Rex Ryan doesn’t mind his New York Jets players saying what’s on their minds. Just as long as they put their names to their comments.
An angry Ryan addressed his team Wednesday for some anonymous quotes by players and members of the organization ripping backup quarterback Tim Tebow in a newspaper report.
“If you’re not going to put your name to it, I think that’s about as cowardly of a thing there is,” Ryan said. “I don’t want to get into specifics of what I said, but I did address it with our football team. If you’re searching for things to try to drive a wedge through the team, my thing is, I believe in this team.
“I believe this team is (together), will continue to be and maybe even become tighter. I’m confident that will be the case.”
The Jets (3-6) have lost three straight and five of their past six, leading some people to suggest that Tebow should replace Mark Sanchez as the starter.
Even Jets running back Shonn Greene said it might be Tebow time in New York. Tebow went 8-5 as the Denver Broncos’ starter last season, including a victory over the Jets and a playoff win over Pittsburgh.
“Something’s got to change,” Greene told Yahoo! Sports. “You feel bad for Mark, but at the same time you want to win games.”
A report in the Daily News on Wednesday, however, said more than a dozen players and members of the Jets organization believe there’s no chance Tebow could overtake Sanchez for the starting job – with one saying of the backup: “He’s terrible.”
“We never say that it always has to be a bed of roses,” said Ryan, who encourages his players and coaches to “be yourself” in interviews. “But again, put your name to it. I think people would respect you a lot more for it.”
The story drew so much attention that not a single question about the Jets’ next opponent, the St. Louis Rams, was asked during Ryan’s 22-minute news conference.
Tebow has remained unflappable all season despite constant questions about his role and how he’s used by the Jets, but he acknowledged this was a “unique” situation in his career and there was “some frustration and I guess some sadness” after hearing about the story.
“This is something I can’t control,” Tebow said, adding that the locker room is filled with “a bunch of awesome dudes.”
“I can control my attitude, my effort and my work ethic,” he added. “Those are things that will never change based on what anybody says.”
Sanchez, who has taken his share of criticism during his nearly four seasons in New York, supported his teammate.
“I’ve been in those shoes,” he said. “I feel for Tim. You wake up the next day and you keep playing.”
Left guard Matt Slauson was one player whose name was used in the report, saying that “it’s not even close” in terms of who the Jets’ best quarterback is.
Tebow added that he has been knocked all his life on the football field, constantly told by others what he can’t do and using it to try to motivate himself.
“I always find the good and the positive in every situation,” Tebow said, “and the positive of this is to go and work a little harder and build better relationships with your teammates.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Ravens because of what he called a dislocated rib. Byron Leftwich will start for the Steelers. Roethlisberger also sprained his right shoulder Monday against the Chiefs, but doctors are more concerned about the rib, which could puncture his aorta if jostled around. … 49ers quarterback Alex Smith went through non-contact work in practice but said it’s too early to guess whether he will return from a concussion in time to start against the Bears on Monday. … Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins was fined $30,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit that gave Bears quarterback Jay Cutler a concussion. Dobbins said he plans to appeal. … Rookie quarterback Nick Foles practiced with the Eagles’ first-string offense, but starter Michael Vick (concussion) has not been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Redskins. … Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay will miss his second straight game with a neck injury after being ruled out of tonight’s game against the Dolphins.