Christmas has come early for one player on the New York Jets. In a surprise move, Rex Ryan has decided to play third string quarterback Greg McElroy in Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.
The decision came soon after New York's loss to Tennessee which saw Mark Sanchez turn the ball over five times, knocking Gang Green out of playoff contention for the second year in a row. Ryan informed Sanchez after the game that he would be benched, but the bombshell came Tuesday when McElroy was chosen ahead of Tim Tebow to start on Sunday. McElroy was excited to hear the news that he would be starting his first NFL game and hopes to make the most of his chance.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," grinned McElroy. "Obviously this is something I've looked forward to and I've dreamed about my entire life."
Jets fans have already seen McElroy play two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals. After Sanchez threw for three interceptions and failed to reach the end zone through three quarters, McElroy was put into game in favor of Sanchez. It only took the former Crimson Tide star one series to do what Sanchez could not when McElroy connected with Jeff Cumberland for a seven-yard touchdown. Even with his earlier success, McElroy refuses to see this start as a tryout for next year.
"I am taking it one step at a time," said McElroy. "You can't get caught up in next year. Just enjoy this game (and) the fact that I'm able to step out there on the field against San Diego."
The move has sent shockwaves through the Jets organization. Both Sanchez and Tebow were visibly shaken at practice on Wednesday. Despite his new contract extension, Sanchez may have played his last game as the Jets starter due to his ineptitude at moving the ball down field.
Tebow finally spoke out against the injustices he feels that the Jets have put him through this season. Reports suggest that he will request a trade out of New York if he does not start one of the final two games of the season. Despite the rumors swirling, McElroy maintains that the two quarterbacks are supportive of the change.
"You will not find two bigger cheerleaders in the entire stadium," said McElroy. "Those guys are so supportive. I'm very grateful for that and I think they're grateful for our relationship as well."
McElroy is facing an underachieving San Diego team facing their own identity crisis as well. With Norv Turner likely losing his head coaching job, the Chargers are looking to rebuild their franchise. Despite the struggles that their opponents have faced, McElroy refuses to take the team lightly and believes he will be ready to lead the Jets to a late season victory.
"They do a lot of different things to make it difficult," stated McElroy of the Chargers' defense. "(They have) a tremendous front seven, so it will be a great challenge for us. It's something that we're looking forward to."