Continued from page 1

Ryan had better hope that’s the case, because his loyalty to Sanchez could backfire on the coach. They’ve never been more inextricably tied together.

Sanchez is owed $8.25 million in guaranteed money for 2013 as part of a contract extension the team gave him last March after failing in a short pursuit of Peyton Manning. Ryan certainly had a hand in that decision.

Until now, Ryan never has wavered in his support of Sanchez, even when it became obvious the quarterback wasn’t progressing the way other fourth-year QBs such as Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman had. Ryan recognizes that the contract extension and having no real competition for Sanchez left him with few choices that wouldn’t smack of panic.

Ryan is hoping Sanchez finds his way even though he is working with the least-talented group of teammates he’s had with the Jets. New York lacks a No. 1 receiver with Santonio Holmes sidelined _ some say Holmes isn’t a No. 1, either _ and the rest of his targets are young. Running back Shonn Greene wouldn’t start for most teams, and his backups are a nondescript bunch. The line has been in a slump for nearly two seasons.

Those issues are not Sanchez’s fault; they lie with personnel decisions made by management, including Ryan.

What is Sanchez’s responsibility is executing on the field, both mentally and physically. He’s shown little adeptness in either area this season.

“We are where we’re at. I can’t go back and change anything,” Sanchez said. “My job is to play well for the guys in this locker room and for a head coach who believes in me.”

A coach who believes so much in him that he might be staking his own job on that faith.

___

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL