On Tuesday afternoon, Rex Ryan announced that Greg McElroy will get the start for the New York Jets next week against the San Diego Chargers.
It wasn’t surprising that Mark Sanchez will sit next week, given his recent performance. The Jets are out of playoff contention, and Sanchez performance has been abysmal. He has accounted for 50 turnovers in the last two seasons, tops in the NFL. This season, he has completed under 55 percent of his passes with 13 TDs and 17 INTs, and is 33rd in the NFL in passer efficiency.
What is surprising is that, after bringing in Tim Tebow as the backup, the Jets have elected to skip over Tebow and go to McElroy, who was the third string quarterback and only active for one game this season so far. Ironically, it mirrors Tebow’s assent last season in Denver from third string to starter.
Ryan was asked about skipping over Tebow in the conference call to announce the change. “I can answer this question a million ways — frontward, backward, sideways, anything else,” Ryan said. “It’s my decision and I based it on a gut feeling or whatever. Everything it comes down to is, I believe it’s the best decision for our team. That’s the only factor that goes into these decisions.”
Further pushed on the Tebow question, Ryan said, “I’d rather not look at what’s behind me, I’d rather look what’s in front of me.”
“I’m going to put Greg out there. In my opinion, it’s best for our team.” Hardly a ringing endorsement, but he can hardly do much worse than Sanchez has this season. And McElroy does have a good pedigree, and will jump at the chance to earn a starting job over the next two games.
McElroy was a seventh round draft pick in the 2011 draft, out of Alabama. His college numbers were solid, although not the gaudy numbers of graduates of more pass-happy schools. He completed a little over 60 percent of his passes his junior year, and over 70 percent his senior year, and totaled 39 TDs to 10 INTs over his collegiate career.
He led the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 2009, and was named MVP of the SEC Championship Game win that set up the BCS title game against Texas. While he was a non-factor in the championship game, it was later revealed that he played with cracked ribs from the SEC game. Plus, when you have a backfield with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, two first round NFL draft picks, relying on the ground game isn’t a bad way to go.
Ultimately, McElroy is a huge unknown. He played well in the one game he got into this season, coming off the bench against Arizona two weeks ago to lead the Jets to their only touchdown in a 7-6 victory after Sanchez was benched for performance reason. McElroy finished that game 5 of 7 for 29 yards and 1 TD (Sanchez had been 10 of 21 for 97 yards with 3 INTs).
Will McElroy be the answer? He has accomplished one thing already. He has given Jets fans a reason to hope.
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