He has four road playoff wins, though, and played well in leading the Jets to the AFC championship game in consecutive seasons. Ryan believes that is the real Sanchez, not the one struggling to connect with receivers. Sanchez has also been playing without his favorite target, tight end Dustin Keller, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury for weeks. Top receiver Santonio Holmes is also gone for the season after seriously injuring his left foot against the 49ers.
"I just think it's everybody's job — we want to see him do well," Ryan said. "The receivers have to get open and Sanchez, I think, is accurate enough to put the ball where he needs to. And if that means elevating our play, than I think we can do that. I think it's on everybody, though."
But, it's Sanchez who is taking the brunt of the criticism — and a lot of it, justifiably so. The fact that Tebow is waiting in the wings and everyone remembers what he was able to do last season in Denver has just increased the heat on what has become a bubbling quarterback controversy.
"You've got to have that thick skin because not everybody's going to write beautiful things about you," Ryan said. "If you have a poor game, it's going to be right there in front. ... I think it takes a special guy to be a quarterback in this market, and I think Mark has that."
Sanchez agrees, of course, and this kind of scrutiny is nothing new for him.
"It's just another opportunity," he said. "Nobody expects it to work, nobody expects it to go right, nobody expects us to win. That's fine: I've been in situations like that before. I'm confident I can handle it, and there's only one way in my mind to go about it, and that's attack it, get after it, give it 100 percent and never want to look back and say I wish I would've done that."
Ryan believes the Jets have the perfect quarterback situation, not a potentially explosive one in large part because of Tebow's athletic ability.
"He's not a guy that says, 'I'm not going to do this. I only want to do this,'" Ryan said. "If you said, 'I need you to line up and play defensive tackle,' Tim would say, 'No problem. Tell me where to line up. Let's go.'"
He also believes in Tebow's abilities as a quarterback, convinced that he belongs in the NFL at that position, no matter what the many naysayers think.
"No question I think he's a good quarterback," Ryan said. "You can't bluff your way in this league and have the success that he's had. ... Mark is our starting quarterback. But what's intriguing about having Tim is that if something were to happen to Mark, you'd feel good that you have a quarterback that has proven that he can win in the National Football League."
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