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Rex Ryan names Mark Sanchez his starter vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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OK, Jacksonville Jaguars front office, you may now put the tarps back over all those perennially empty seats. The Tim Tebow homecoming you were hoping for isn't going to happen. Tebow, Jacksonville's favorite football son from his formative years in the area, will most likely be riding the bench as an injured player when the New York Jets face the Jags at EverBank Field.

And Mark Sanchez, who was benched for third-stringer Greg McElroy after throwing three interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, will get the nod against Jacksonville, according to several reports. Tebow, who is recovering from fractured ribs and hasn't been much of a factor all season, might not even suit up.

Head coach Rex Ryan told the team of his decision at the Jets' 8 a.m. team meeting on Wednesday.

For the Jets, the decision to keep Sanchez as the starter has far more to do with finances than performance. The team gave Sanchez, the fifth-overall selection in the 2009 NFL draft, a five-year, $58.5 million contract extension in March of this year that guarantees him $8.25 million in 2013 whether he plays or not. This season, he's completed just 55 percent of his passes, and thrown 13 interceptions to 12 touchdowns.

The Jets would like to have a better option, and it might be McElroy -- which says more about the team's overall quarterback situation than it does about McElroy's specific talents. However, it's worth mentioning that after he replaced Sanchez in the third quarter against Arizona, the 2011 seventh-round pick from Alabama completed 5 of 7 passes and threw for a touchdown. These days, that passes for high production in the Jets' quarterback pool.

The question is, how short will Sanchez's leash be? If he goes out and performs as he did against the Cardinals, and Ryan has to pull him for McElroy again, it will open an entirely new level of discussion that's already started regarding the future of the team, what future Ryan has with the Jets, and where general manager Mike Tannenbaum fits into all of this.

The 5-7 Jets are barely relevant from a playoff perspective, but as long as they keep crashing the same high-profile cars into each other, they'll continue to make news.

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