FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — It hasn't turned to blows, but New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said that quarterback Mark Sanchez isn't talking to him after snaps were taken away from the three-year starter on Tuesday. Veteran back-up Mark Brunell received less than a handful of plays with the first team, but Ryan observed that was enough to send Sanchez into a snit.
Brunell estimated that he "got four plays out of the 40 we ran" during Tuesday's practice.
According to Ryan, it was the first time this season that Brunell has been mixed in with the starters, causing the Jets head coach to say that Sanchez "is not happy with me."
Ryan judged this displeasure "By his body language. He hasn't talked to me, for real. He has not said one word." When told about those comments, Sanchez laughed it off.
"No not at all, at least not on purpose," Sanchez said.
The lack of communication between head coach and starting quarterback wasn't apparent to the rest of the team. Brunell said he didn't notice a rift or anything out of the ordinary from practice, other than he got snaps with the first team. He estimated that the Jets give "99 percent" of their first-team snaps to the starting quarterback, but as for a brewing issue between Ryan and Sanchez, he sensed none of that.
"I know they talk a lot but like I said, I wasn't aware that was for motivation or anything like that. They have a pretty cool bond that I think is pretty special -- one that's going to be around for a long time," Brunell said. "I can appreciate that. Last time they did it, I think Mark came out against the Steelers if I'm not mistaken and played lights out."
The "last time" reference by Brunell refers to the Jets having resorted to this route before as Ryan pulled a similar stunt, a bit of gamesmanship around this time last year. Following a Week 14 loss to Miami where Sanchez completed just 38 percent of his passes, Brunell received some snaps with the first team in practice the following week. In response, Sanchez put together a complete performance in Pittsburgh with an effective 19-29 for 170 yards in a surprising win that helped set the tone for the rest of the season.
He admitted this past summer to GQ Magazine that he "wanted to fight" Ryan after Brunell's snaps last fall, causing the Jets head coach to inexplicably reference that moment Tuesday during his press conference.
"If he wants to beat me up, that's fine, as long as we have the same success coming out of it because he was playing great," Ryan said.
The Jets have lost two in a row and while Sanchez hasn't been horrid, he has come under fire.
"I think that's what he's using it for," Sanchez said.
"Mark has played well, but do I want to get the one guy a snap? Absolutely, and I think it does send a message that, hey, look, every single player, no matter how good, Darrelle Revis doesn't take every snap in practice a lot of times," Ryan said.
"You know me, if I think something is working, we'll go with it. If we played better when we did it last year, then I will do that. If it's to wear [AFL New York] Titans stuff, then I'll do it."
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer