Noncommittal fits Rex Ryan like an uncomfortable suit. He doesn’t wear it well.
That’s why his uncharacteristic waffling about his plans for Mark Sanchez in Sunday’s regular-season finale doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Though Ryan yesterday wouldn’t say whether Sanchez would start or play at all, he continued to hint strongly that Sanchez will play. He said he just doesn’t want to commit to it until he makes completely sure Sanchez’s sore right shoulder is right.
“I haven’t decided that he’s going to play X-amount of plays or if he’s going to play at all,” Ryan said. “I’m leaning to think that maybe he’ll play some, but we’ll see.”
Bank on this: Sanchez will at least start the game and play a portion of the first half. The one thing Ryan was sure about was the fact Sanchez will not play the entire game.
When pressed about Sanchez playing as long as his shoulder is healthy, Ryan said: “I think we will play him.”
Ryan said Sanchez’s shoulder “felt better” this week at this time than it did last week. And, considering Sanchez played one of his better games last Sunday in Chicago, you would have to think he will play Sunday.
“I’m not going to put him in a situation where he’s going to get hurt,” Ryan said. “If we don’t think he’s 100 percent or right at it I’d have a tough time playing him.”
Ryan has not hidden the fact he wants to keep Sanchez in the same rhythm he’s been in the last two games, during which he’s played well and seen his completion percentage rise dramatically.
Sanchez has completed 65.2-percent of his passes in the last two games against two top-rated defenses (Pittsburgh and Chicago) — more than 10 percentage points higher than his 54.8-percent season average.
Asked if Sanchez has expressed a desire to play, Ryan said: “All competitors want to play and Mark’s no different.”
Sanchez said he wants to play but knows it’s a tough decision for Ryan.
“I’m glad I’m not a head coach. I always want to play,” he said. “I just want to be smart with my shoulder and make sure the reps I get are quality reps and that nothing slips in preparation.
Sanchez is the Jets’ ticket to success as evidenced by his play in their victories this season.
In the Jets’ 10 wins, Sanchez has completed 178-of-306 passes (58.2 percent) for 2,146 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions for a passer rating of 89.4. In their five losses he has completed 100-of-201 passes (49.8 percent) for 1,145 yards, two touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Ryan said he will “have a better answer later in the week” about Sanchez’s role in the game.
“He’s got a good feel for things,” Sanchez said. “He knows what he wants out of us. He also wants to be smart and at the same time keep us in rhythm. All of us are feeling a rhythm on offense and we don’t want to disrupt that. We want to hit the playoffs in stride. That’s the game plan this week.”
Sanchez said he was happy to hear Ryan’s change of heart from Sunday when he said right after the Bears game he would rest his starting quarterback.
“It’s good that he sees I’m playing well and he wants to keep me in that good place,” Sanchez said. “It’s just like a shooter in basketball. You start shooting a good percentage and are hitting all your shots and making the right decisions and you want to keep rolling. You don’t want to change anything.”