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Tebow 'disappointed' by Ryan choosing McElroy

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Tebow 'disappointed' by Ryan choosing McElroy

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) It all began as an intriguing idea, the thought of Tim Tebow running around as an exciting spark for the New York Jets' offense.

Then it all fizzled - before it really even started.

Rex Ryan acknowledged Wednesday that he had higher expectations for the seldom-used Tebow in the Jets' wildcat-style offense. And, so did the NFL's most popular and maligned backup quarterback.

``For some reason, it hasn't panned out to my expectations and maybe Tim's, either,'' Ryan said. ``Defenses have attacked us a little differently. Maybe that's a contributing factor to it.''

Ryan would not go into detail about why he chose Greg McElroy over Tebow to replace the struggling Mark Sanchez as the team's starting quarterback with two games left in a lost season. He reiterated his comments from Tuesday that it was his decision - and his alone - saying it was a ``gut'' call.

It was one that, predictably, didn't sit well with Tebow.

``Obviously, I'm a little disappointed,'' he said. ``You try to handle it the best you can.''

Tebow paused for a second when asked if he felt passed over by Ryan choosing McElroy instead of him.

``All you can ask for and all you want is a chance,'' he said. ``A chance to go out there and play the game you love, and help this team win football games. That's all I wanted.''

Ryan didn't consult with any players before making the call - other than to tell Sanchez after the Jets' 14-10 loss to Tennessee on Monday night that he was out as the starter.

The fact McElroy leapfrogged Tebow appears to be a clear indicator that the Jets think very little of Tebow as a quarterback, the player they traded a fourth-round draft pick to Denver for in March despite having just signed Sanchez to a big contract extension.

``I think we had a vision of using Tim in different ways,'' Ryan said. ``Obviously, we used him as a personal punt protector. I thought maybe we would use him in other ways or something.''

As did Tebow. He has done his best to hide his frustration throughout the season, but it was clear Wednesday that he is unhappy. He spoke in a low tone, and the usually constant smiles were few and far between. He also shrugged his shoulders a few times at questions, almost struggling to say the right things without coming off as angry.

Tebow was also asked point-blank whether he pictures himself being a member of the Jets next season.

``I'll just wait until the end of the season,'' he said, ``and look at everything then.''

Tebow did say he has not asked to be traded after the season, but indicated that even he is a bit puzzled why the Jets brought him to New York.

``Umm, some things are hard to understand,'' he said. ``They're trying to do the best they can, and I understand that.''

General manager Mike Tannenbaum told The Associated Press during training camp that he and Ryan kicked around the idea of going after Tebow while sitting in an airport and seeing that Denver was about to acquire Peyton Manning.

Tannenbaum said the two jumped at that idea, and so did offensive coordinator Tony Sparano - and added that owner Woody Johnson was completely on board. For Johnson, it would be a publicity touchdown along with a chance to sell tickets, personal seat licenses and mountains of merchandise. For Ryan and Sparano, it would be adding a proven winner, an athlete who had his limitations as a passer, but added so much more in intangibles.

Ryan constantly called Tebow ``a football player,'' someone whose role would go far beyond just being the No. 2 quarterback behind Sanchez. But as each week came and went, Tebow has had a limited role in the offense after it was expected he would provide a boost. Even in situations that seemed tailor-made for Tebow - third-and-short, goal-line - he mostly remained on the sideline as a mere spectator.

``We're kind of ignoring the fact that he had two cracked ribs,'' Ryan said.

Sure, he was injured on Nov. 11 at Seattle, played three offensive snaps the next week at St. Louis and not at all in the next two games. But, it was clear that Tebow had gone from a key piece to a spare part for the Jets long before that. The wildcat offense that had been so anticipated and cloaked in secrecy during training camp became little more than what many considered an ineffective distraction.

``Did I expect to have a little more success running the wildcat? Maybe I did,'' Ryan said. ``I'm sure I did.''

Tebow's numbers are far from special: He has rushed for 102 yards on 32 carries and is 6 of 8 for 39 yards. And perhaps the most disturbing stat of all: zero touchdowns. Tebow hadn't been given a series on offense all season until Monday night, when he came in following two solid drives by Sanchez. It started with an 11-yard run by Joe McKnight, followed by a 12-yard rumble by Tebow. And then, nothing. The Jets were forced to punt a few plays later and Tebow's night was done.

Now, Tebow is left wondering what his role will be the last two games of the season because No. 2 on the depth chart isn't guaranteed. That could be Sanchez, meaning Tebow could be inactive. Or, as Ryan suggested, all three could be in uniform.

``Has it been a perfect situation? I'd say we're 6-8,'' Ryan said. ``There are probably things I never anticipated, and I'm the guy ultimately responsible.''

Whether Sanchez takes another snap for the Jets this season - or ever - remains to be seen. His confidence has taken a huge hit, and that process might have started from the day New York brought in Tebow. The fifth pick in the 2009 draft has 50 turnovers since the start of last season, an awful amount of mistakes from a player once considered the face of the franchise who drew comparisons to Joe Namath just two years ago when he led the Jets to a second straight AFC title game appearance.

Either way, it appears Tebow is not a part of the Jets' future. And, Sanchez might not be, either. McElroy is getting the opportunity to show if he could be, but Ryan insists he's only thinking about the last two opponents: the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills.

