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Rex Makes the Call: It's Mark over Kellen


Rex Ryan just announced to reporters following today's practice that he's going with rookie Mark Sanchez over veteran Kellen Clemens as his starting quarterback for the season opener at Houston on Sept. 13.

"I've been around the game a long time, and I feel the best move for our franchise and for our team is to go with Mark as our quarterback," Ryan said. "It's not a slight to Kellen Clemens at all. I think we can win with Kellen also.

"But right now I think Mark gives us the best opportunity to win and that's what I owe this franchise and that's why I made this decision."

The first-year head coach declined to compare the pluses and minuses of the two QBs but he did talk about what he likes in Sanchez.

"I think he's got everything, all the things you look for," Ryan said. Arm strength? "Clearly Sanchez has that. He's bigger than you think, he's not a small guy. ... I think he's got a good grasp of our system and I think that'll only get better. I think he's got good movement skills. He has the talent to be an outstanding quarterback. And I also love his mental makeup.

"We'll see if this is the right decision going forward, but I think it is. ... I just think if we run the ball the way I think we can run the ball and if we play defense the way I think we can play defense, we can be successful."

Many will point to the success of Ryan's Ravens team of last season, which used the powerful defense he coordinated plus a 592-carry running game plus rookie QB Joe Flacco to venture all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Others will say that Flacco got off to a so-so start as the emergency starter. Ryan's perspective?

"Joe Flacco's success was based not just on himself, and Mark Sanchez is going to be successful here not just based on his physical ability to play the position of quarterback," Rex said. "He's going to be successful because he's got great teammates around him. That's what you're going to see here.

"The great thing is we do play for real in September. I know who's going to be accountable — that's me. I'll be accountable for everything that goes on with this organization, win, lose or draw. That should come on my shoulders, and it will. I've got broad shoulders. I can take it.

"But I also have a vision for this football team, and I've been around enough to know what it looks like. This is a good football team. We have a good football team here. We'll be able to prove it come September. That's the beauty of this. So all the questions and that kind of stuff will get answered in September."

Ryan declined to go into detail about how he broke the news to his two QBs, fighting for the starting job since the Jets traded up with Cleveland to take Sanchez with the fifth pick of the draft, other than to say, "I did the majority of the talking in there. I don't want to go into the specifics of the discussion. If Mark and Kellen want to, I'd rather it come from them instead of from me."

Sanchez and Clemens will be speaking to reporters here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center shortly and we'll have stories for you later this afternoon.

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