Jets coach Rex Ryan says that he — not Tim Tebow, not the team’s medical staff — made the decision to sideline Tebow on Thursday night because of Tebow’s broken ribs.
According to Ryan, Tebow wanted to play and team doctors cleared him to play, but Ryan didn’t want to play Tebow unless starter Mark Sanchez had gone down with an injury.
“I know Tim was cleared to play that game,” Ryan said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “He wanted to play. . . . Obviously, if he was not cleared to play or if they thought he was in serious jeopardy to himself, then he never would have been activated. He never would have been cleared to play. Tim was cleared to play. He wanted to play. . . . People have played with cracked ribs. It was told to me that he could play. But I wasn’t going to play him unless it was an absolute emergency.”
But if Ryan wanted to protect Tebow, why not make him inactive and elevate third-string quarterback Greg McElroy to second string? Ryan says it’s because the Patriots game was so important that he wanted to have Tebow available.
“That’s something that I considered,” Ryan said. “But like I said, [Tebow was] cleared to play. And you’re facing an opponent – it’s obviously the biggest game of the year. And Tim’s like ‘Hey I can play. I want to play.’ And he’s cleared to play. When you factor those things in, it’s like Hey, if we absolutely 100 percent had to have him, then I would have played him.”
Tebow suffered the injury two weeks ago against the Seahawks and played through it last week against the Rams before the broken ribs were diagnosed, so Ryan is right that Tebow could have played through it again on Thursday night if the Jets had needed him. As it turned out, the Jets needed a lot more than just Tebow in a game in which they were humiliated by the Patriots.