New York Jets fans finally got what they wanted; in Sunday's game at home against the Arizona Cardinals, head coach Rex Ryan made the decision to bench quarterback Mark Sanchez. Except it was not the man they expected replacing Sanchez. With Tim Tebow inactive dealing with a rib injury, third-string quarterback Greg McElroy ended up throwing a touchdown pass and leading his team to a 7-6 victory.
Here is some of the reaction to the quarterback switch, from both players.
"Going into the entire week, I just prepared as always," McElroy said. "I played against the defense on the scout team. I was Ryan Lindley during the week. That was my role. That's what I was expecting to be. Coach Ryan decided to do something differently."
Sanchez has been struggling for weeks, leading to chants from fans for Tebow to get action at quarterback. Ryan has been defending his quarterback but Sanchez struggled mightily on Sunday, throwing three interceptions and failing to move the ball at all. Ryan turned to McElroy in the third quarter.
'Of course you want to be in the game," Sanchez said. "I've been in a situation like that before. It was a learning experience. We'll move on and do exactly what Greg does for me and that's support him, chart the plays, give him my insight from the sideline and do my best to help us win whether you're on the field or off."
While Sanchez has become used to being booed over the past few weeks, this sort of atmosphere was different for McElroy, as the fans were chanting his name throughout the stadium for him to come in and replace Sanchez.
"It's tough to gauge the energy," McElroy said. "I didn't have a decibel meter where I could tell what the crowd noise was (laughter). It was fun. We were having a good time. It was exciting to get a shot and go in there."
McElroy spent last season on injured reserve and admitted he didn't know if he would every play.
"You never know. This is a crazy game. Even if you’re the one, two or three, you’re always a couple of plays away at most. The Arizona Cardinals started their third quarterback today," he said. "Things change throughout the course of the season."
McElroy's first NFL series led a 10-play drive that resulted in what ended up being the game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland. Does McElroy now become the starter? Does the team go back Sanchez? Do they go to Tebow?
"I have no idea, Sanchez said. "I'll go prepare my butt off, be ready to play and whatever Rex decides to do, we'll go with that."