Nationals

Still Jets' starter, Sanchez out to prove himself

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Still Jets' starter, Sanchez out to prove himself

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Mark Sanchez spent a few days after his miserable performance wondering what was next.

The New York Jets quarterback had been benched, his coach tired of his mistakes, and there was no guarantee Rex Ryan would give him his job back anytime soon.

``I knew at some point before I died, I'd start at quarterback again,'' Sanchez said Wednesday. ``I'm glad it's this week.''

Ryan gathered his three quarterbacks Wednesday morning and told them he made up his mind: He's sticking with Sanchez.

For this week, at least.

Ryan weighed his options after pulling Sanchez for Greg McElroy last Sunday against Arizona, talking to many people within the organization before settling on his quarterback.

``I have to get this decision right,'' Ryan said, ``and I believe I have.''

So it will be Sanchez and not McElroy or Tim Tebow on Sunday when the Jets take on the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

``I'm pleased with coach's decision,'' Sanchez said. ``Now it's my job to go make him right.''

Sanchez was removed late in the third quarter against Arizona, and McElroy came in and led the Jets to the only touchdown of the game on his first NFL drive, helping New York to a 7-6 victory. Sanchez was 10 of 21 for 97 and three interceptions, while McElroy was 5 of 7 for 29 yards and the score, and appeared to spark the team.

Including, the Jets hope, Sanchez.

``When I looked at everything, the biggest thing I kept coming back to is, who gives us the best opportunity to win?'' Ryan said. ``When I kept coming back to that, I believe the correct answer was Mark Sanchez.''

It was perhaps the biggest call in Ryan's nearly four years as coach, considering the sensitivity of the situation and the possible ramifications. He acknowledged there were differing opinions among those he spoke to, but said he received no pressure from owner Woody Johnson and added that Johnson was ``absolutely'' OK with the decision.

``From the day Mr. Johnson hired me,'' Ryan said, ``he said it's 100 percent my decision who plays.''

Sanchez, whose confidence was shaken with Sunday's performance, gets a chance to bounce back from the first benching of his NFL career and to regain the trust of his teammates. He has struggled recently, with two touchdowns and five interceptions in his last four games.

``It was probably the worst and best experience of my life,'' Sanchez said. ``Hopefully, you learn from it and move on and never look back. It was definitely was the worst, but it could turn around and be one of the best things that's ever happened.''

He said he had never been benched, except for maybe on his fifth-grade basketball team.

``I think (Ryan) was, more or less, sending a message and it's well-received,'' Sanchez said. ``I know. I got it.''

He'll likely be on a short leash against Jacksonville - with Tebow the No. 2 if healthy, and McElroy also ready to go - but Ryan acknowledged it might not be a quick hook if he struggles. Ryan also referenced the team's color-coded system which determined how much risk Sanchez can take with each pass, saying the quarterback is now back in the ``red light'' area - meaning he must be extremely cautious.

``If he throws one interception, it doesn't mean he's going to get benched, necessarily,'' Ryan said.

It's still uncertain if Tebow will be active against his hometown Jaguars while he recovers from two broken ribs. Despite being medically cleared by team doctors to play, Ryan chose to keep him active but not play against New England on Thanksgiving night, and then made him inactive against Arizona.

If Ryan went with McElroy, a seventh-round pick in 2011 out of Alabama, it would have been a clear indication the franchise is moving on from Sanchez.

``I'm just disappointed because I let a lot of people down,'' Sanchez said. ``You let a lot of teammates down when you play like that. That never feels good. It just doesn't, not the way I prepare, not with the skill set I've been blessed to have.''

Money might have played a role in the decision, too, with Sanchez owed $8.25 million next year in guarantees. But Ryan adamantly denied that factored into things.

``Absolutely zero,'' he said without hesitating.

Still, the Jets are likely stuck with Sanchez and his contract, so they need to see if he can rebound after the lowest point of his career.

``I believe in Mark,'' Ryan said.

It didn't appear Tebow was much of a factor in Ryan's decision. Ryan said all three quarterbacks would be in the mix, but didn't speculate whether he would have pulled Sanchez in favor of Tebow last Sunday if he were active.

``I'm not too worried about it,'' Tebow said. ``Just trying to get better and trying to heal up.''

Tebow was expected to have a major role in the offense, but instead has been a spare part averaging about seven offensive snaps per game. He has been listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, but if the Jets turned to McElroy, it would have meant the No. 3 guy leapfrogged Tebow to start for the Jets.

McElroy said he has had a ``normal'' week so far, taking his usual number of snaps along with practicing with the scout team.

``You're not guaranteed anything, not at all,'' McElroy said. ``You do your best to make the most of your opportunity and do your best to help the team.''

The fact the next two games are on the road should also help Sanchez. He was booed mercilessly by the MetLife Stadium crowd last Sunday, particularly after each interception, and chants for McElroy were heard throughout the game. McElroy was cheered as he warmed up late in the third quarter, and there was growing sentiment among some fans and media that he earned a start after lifting the team.

``This is my opinion,'' Ryan said, ``and I believe that sometimes you don't need to sit a guy for `X' amount of games.''

Now, Ryan has sent the message to Sanchez: perform or else. And Sanchez gets another shot to save his job this season - and his status as the Jets' franchise quarterback.

``This kind of thing affects people's lives and careers,'' Sanchez said. ``It's not just, `Oh, man. Bummer.' It's not like that. This is serious.''

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

SAN FRANCISCO -- Trea Turner got five hits, Matt Adams homered and drove in six runs, and the Washington Nationals broke out of their offensive funk in a big way, routing the San Francisco Giants 15-2 Wednesday to end a four-game losing streak.

The Nationals had totaled just eight runs during their skid. Andrew Stevenson had two doubles, two singles and four RBIs as Washington set season highs for runs and hits (18).

Manager Dave Martinez's ballclub has been stunted by a rash of injuries this season but salvaged the final game of the three-game series at AT&T Park series to end a rough 4-5 road trip. Max Scherzer (5-1) did his part, striking out 10 in six innings.

Turner came into the game batting .232, and the leadoff man's slow start had contributed to the Nationals' struggles. He raised his batting average 35 points, tying a career high for hits in a game. He also scored twice, drove in two runs and stole his 10th base this season.

Adams matched his career best for RBIs. He singled as part of a three-run first, put the Nationals up 6-1 with a three-run homer off Jeff Samardzija (1-1) in the fourth and added a two-run single in the eighth.

The Nationals scored 14 of their 15 runs with two outs.

Scherzer earned his fourth consecutive win, all of them coming after a Washington loss. He allowed two runs and five hits, and reached double figures in strikeouts for the fourth time in six starts this season.

Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval each two hits apiece for the Giants.

Samardzija labored through a 30-pitch first inning and was done after retiring 11 batters. He gave up six runs on eight hits with three walks.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman and 2B Howie Kendrick were given the day off.

Giants: Mac Williamson was a late scratch because of neck stiffness, one day after stumbling over the bullpen pitching mound and crashing into a low fence while chasing a foul ball. ... RHP Chris Stratton was placed on the paternity list. ... RHP Roberto Gomez was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 2.97 ERA) pitches against the Diamondbacks on Friday in Washington. He has yielded six earned runs and three homers over his last 13 innings.

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-3, 4.98) faces the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park on Friday night. Holland is winless in two career starts against the Dodgers.

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Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

MORE 2018 NFL DRAFT:
- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

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