Rex Ryan sticks with Mark Sanchez

Updated: December 13, 2010, 9:51 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, mired in a three-game slump, was almost pulled from Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins at the New Meadowland Stadium.

Coach Rex Ryan dropped the bombshell after the game, admitting he considered benching Sanchez late in the third quarter. That it crossed Ryan's mind in a one-possession game -- the Jets trailed, 10-3 -- speaks to his level of frustration with the offense.

"I considered it, but when you look at it, I think he gives us the best chance to win," Ryan said, adding, "I thought about it and I was like, 'Nah, it's not the kid's fault.' He's not the only one to blame here. If I thought that was the case, I would've yanked him."

The second-year quarterback never has been pulled from a game. The only other time that Ryan considered a change was last season, when Sanchez threw five interceptions in a home loss to the Buffalo Bills.

This time, Sanchez committed two first-quarter turnovers (an interception and fumble), handing the Dolphins a 10-0 lead.

Sanchez completed a season-low 38.6 percent of his passes (17-for-44) for 216 yards. His passer rating was 45.3. In the last three games, his rating is 46.8. The Jets' talented offense has gone two straight games without a touchdown.

As much as he struggled Sunday, Sanchez was undermined by at least six dropped passes (including a sure touchdown by Santonio Holmes) and poor pass protection. He was sacked six times. Evidently, Ryan had little confidence that backup Mark Brunell, in moth balls for two seasons, could do a better job.

"I'm not worried about getting pulled or anything, but he's got to make those decisions," Sanchez said of Ryan. "I'm glad he left me in. I think he feels like I give us the best chance to win and that's why I'm playing. When I play like I do today, though, I'm sure it's frustrating to watch, as frustrating as it is to play like that."

Against Miami, Ryan insisted the problems were spread throughout the offense. His players agreed.

"This one definitely is not just Mark," said receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who had five receptions for 69 yards but also had a key drop. "We had some opportunities to make plays for him and we just didn't do it. For whatever reason, we just started pressing a little bit, and when you press, you lose focus. Hey, we just have to make sure we get this thing fixed fast."

Sanchez is sure that things will turn around, but with trips to Pittsburgh and Chicago ahead, the challenges are mounting.

"I don't know how many negative words you can use to describe it," he said. "We're 9-4 and we're still right there. We're in better shape than last year and we made the playoffs and went all the way to the AFC Championship Game.

"This team is positive and I now how they'll respond. It will be a good test for me early in my career."

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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