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Rex Ryan defends Mark Sanchez against his anonymous critics

Wild Card Playoffs - New York Jets v Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08: Head coach Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets talk on the field during warm ups against the Indianapolis Colts during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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As the blame game continues around the Jets, head coach Rex Ryan has stepped into the fray to stick up for quarterback Mark Sanchez.

On his conference call today to introduce new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, Ryan also spent some time speaking up for Sanchez -- and against the unnamed teammates who have been quoted denigrating Sanchez in the press.

“I don’t know how many that don’t feel confident in Mark Sanchez,” Ryan said. “I’ll tell you this, if it’s not all of them, it’s the majority of our football team has a great deal confidence in Mark Sanchez. And when he walks through that door, his head is going to be held high, there’s no question about it. That’s what I know.”

Ryan has never been shy about standing by his own brash comments, and he said he doesn’t have much respect for people who need to hide their criticisms behind the cloak of anonymity.

“An anonymous source, or whatever it is, doesn’t speak on behalf of the entire football team; doesn’t put his name to a quote and things like that,” Ryan said. “Believe me, there’s a lot of people that I know specifically -- a ton of our players, and everybody in this organization, in my opinion, that has a great deal of belief and admiration for Mark Sanchez.”

Of course, one of the criticisms of Sanchez has been that he became “lazy” because he was “coddled” by Ryan, and that Sanchez knew he didn’t have to worry about Ryan benching him. Ryan’s decision to forcefully defend Sanchez does nothing to change that perspective.

But Ryan’s comments do send a message to the rest of his players that he’ll defend them publicly, even as they’re ripping each other privately.