Updated, 5:40 p.m. ET
Following Monday night's five-turnover game in the 14-10 loss at Tennessee, head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets are announcing today that second-year QB Greg McElroy will get the start in the Green & White's final home game of the season at MetLife Stadium against the Chargers. Mark Sanchez will not start a game due to non-injury for the first time in four seasons with Ryan and the Jets.
"After thinking about it, about where the team is now, I think it's best for our team and for this game," Ryan said on a late-afternoon conference call with beat reporters about his QB call. "That's what I feel in my gut. I liked what I saw from Greg against Arizona, I like what I see on the practice field. I just truly believe it's best for our team right now, and that's how I feel about it."
McElroy came on for Sanchez in the third quarter of Game 13 against Arizona, leading a 69-yard drive to a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland in his first action as an NFL signalcaller, helping to lift the Jets to their 7-6 win that day.
He has been deactivated for the 13 other games this season and spent all last season on injured reserve. He appeared in six preseason games with two starts, against Philadelphia in 2011 and this past summer, after arriving as the Jets' seventh-round choice out of Alabama in the '11 draft.
Reporters asked Ryan about all the permutations involved in this decision. He primarily said it was his call alone, it was for the Chargers game alone for now, and that he declined to speculate about any QB decisions in the recent past, saying, "My focus really isn't there, my focus is really on what's in front of us."
Sanchez — Ryan said at some point early this morning after the loss that knocked the 6-8 Jets out of the AFC playoff picture, he spoke with his '09 top draft choice and four-year starter about the move to sit him for the first time due to non-injury factors and go to McElroy.
"I never decided on the quarterback until today, who I would go with, but I let Mark know," he said. "I think anytime you do that, it's not easy, that's for sure, but in dealing with it, I told Mark that I think we need to make a change and he respected my decision."
Asked if Sanchez could return as the Jets starter for the season finale at Buffalo or further down the road, the coach said, "Really, we have two games left. I think that's where my focus is going to be. Obviously, what's past that will be determined later."
Tim Tebow — Some wanted to know why Tebow, whom the Jets traded with Denver for in March after he guided the Broncos to the playoffs in '11, wasn't called on to make Sunday's start.
"For right now I think this move, it's a move that I made that is best for our team for this game," Ryan said. "I think I have to look at what I think is best for the team and not necessarily the individual. I'll say this about Tim, and I've always said it, about the type of competitor he is. I know he wants to help this team succeed in the worst way, there's no doubt about that."
McElroy — Ryan declined to compare and contrast the reasons he felt McElroy was his best call against the pluses and minuses of Sanchez and Tebow. "I do believe it's best for our team that Greg is our quarterback," he said. "That's my opinion and I'm the guy that's making this decision. And every decision I make is based on what I believe is in the best interests of our team."
Ryan added that whether he'll have Sanchez or Tebow or both active for the Chargers game behind McElroy will be determined as this week proceeds.
Ryan deflected questions about his and his quarterback's futures following the extreme disappointment of the Titans game.
"People can speculate anything they want," he said. "Obviously, as a football team we're 6-8 and nobody's happy about that. Ultimately, I'm the man accountable for this. I understand that. But it's never about one person, 'it's this guys fault,' 'this is a good situation or a bad situation.' This is a bottom-line business and right now we're 6-8."