Chris Strauss, USA TODAY Sports
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - New York Jets coach Rex Ryan labeled as cowards unnamed Jets who criticized backup quarterback Tim Tebow.
Ryan, in his daily press conference Wednesday, was addressing a report in which the Daily News said more than a dozen Jets players and coaches bashed Tebow -- with all but one player ripping him anonymously.
"I think it's a cowardly thing if you're not going to put your name to it," Ryan said, noting that he discussed the matter with his team Wednesday morning. "That's about as cowardly of a thing as there is."
The story, in which a Jets defensive starter was quoted as saying Tebow was "terrible," suggested a lack of confidence in his abilities as a starting quarterback, something Ryan reiterated that the former Heisman Trophy winner was not brought in to do.
"We never brought him in here to be the starting quarterback," Ryan said. "We already have a starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez. I thought I was clear on that from the day we brought Tim in here.
"What we also were clear on is he's a football player, and we have used him different roles. That'll still be part of what we do."
Ryan made a point of emphasizing how Tebow's presence has improved the punt team and praised his work ethic, disputing the sentiment in the Daily News story by saying that Tebow has improved fundamentally as a passer since joining the team. In addition, Ryan insisted he absolutely wanted Tebow to join the team when he was acquired. Other reports have suggested owner Woody Johnson forced Tebow on Ryan.
As far as division among his players, Ryan believes that the increased attention from the piece may actually unify the locker room.
"If I'm going to be judged on 'Will this team come together or not,' that's fine with me," Ryan said. "I'll be here a long time. Will it be 100 percent total belief in this guy and everybody? I don't know if that holds water in the entire league."
USA TODAY Sports