What to Look for as Greg McElroy Takes over New York Jets' Starting QB Gig

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What to Look for as Greg McElroy Takes over New York Jets' Starting QB Gig

If Rex Ryan truly had no idea who was going to be the starting quarterback against the San Diego Chargers when he took the podium following Mark Sanchez's five-turnover derp-fest, it sure didn't take him long to weigh his options.

There was no way Sanchez could play for the Jets again, and the announcement was made less than 16 hours after the conclusion of the game.

McElroy's journey has been long and turbulent, beginning most prominently at the end of the 2011 season, when he publicly criticized the character of the Jets locker room. He was impressive in limited action against the Cardinals in Week 13 and will get a second crack at an NFL defense on Sunday, despite having been inactive for the past two games.

Here's what to look for in McElroy's first start.

 

Ball Security

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

It was item No. 1 on Rex Ryan's agenda when he announced Sanchez would be the starter against the Jaguars.

"The thing Mark has to do a better job of is protect the ball and know when it's OK to take chances and know when you shouldn't," he said at the time.

Sanchez currently leads the NFL in turnovers over the past two years, giving it up to the opponent a whopping 50 times. McElroy can't possibly be that bad, right?

The Chargers have forced 25 turnovers this season (12 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries), which doesn't look as good when you realize 10 of them came in two games against the Chiefs, one of only two teams that turn it over more than the Jets do.

Four interceptions and a fumble sealed Sanchez's fate as the starting quarterback, but will the leash be as long for McElroy? It's hard to believe so, considering the Jets have over $12 million in quarterbacks on the bench for Sunday's game, waiting to be called on.

 

Ground and Pound?

The Jets love to run the football as it is; couple that with an inexperienced quarterback, and it wouldn't shock me to see them attempt 40 or more rushes, depending on the score.

Against the Chargers, though, that may not work. Their defense is good against the run (fifth in the league in allowing 3.8 YPA, seventh in total rushing yards with 1,358 against them), so the Chargers may be able to force the ball into McElroy's hands.

That being said, the Jets' season is just about done; why not let the young quarterback sling it and at least see what they have in him? McElroy only threw seven passes against the Cardinals, while the Jets gave the workload to their running backs.

 

Tebow Time?

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Yes, it has to be mentioned.

The Jets proved they're willing to make a change at quarterback once, and as mentioned above, multiple turnovers could mitigate another change. The Jets aren't financially invested in McElroy like they are in Sanchez and Tim Tebow.

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That being said, Tebow played an entire offensive series for the Jets on Monday Night Football, and perhaps even more snaps are in order for Tebow against the Chargers.

There's really no logic or reasoning to my hypothesis, but the Jets offense defies logic and reasoning by nature, so why not?

Truth be told, I would understand if the Jets were scared to play Tebow.

Imagine if he comes in and plays well; the national media fervor for him as the starter for 2013 would be unfathomable. 

From there, the only way out from under the weight of the media pressure is an elite quarterback becoming available in free agency, but that would entail the Jets actually having enough cap space to go after one.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.

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