struggling QB Sanchez 'our guy'

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Associated Press
10/29/2012 11:21:29 AM
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NEW YORK -- Changes might be coming for the New York Jets.

Mark Sanchez losing his starting job won't be among them.

Rex Ryan again stood by his quarterback Monday despite Sanchez's struggles in an ugly mistake-filled 30-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday that left the Jets coach searching for answers and fans chanting for Tim Tebow to take over.

"I think Mark's our guy," Ryan said. "I don't think there's any doubt about that. I'm confident in Mark."

There's no question, though, that the Jets (3-5) need to figure things out, and quick. They have games at Seattle and St. Louis after their bye-week break, followed by a home game on Thanksgiving night against New England.

Ryan originally planned to have the players report to the facility on Monday and Tuesday, but decided to give them the full week off to be with their families and prepare for Hurricane Sandy.

"I want them to get away and when they come back, we have to be all in," Ryan said during a conference call. "The only chance we have is if we are 100 per cent all in. We have no wiggle room. We need to start playing a ton better."

Ryan will brainstorm with his coaches this week before they take a few days off, and he expects suggestions on how to fix "everything" from everyone on his staff.

"Is it a little change? Is it a radical change?" Ryan said. "I'm up for anything."

While Tebow won't be the solution as the full-time quarterback, Ryan acknowledged that he'll explore how the versatile backup can be used more on offence after seeing minimal playing time during the season's first half. Tebow has played in just 54 offensive plays, averaging less than seven per game.

"I think we'll take a hard look at how we're using him, what we're asking him to do," Ryan said. "Are there other things we can do with him? I think you're absolutely right. We will definitely look at that."

So much was made in the off-season about how Tebow would add a unique element to the offence, whether it was in wildcat or read-option packages, but that certainly hasn't materialized. Last week, offensive co-ordinator Tony Sparano said he could "do a better job" of using Tebow.

To his credit, Tebow has not complained publicly, or offered a sliver of frustration, knowing he could be doing more to help this team.

"I'm just ready and willing," said Tebow, who even lined up at wide receiver Sunday. "Whenever they call my number, I go out there to help the team and (I'm) not listening to what the crowd is saying."

There's a good chance that Tebow will be a large part of the discussions between the coaches this week, and would understand if the backup quarterback wasn't thrilled with his role so far.

"Any competitor wants to be out there playing, so it wouldn't be shocking if that's how he felt," Ryan said. "As a football team, we're frustrated. We're getting closer and closer, and we thought we were getting better as a football team, but we took a step back yesterday."

The Jets allowed a blocked punt to be returned for a touchdown, had a field goal blocked and Sanchez fumbled on a sack that the Dolphins later turned into a score. There were mistakes all over the field, and it wasn't all Sanchez.

"We all understand it comes down to execution," centre Nick Mangold said. "It doesn't matter if we have Joe Namath back there if we don't execute."

There were missed throws, dropped passes, failed assignments on the line and in the running game -- and it all added up to a dismal performance on offence. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie intimated after the game that the defence has been doing its part while the offence continues to struggle.

With a long break in between games, there's plenty of time for frustration to fester, something that helped rip apart the Jets' season a year ago. Mangold insists that won't be the case this time around.

"We learned last year that pointing fingers and being disgruntled is not going to help anybody," Mangold said.

The players also support Sanchez as their leader, despite the growing public sentiment that some sort of change needs to be made to save the season.

"I believe in Mark just as much as he believes in me being a nose tackle," Sione Po'uha said.

Sanchez was 28 of 54 for 283 yards with a touchdown, but had the fumble late in the opening quarter on a sack by Nolan Carroll. He also was intercepted by Chris Clemons when he had the Jets driving while trailing 27-3 in the third quarter.

There are mistakes still being made by Sanchez that many don't expect from a fourth-year quarterback. But, he has also had to adjust to a constantly changing cast of characters on offence around him. While many teams build around their quarterbacks, particularly a first-rounder such as Sanchez, the Jets have rebuilt the personnel on offence on a regular basis.

Only two skill position players remain from Sanchez's rookie season in 2009: tight end Dustin Keller and running back Shonn Greene. While it's not the only reason for Sanchez's struggles, the frequent turnover can't have helped his development.

So, for now, this remains Sanchez's team to lead -- to a second-half surge or a second straight season out of the post-season.

"If it was one guy, I think it's easy to say we'd make that change," Ryan said. "But I think Mark gives us the best chance to win. That's how I feel. Can Tim be successful? Yeah, absolutely. We'll look at that as well. But in my opinion, Mark as the starting quarterback gives my football team the best chance to win."

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NOTES: Po'uha said he has no structural damage to his back after missing three games because of severe stiffness. He returned Sunday and played 21 snaps. ... Ryan said thinks RB-WR Joe McKnight (sprained right ankle), LB Bart Scott (hyperextended right big toe), S Eric Smith (sprained knee) and RB Bilal Powell (dislocated right shoulder) should be healthy and ready to go against Seattle.

Mark Sanchez (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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