Rex Ryan’s decision to play Mark Sanchez during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s preseason game has raised eyebrows across the country and brought into question the coach’s creditability with the New York Jets’ fan base. Sanchez was injured when Giants’ defensive tackle Marvin Austin slammed the Jets’ quarterback to the turf; ending his night with what the team classified as a ‘sore right shoulder’.
After heading to the sidelines, No. 6 attempted to play pitch and catch before departing for the X-ray room where he tested negative for any breaks or fractures. With Sanchez listed as day-to-day, the fifth-year signal-caller isn’t questioning Ryan’s decision to insert him into what amounted to a meaningless game.
“I’m not here to second-guess the coaches,” Sanchez stated. “If they call you to play, you better be ready to play, and I was. So, I warmed up, went in, played, and tried to win.”
The Jets would go on to win the game 24-21 in overtime thanks to fourth-stringer Matt Simms, not Sanchez. Ryan’s team may have won the battle, but they could end up losing the war if Sanchez is out of the lineup for an extended period of time. Under new general manager John Idzik the Jets have been mum on the injury front and denied to provide any further update on Sanchez’s shoulder.
After rookie Geno Smith tossed three first half interceptions and stepped out of bounds for a safety early on in the fourth quarter, it appeared the starting quarterback battle had come to an abrupt and grinding halt. With Sanchez likely cemented as the opening day starter, Ryan tried to put the cherry on his sundae by affording his hand-picked gunslinger the opportunity to lead his team on a late comeback drive. Instead everything backfired; much to Ryan’s dismay.
“Do I regret that he got injured?,” posed Ryan. “Of course. But no, again, I’m not going to say anything more about it because I think I’ve covered it already. “
In his postgame press conference Ryan caught flack from reporters for his questionable coaching call, but refused to acknowledge that he made a mistake in light of the injury.
“From my standpoint, I have to move forward," said Ryan on Monday to reporters. “We have to move forward. That’s where we’re at. What’s happened in the past, you can’t do anything about right now. You’ve got to focus on the present and the future and that’s where we are right now.”
While Ryan contends that his coaching staff hasn’t closed the book on the starting quarterback decision, the Jets will host the Philadelphia Eagles in their final dress rehearsal for the regular season on Thursday night. The Jets’ head man remained non-committal on naming the team’s 2013 opening day starter.
“Well, again, there’s still one more preseason game to be played and I’m not going to put myself or anybody in a box (and) say, ‘Well, specifically it’s going to be this or this based on Mark’s injury, based on whatever, Geno’s ankle,’ whatever it is,” Ryan said. “That’s why we’ll let it play out and when we’re ready to name the starter, we will. “