The 2012 season for the New York Jets has been played out amidst a media storm, largely due to the presence of media lightning rod Tim Tebow. For the most part, Jets players have kept their lips tightly shut, with linebacker Bart Scott going so far as to boycott the media. But some of the flood gates broke open this week.
The first several players came out in defense of starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to counter the criticism in the media. As reported by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets resoundingly stand behind Sanchez and the claim that he is at least not as bad as their other options.
Said left guard Matt Slauson regarding the backup quarterback situation:
It’s not even close. All the other quarterbacks know it. I have all the confidence in Mark. We don’t really have a choice. ... We have Greg ... and we have an athlete.
Slauson was referring to third-string quarterback Greg McElroy. McElroy—who has not yet played a snap in the NFL—is a young and somewhat talented quarterback who is believed by many to be the second-best quarterback on the team. By calling Tebow only an athlete, Slauson is claming what many outside of the team have claimed, which is that Tebow is not in line at all for the quarterback job.
According to an anonymous source—referred to as a "prominent member of the organization" by Mehta, there is no internal quarterback controversy:
It would take extreme poor play...something where it was just ridiculous. It would take Mark to totally just **** the bed and become unglued [before there was a quarterback change].
While the general sentiment was support for Sanchez, much of it came in the form of tough criticism of Tebow. One anonymous player said of Tebow, simply, "He’s terrible."
Did I address it? I absolutely addressed it. Because I think it’s a cowardly thing. If you’re not going to put your name to it, I think that’s about as cowardly of a thing as there is. I even mentioned that. I said, look, if, well I don’t want to get into specifics of what I said. But I did address it with our football team. I absolutely did.
Ryan—a staunch supporter of Sanchez—came out in favor of Slauson's comments, saying that open statements of support are fine compared to anonymous criticism. Said Ryan:
I have no problem with Matt Slauson, because he put his name on it. I don’t agree with everything Matt said. I agree with the fact that we have a starting quarterback. And we’re confident in, and Matt’s obviously confident in, Mark Sanchez.
This has been an emotional week for Ryan so far. After the 28-7 loss in Seattle on Sunday, Ryan implored his players (according to Brian Bassett of TheJetsBlog.com), "When are you guys going to believe?"
From a football standpoint, it is clear that Sanchez is the starter for this season. The coach, the organization and the players agree that Sanchez is the lesser of two (or three) evils for the moment.
However, the noise is not likely to die down anytime soon. When it comes to the draft and the offseason, a lot of possibilities remain. McElroy could finally get his shot and the Jets could draft a new quarterback altogether.
The flood gates are open, so more is sure to follow.