|Ryan is going all in on Sanchez and vows to fix New York's locker room. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
The New York Jets, fresh off a disappointing 8-8 season, continue to make news in an offseason that started with an admission from head coach Rex Ryan that he didn't have a pulse on his team, which was clearly evident in Week 17 when team captain Santonio Holmes went renegade on his quarterback before getting benched.
In the nearly four weeks since Ryan's end-of-year press conference, third-string quarterback Greg McElroy went on radio and referred to the Jets locker room as "not a fun place," anonymous teammates called Mark Sanchez "lazy," former teammate Kris Jenkins also took some shots at Sanchez (that led to Ryan, center Nick Mangold and owner Woody Johnson all coming to Sanchez's defense), running back LaDainian Tomlinson suggested that the wide receivers are responsible for "Sanchez is lazy" remarks to the media, and cornerback Darrelle Revis called the team issues "real deep" before noting that Ryan had no idea how bad things really were.
Ryan spoke publicly about all the problems confronting an organization he guaranteed would win the Super Bowl heading into the season.
“Our locker room wasn’t as close as it’s been in the past, obviously, but one thing we know is we’re going to fix it,” Ryan said in an interview with ESPN (via ProFootballTalk.com). “We might have been knocked down this year but we’re not knocked out. We’re going to be swinging, and there’s no doubt about it. But I can’t wait. It’s about moving forward, put that stuff behind us. But there’s things we’re going to learn from. This past season, 8-8 clearly is not good enough. We did have some issues where, obviously, I never did a good enough job of recognizing it and fixing it, but we’re fixing it right now. There’s no doubt about that.”
One of those issues, obviously, concerns the Jets' current quarterback. While Ryan supports Sanchez, he has to improve. We can blame some of his struggles on offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Holmes or Plaxico Burress, but the former is gone to St. Louis and the latter were brought in by Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. At some point, the organization has to either see progress from their franchise quarterback or move on without him. Some of Sanchez's critics have said that they'd like to see Peyton Manning in New York next year.
“I can’t talk about Peyton Manning," Ryan said. "He’s on some other team right now. But Mark Sanchez is the future of the Jets. He’s a great quarterback and again, I can’t wait to get it going. You look at it: 4-2 in the postseason, 28-20 in the regular season over the three years that Mark and I have been together and we’re going to be together a long time.”
Credit to Ryan for standing up for his players but if the 2012 season looks anything like 2011, both he and Sanchez could be looking for work.
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