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“It was probably the worst and best experience of my life,” Sanchez said. “Hopefully, you learn from it and move on and never look back. It was definitely was the worst, but it could turn around and be one of the best things that’s ever happened.”

He said he had never been benched, except for maybe on his fifth-grade basketball team.

“I think (Ryan) was, more or less, sending a message and it’s well-received,” Sanchez said. “I know. I got it.”

He’ll likely be on a short leash against Jacksonville _ with Tebow the No. 2 if healthy, and McElroy also ready to go _ but Ryan acknowledged it might not be a quick hook if he struggles. Ryan also referenced the team’s color-coded system which determined how much risk Sanchez can take with each pass, saying the quarterback is now back in the “red light” area _ meaning he must be extremely cautious.

“If he throws one interception, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get benched, necessarily,” Ryan said.

It’s still uncertain if Tebow will be active against his hometown Jaguars while he recovers from two broken ribs. Despite being medically cleared by team doctors to play, Ryan chose to keep him active but not play against New England on Thanksgiving night, and then made him inactive against Arizona.

If Ryan went with McElroy, a seventh-round pick in 2011 out of Alabama, it would have been a clear indication the franchise is moving on from Sanchez.

“I’m just disappointed because I let a lot of people down,” Sanchez said. “You let a lot of teammates down when you play like that. That never feels good. It just doesn’t, not the way I prepare, not with the skill set I’ve been blessed to have.”

Money might have played a role in the decision, too, with Sanchez owed $8.25 million next year in guarantees. But Ryan adamantly denied that factored into things.

“Absolutely zero,” he said without hesitating.

Still, the Jets are likely stuck with Sanchez and his contract, so they need to see if he can rebound after the lowest point of his career.

“I believe in Mark,” Ryan said.

It didn’t appear Tebow was much of a factor in Ryan’s decision. Ryan said all three quarterbacks would be in the mix, but didn’t speculate whether he would have pulled Sanchez in favor of Tebow last Sunday if he were active.

“I’m not too worried about it,” Tebow said. “Just trying to get better and trying to heal up.”

Tebow was expected to have a major role in the offense, but instead has been a spare part averaging about seven offensive snaps per game. He has been listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, but if the Jets turned to McElroy, it would have meant the No. 3 guy leapfrogged Tebow to start for the Jets.

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