Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rex Ryan: 'Mark Sanchez is not dead'

Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez have been through a lot together and the head coach has mostly talked about his quarterback in the present tense. On Wednesday, Ryan found himself awkwardly discussing the injured Sanchez's time with the Jets in past tense but made it clear that Sanchez's quarterbacking career isn't over — wherever it is.

“We’re acting like he’s dead. Mark Sanchez is not dead,” Ryan said. “Sanchez is going to be 100% healthy, guys. It’s not like his career’s over.”

Sanchez, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery Tuesday, is still under contract with the Jets for three more years. But it's almost inevitable that he will be a former Jet before a $2 million roster bonus is due next March.

Ryan has been heavily criticized — though not by Sanchez, at least not publicly — for his decision to insert him into the fourth quarter of the Jets' third preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 24. Playing behind a less-than-NFL quality offensive line, Sanchez suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder after getting hit by Giants lineman Marvin Austin.

Sanchez's tenure with Jets, most likely, is over and that is what made Wednesday pretty hard for Ryan, who arrived in New York the same time Sanchez did.

The 2013 Sanchez saga began with a quarterback competition, took a major turn with a baffling injury in a meaningless preseason game and ended with shoulder surgery for the QB on Tuesday. With a $13.1 million cap charge looming for the 2014 season, Sanchez is ripe for release in the upcoming offseason.

“I don’t want to get into that,” Ryan said when asked if Sanchez would ever play for the Jets again. “Whether he’s here or whatever . . . our thing is doing what’s best for Mark, which would be to get him healthy.”

Sanchez and Ryan will forever be linked for their first four seasons together. Back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in the first two years will be something nice to look back upon. Although the comical Butt Fumble and the senseless shoulder injury might end up being the duo's legacy.

Ryan did admit the team may have made a mistake with Sanchez. Not the decision to put him in the preseason game; Ryan has defended that since the night it happened.

No, Ryan said it was fair to say the Jets may have erred by using their one injured reserve/designated to return spot on Sanchez, because he is clearly not returning this year.

"We thought he could come back,'' Ryan said. "We were hoping that he could come back. Certainly knew that this surgery might be a possibility . . . Unfortunately, our doctors said it's probably best if he has the surgery, so that's what we did. But he was doing everything he could to get back out there.''

Coaches and players relationships may fade. But at least Ryan will always have his wife's Sanchez tattoo to gaze upon. 

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