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Jets Say Struggling Sanchez Will Start at Quarterback Despite Benching

Rex Ryan tells team Sanchez will start in Jacksonville

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Still the one.

    On Tuesday, we explained why Rex Ryan needed to make a call at quarterback sooner rather than later. 

    He's done just that. The team announced Wednesday morning that Ryan has informed the players that Mark Sanchez will be the starting quarterback in Jacksonville this Sunday. 

    The move is both surprising and predictable. It's surprising because benching Sanchez had been built up to be a move of such massive proportions over the four years since he's been drafted that finally breaking the glass had the feel of passing the point of no return. 

    Between Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow, the Jets had a pair of feasible options to play quarterback in Sanchez's place and they had winnable games coming up that suggested they could eat their cake and have it too in terms of ditching an increasingly unpopular quarterback. That seemed significant to a team that is much more interested in reading public opinion than in reading opposing defenses. 

    At the same time, though, you could see this move coming from the moment that the Jets beat the Cardinals. There was no immediate decision to stick with McElroy and no attempt by the Jets to link up Sunday's awful day with all of the other awful days Sanchez has had this season. 

    For years, Ryan has maintained that Sanchez is his quarterback and a guy he believes can win as an NFL quarterback. Ryan's never been a man easily dissuaded of a point of view, especially one that's unreasonably positive and questioned by reasonable people, so the idea that he'd hitch the wagon back to Sanchez isn't out of left field. 

    Nor is doing it this week such a bad idea. The Jaguars stink, which gives Sanchez as good a chance as any to play well and resume the role that Ryan and the Jets have long given him without any consideration.

    It's also a road game, which is undoubtedly better than sending him back out there in front of a crowd that wants to eviscerate him from the opening minute. Sanchez really couldn't have asked for a better situation in terms of trying to save his job. 

    And, practically speaking, the Jets still owe Sanchez more than $8 million for next season whether he's the starter, the backup or trying out for a role on a televised soap opera. Don't laugh, he's got the experience after this season.

    Making the argument that he should keep the job just because of the money is a bigger loser than the one that holds Sanchez is going to suddenly start making huge progress in his fifth season, but so are arguments that spending that much of Woody Johnson's money doesn't or shouldn't play a role in the decision making. McElroy can be plugged in at any point (Sanchez will not have a long leash) and the team obviously isn't going to go with Tebow, so it's easy to see why Sanchez will get another chance to succeed. 

    It might turn out to be his last, but, for one more week at least, he remains the Sanchize. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.