Loyalty is all well and good when it comes to any aspect in life. As a head coach in the NFL, though, that loyalty can get you hitting the unemployment line faster than a starving man can grab a turkey drumstick. For head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, his loyalty to starter Mark Sanchez is fast becoming the stuffing in that turkey.
While the finger can't be solely pointed at Sanchez for the Jets miserable 4-7 season so far, it does need to stay on him longer than anyone else. An NFL team is built to follow in the lead and mentality of it's starting quarterback and while there is some exceptions to this, the Jets aren't one of those rare teams with super-talented defensive voices like the Baltimore Ravens.
No, the Jets are a strong reflection of their starting quarterback. A team that is mistake prone, mentally weak and showing an utter lack of heart.
That being said, the craziest thing about this isn't the wishy-washy play of Sanchez or the example he sets; it's that Ryan still believes that Sanchez gives the Jets the best chance to win. Even after a 49-19 Thanksgiving drubbing by the New England Patriots where even the fans were chanting for backup quarterback Tim Tebow by the end of the first half, Ryan refuses to even acknowledge the possibility of Tebow starting a game.
"I believe in Mark," Ryan said after Thursday's game. "I definitely believe in Mark, and I've always said I think he gives us the best opportunity to win. And that's how I feel."
Even the most loyal of dogs stops coming back for more after it gets kicked a few times. So why is Ryan so steadfastly supporting a quarterback who has lost the ability to lead his team?
That's the million dollar question and the answer is simple enough: he doesn't want to find himself in the same boat John Elway found himself in at the end of last season in Denver. Ryan doesn't want to turn to Tim Tebow as a starter because he's afraid that Tebow will win games. He's afraid that with any success that Tebow might have, his place as starter would be entrenched more and more, thus creating a more serious headache if Ryan wants to bring someone else in.
And let's face it, he's right. There isn't going to be any Peyton Manning's on the free agent market after the season to appease Jets fans if Tebow is successful.
So, instead of being potentially stuck with a starting quarterback who could win more games in a completely ugly way, Ryan is choosing to stay with Sanchez and lose games in a completely ugly way for the sake of next season and beyond. The why of this is easy: he doesn't believe in Tim Tebow and by the sound of the Jets locker room recently, neither do some of the players.
That being said, you have to wonder how much leash Ryan has at the moment and how much tighter it's going to get if the Jets continue to lose ugly.
Probably at least enough to hang himself with.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty