From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Mark Sanchez is no longer the New York Jets' franchise quarterback.He might not even be the backup.Rex Ryan decided to bench Sanchez on Tuesday in favor of Greg McElroy after the fourth-year quarterback had another miserable performance in a 14-10 loss at Tennessee on Monday night that eliminated New York from playoff contention."I think it's best for our team, and for this game," Ryan said during a conference call.So, it'll be McElroy under center for his first NFL start when the Jets (6-8) play the San Diego Chargers at home Sunday. Ryan hasn't decided whether Sanchez or Tim Tebow -- listed as the No. 2 quarterback -- will be the backup.While Sanchez blew the second chance Ryan gave him a few weeks ago, Tebow was leapfrogged by a third-stringer, fueling speculation that the team has little confidence in him as a quarterback."I have to look at what I think is the best for the team and not necessarily the individual," Ryan said. "I'll say this about Tim and I've always said it: I know he wants to help this team be successful in the worst way and there's no doubt about that."Sanchez threw four interceptions Monday night and wasn't able to handle a low snap with the game on the line, ending the Jets' hopes to get back into the postseason.Things got worse after the game for Sanchez, who received a series of death threats from one disgruntled fan on Twitter. League spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL's security staff was aware of the man's threats and was working with the Jets to assist on the matter. The team declined comment through a spokesman.Ryan said after the loss that he wasn't ready to decide who would start against the Chargers, but told Sanchez he would be making a change at quarterback by going with either McElroy or Tebow."He respected my decision," Ryan said. "That's not easy, that's for sure."After talking to his staff and members of the organization Tuesday, Ryan chose McElroy."This is my opinion, and I do believe that it's best for our team that Greg is our quarterback," Ryan insisted. "I'm the guy that's making this decision. Every decision I make is based on what I believe is the best decision for the team."But Ryan was vague in his answers to why he selected McElroy above Tebow, choosing after being asked several times to not go into detail about what specifically factored into the decision."I can answer this question a million ways, frontward, backward, sideways, anything else," Ryan said. "It's my decision and I based it on a gut feeling or whatever."McElroy, a seventh-round pick last year out of Alabama, helped lead the Jets to a 7-6 win over Arizona on Dec. 2 when Ryan pulled Sanchez from that game late in the third quarter. McElroy had modest numbers -- 5 of 7 for 29 yards -- but threw for the only touchdown of the game, and nearly led another scoring drive as the Jets ran out the clock.Ryan decided to stick with Sanchez after that game, saying that the one-time face of the franchise gave the Jets their best chance at winning as they remained in the playoff hunt.But Sanchez struggled in a 17-10 win over Jacksonville and again even more in the loss to Tennessee. McElroy, who gave the Jets a huge spark in his first NFL action, was inactive for both games. That hurt New York on Monday night when Ryan was unable to turn to McElroy since he was not in uniform for the game. Instead, Ryan went to Tebow for one series -- which had been part of the game plan -- but it was unproductive and Sanchez came back in for the next offensive possession.Sanchez leads the league with 24 turnovers, including 17 interceptions, and has turned the ball over 50 times since the start of last season. His future with the team is uncertain because he signed a contract extension with New York in March that included 8.25 million in guaranteed money for next season.Ryan would not commit to Sanchez beyond this season, and wouldn't discuss what the depth chart will look like."We have two games left and that's where my focus is going to be," he said. "What's past that will be determined later."Sanchez was regularly booed during home games this season, falling out of favor with the fans who were excited when the Jets traded up to take him with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft."Has he had better days than (Monday night)? Absolutely," Ryan said.There certainly were some good moments for the former Southern California star, particularly in helping lead New York to the AFC championship game in each of his first two seasons, but he failed to take the next step in his development.While his frequent mistakes in reading defenses and miscalculating throws are a huge reason for his struggles, Sanchez also wasn't helped by a constantly changing cast around him. Several of the team's top offensive players -- Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Plaxico Burress, Alan Faneca and Damien Woody -- have all been released, traded or allowed to become free agents since Sanchez's rookie season. He is also working with his second offensive coordinator in Tony Sparano after an up-and-down three seasons with Brian Schottenheimer.Tebow, acquired from Denver in March, has had a minor role in the offense after being expected to play a major part. He is recovering from two broken ribs that sidelined him for three games, but returned Monday night and had little impact. It would seem unlikely that Tebow, who helped lead the Broncos to the playoffs last season, will be back next season.When Tebow arrived in New York, he often said he was "excited to be a Jet," but there's little doubt that he no longer feels that way. He has done his best to hide his frustration throughout the season, especially when the wildcat-style offense was talked up by Ryan and Sparano as a highlight of the offense.Tebow has instead just been a spare part on an offense that ranks 30th in the NFL. He is 6 of 8 passing for 39 yards, and has run 32 times for 102 yards -- playing a more significant role as the personal punt protector on special teams."People can speculate anything they want," Ryan said. Obviously, as a football team, we're 6-8 and nobody's happy about that and ultimately, I'm the one accountable."
High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned.
Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights.
DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10
Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris
St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors
Friday's Top 25 Games
No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9
No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14
No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein
No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0
No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14
No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19
No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7
No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21
No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14
No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10
No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8
No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14
No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14
No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7
No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0
Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34
Saturday's Top 25 Games
No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice
No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West
Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.
Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.
Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.
“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.
The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.
The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.
All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.
Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.
“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.
“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”
Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.
The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?
During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?
Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?
The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.
“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.
“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.
“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”
Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.