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Jets' Coach Rex Ryan Sticks By His Man: Mark Sanchez Will Start Sunday

If there is one decision football fans have argued over intensely over the past few months is whether embattled Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez should be allowed to start another game.

During his previous outing, Rex Ryan, the team's coach, pulled him late in the third quarter, after the home crowd booed him mercilessly after a disasterous performance in which he completed 10 of 21 passes for 97 yards.

Of course, this kind of season was almost expected from the outset. As we told you back in March, the Jets acquired Tim Tebow before the beginning of the season and this put Sanchez in an odd situation. Many said it was a full frontal assault on the 2009 first-round draft pick's leadership.

But this story gets even more juicy. Right now, Tebow is injured, so, as the Los Angeles Times' Chuck Schilken explains, the Jets fans were cheering for third-stringer Greg McElroy to be put into the game.

"The second-year pro went on to lead the Jets on their only touchdown drive of the day for a 7-6 victory," the Times reports.

Today, however, Ryan announced that Sanchez would start on Sunday.

ESPN explains:

"As he explained his decision, Ryan stayed in the short term, claiming it was based on what gives them the best chance to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars — hardly an overwhelming vote of confidence for Sanchez, who was benched Sunday for the first time in his career.

"Ryan insisted that Sanchez's contract — an $8.25 million guarantee in 2013 — had 'absolutely zero' impact on his decision. The coach admitted there was a "difference of opinion" within the organization, but he said owner Woody Johnson was on board. There was speculation that Johnson preferred McElroy.

"'I wanted to get the pulse from a lot of different people,' said Ryan, who broke the news to the three quarterbacks in an early-morning meeting. 'At the end of the day, I was going to do what Woody Johnson hired me to do, and that's make the appropriate decisions to help this football team win.'"

USA Today's reading of the Ryan press conference was more stark. Essentially, they report, Ryan told Sanchez not to "screw up," and that he would be on a short leash.

The Jets (5-7) play the Jaguars (2-10) on Sunday. They play in Jacksonville far away from the booing fans.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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