(Sports Network) - Tim Tebow won't start on Sunday. And based on recent
history, he probably won't be the decisive factor in whether the New York Jets
win or lose in St. Louis.
But as has been the case nearly every day since a trade with the Denver
Broncos, he remains the top story in the green-clad football circus.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak that's forged new performance lows
since Rex Ryan's tenure began in 2009, the Jets' locker room has apparently
devolved toward the same fractured mess that helped propel the plummet from
8-5 contender to 8-8 playoff miss just a year ago.
A handful of anonymous players were quoted in a Wednesday story in the New
York Daily News indicating a complete lack of faith in Tebow's prowess, with
one player labeling him "terrible."
This all unfolds -- or unravels, if you prefer -- while starter Mark Sanchez
has had myriad on-field struggles of his own, posting a league-worst 52.0
completion percentage through nine games. He's coming off a woeful 9-for-22,
124-yard performance in a 21-point loss last week at Seattle.
His 70.9 passer rating is 30th in the NFL.
"I have got to make better decisions," he said. "Careless mistakes. Totally on
Ryan, however, has shown no significant inclination toward making a QB change.
"With me, I will never waver," Ryan said.
"I am not going to make a decision to save my job. I am in it to win games.
I'm not sitting back concentrating on how do I save my job. I am concentrating
on how do we win."
Still, while the loyalty to Sanchez has player support according to the
newspaper, the coach is concerned with the acerbic way that support is being
He said the situation comprised the content of a team meeting this week.
"If you're not going to put your name to it, I think that's about as cowardly
of a thing there is," Ryan said. "I don't want to get into specifics of what I
said, but I did address it with our football team. If you're searching for
things to try to drive a wedge through the team, my thing is, I believe in
this team. I believe this team is (together), will continue to be and maybe
even become tighter. I'm confident that will be the case."
Running back Shonn Greene was the most vocal Tebow supporter, saying "His
mechanics, his throwing, (they don't look) like a normal NFL quarterback. But
you know what? He's a football player. He makes stuff happen.
"Something's got to change. When you get to the point where you're 3-6, and
losing and losing, a couple of guys are like, 'Oh, what would happen?' But
guys at the same time have faith in Mark, so it's kind of an up-and-down
The quarterbacks, at least when microphones are close by, remain aligned.
"I always find the good and the positive in every situation," Tebow said. "The
positive of this is to go and work a little harder and build better
relationships with your teammates."
"I've been in those shoes," he said. "I feel for Tim. You wake up the next day
and you keep playing."
The Rams, meanwhile, come off one of their most inspired efforts of the
season, a duel with NFC West kingpin San Francisco that ended in an NFL rarity
-- a 24-24 tie.
And the deadlock came only after St. Louis lost a 10-point second-half lead.
"You know, we can be proud of the way we gave the effort," defensive end Chris
Long said, "and like I said we went toe-to-toe with a team we have great
Quarterback Sam Bradford completed 26 of 39 passes for 275 yards and two
touchdowns. He's completed 66.9 percent over the last four games.
Additionally, an overtime throw to Danny Amendola against the Niners might
have set up a decisive touchdown, but it was negated by a penalty. Amendola
had 11 catches for 102 yards after missing three games with injury.
"I think our offense as a whole has really made a lot of strides in the past
couple weeks," Bradford said. "I think last week was evidence of what we're
capable of when we don't shoot ourselves in the foot. We still made mistakes
but for the most part I think that was our most complete game as an offense.
We put up a lot of yards and a fair amount of points against a really good
The Jets are No. 6 in the NFL with just 203.8 passing yards allowed per game,
but they're third from last among the 32 teams with a weekly opposition
rushing clip of 145 yards -- a number that was boosted last week when
Marshawn Lynch and others rumbled for 174 yards.
Against San Francisco, St. Louis's Steven Jackson had season-bests of 101
yards on 29 carries.
The Rams have won nine of 12 all-time games between the teams and seven of the
last eight, but New York was a 47-3 winner in the most recent game in November
2008 -- behind starting quarterback Brett Favre and coach Eric Mangini.
Ryan has never faced St. Louis. Rams coach Jeff Fisher is 4-5 in nine career
meetings with New York.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
For the Rams, a great way to add to an already nose-diving Jets offense would
be to ratchet up the pressure on a struggling Sanchez.
St. Louis is near the middle of the pack -- 13th of 32 -- with 228.7 pass
yards allowed per game, but its 26 sacks are tied for sixth and a young,
aggressive defensive line might be ripe for more against a New York offensive
line that's excellent in spots and suspect in others. St. Louis had five sacks
last week against San Francisco.
For the Jets, each week of the losing streak brings another referendum on
Ryan. The loss to the Patriots was allowable to many, but the subsequent home
blowout by the Dolphins and a post-bye flameout against the Seahawks makes it
appear that his messages simply aren't getting through once adversity arrives.
The Rams game, at the start of the season, was marked as a likely win. But
with the way things have gone since, it looks no better than a 50/50
proposition. In that case, the tie goes to the host.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Rams 17, Jets 16
The Sports Network