``Any long-term discussion,'' Ryan said, ``will probably be better served after that (final) game.''

For Tebow, he's trying not to think about the ``what-ifs'' or the disappointments of his first, and possibly only, season in New York.

``I don't have regrets,'' Tebow said. ``I believe everything happens for a reason, and it's a learning opportunity for me and there's a lot I've learned, good and bad.

``I still appreciate the opportunity to come be a Jet.''

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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How MLB managers feeling heat, including Nationals' Davey Martinez, block it out

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USA TODAY Sports

How MLB managers feeling heat, including Nationals' Davey Martinez, block it out

WASHINGTON -- Davey Martinez likes to venture around town when the Nationals are home. He hunts for a quality bottle of red wine in local shops, at times takes a scooter to work and generally operates among the District denizens as if he wasn’t captaining a creaking ship.

When alone, he’s not overly recognizable but clear enough after a year-plus at the helm of the local baseball team to be noticed. The subsequent interactions, he claims, are often positive. Fans say they believe the Nationals will turn it around. They support him. They’re behind the team.

“Fans understand the game,” Martinez said Saturday. “Of course everybody wants to win. We want to win. Trust me. There’s not one guy in that clubhouse that goes out there and wants to give up a home run, wants to strikeout. We all want to win. But I hear a lot of, ‘You’re doing a great job.’ Positive. Things will turn around. I say, 'Thank you. Appreciate it.' I can tell you one thing, the guys are there to play hard.”

Anyone hurling tomatoes at him in the grocery store? Does he have bad interactions?

“If I did, I wouldn’t tell you, one,” Martinez said with a smile. “And two, you really don’t listen. I don’t even hear most of the stuff that’s going on during games. I really don’t.”

It’s that insular mentality that can help managers survive when the heat is cranked up around them. For Martinez, it’s worrying about “the boys” and not external noise. Chicago’s Joe Maddon prefers “circling the wagons” in a pressurized environment. In New York, where the subpar Nationals open a four-game series Monday night against the stumbling Mets, manager Mickey Callaway is taking shots head-on. MLB Network’s around-the-league show “Quick Pitch” showed Saturday night clips when the Mets announcers called the game “rock bottom.” The Mets were shut out the next day, and he was asked postgame about his job status on both Saturday and Sunday.

Martinez does not use social media. In his free time, he prefers to go hunting or fishing, not scroll through his phone to see any commentary about his job performance. Maddon, his mentor turned antagonist, felt waves early in Tampa Bay and even in Chicago when the Cubs careened to a 2-7 start this year, the last of his contract. He also stays away from Twitter and the radio dial.

“For me, it’s always about circling the wagons,” Maddon said. “As long as you’re pleased with what’s going on within the group, that’s all that matters. Quite frankly, talk radio, social media, that doesn’t matter. If you permit that to matter, that’s kind of your own fault. That’s there for entertainment purposes. That’s there to promote the game. Good. Barroom banter is tremendous. It’s necessary. I get it. But when it comes to running an organization, if you permit noise from the outside to impact your decisions inside, you deserve your fate.”

Rumblings around Martinez have leveled in the last week. A split in Los Angeles pushed back a miserable sweep in Milwaukee. A series win against Callaway’s Mets produced mathematical progress as opposed to any moralistic claims. A tight series against the Cubs ended with a 6-5 loss Sunday. The baseball since Los Angeles has been better.

That doesn’t remove Martinez from outside conversations about his, and the team’s, future. As things cook in New York, the Nationals remain in a desultory spot of eight games under .500 and eight games out. The coming schedule and recently increased health suggests opportunity. Tussling with the Mets is followed by Miami’s arrival at Nationals Park for four games. A quick two-game trip to Atlanta follows. 

Asked about Martinez’s situation, Maddon turned to the space most have pointed at this season: the bullpen. His words were delivered Friday afternoon.

“Love the team on the field,” Maddon said. “Love the talent on the field. Even without [Bryce] Harper being here. Their system has been outstanding. The young players are high-end. I think before you get all weirded out about Davey, let’s get a bullpen that plays consistently well. Then, you can find out what you got. I’m telling you, man, you could do everything right in a ballgame as a manager -- whether it’s pre the game or during the game, that if you can’t get those outs in the latter part of the game, it’s extremely frustrating for everybody.”

The Nationals bullpen was clobbered that evening. It remains last in the league in ERA by a large margin. 

If a Washington turnabout is nigh, it may come from a combination of further roster bolstering (Matt Adams and Ryan Zimmerman returning), the bullpen progressing to the mean and Juan Soto looking more like the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year runner-up. The two first basemen are close to ready. It would be hard for the bullpen to be worse. Five hits in three games for the 20-year-old Soto have him appearing back on track.

In New York, Callaway has little to lean on. His team picked up three hits in two games against lowly Miami during the weekend. Sunday, outspoken starter Noah Syndergaard came to his defense.

"I respect the hell out of Mickey," Syndergaard told reporters Sunday. "Mickey has tremendous leadership values. It's kind of [expletive] what's going on right now with this speculation that there could be a change because we're so early in the season and just one very small step away from putting this all together. It's certainly not on him."

Martinez has not arrived in that territory. Yet. But on the way there -- or out -- he’ll try to use a common tactic of building walls to prevent the outside from seeping inside.

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