Coach Rex Ryan announced earlier this week Greg McElroy would be under center this Sunday when the New York Jets take on the San Diego Chargers at home.
For McElroy, this will be the first start in his career. In his only action of this season, McElroy was triumphant at home over the Arizona Cardinals, 7-6. Replacing Mark Sanchez in the third quarter, McElroy threw the only touchdown of the game to lift the Jets to victory.
New York’s new starting quarterback was probably as surprised as any player of the news, as he has been inactive for 13 out of 14 games this season. Tim Tebow, typically listed as the backup quarterback, was inactive with broken ribs for the Arizona game forcing the Jets’ head coach to activate McElroy. Throughout the season, Ryan has been consistent only having two quarterbacks on the gameday roster.
Switching quarterbacks at this point in the season is a gigantic surprise, to say the least. Monday night’s loss secured New York’s position out of the playoffs this year. Ryan now feels like a change should be made for the final two meaningless games of the regular season.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound quarterback leapfrogged fan favorite Tim Tebow. However, this is not the first time the two adversaries have faced off in competition, they played in the 2009 SEC Championship Game.
McElroy, then at Alabama, won their only meeting in a season the Crimson Tide would eventually win the national championship. His counterpart, Tebow, was seen visibly crying on the sidelines during the waning seconds of the game. Even Tebow’s head coach at Florida, Urban Meyer, needed to be taken to the hospital with breathing difficulty following the loss.
McElroy will be the third quarterback to play college ball in Tuscaloosa to start for Gang Green. In fact, there was a 19 year stretch, from 1965 to 1985, where a former Tide quarterback started at least one game for New York. Joe Namath and Richard Todd maintained the streak, of course Broadway Joe won the franchise’s only Super Bowl in 1968.
This move has the potential to be career advancing for McElroy, if he soars. Just look at recent history, Matt Flynn was the backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay in 2011. He started the final game of the regular season against the Detroit Lions and threw for a franchise record six touchdowns in a win. In the immediate offseason, he signed a 3-year deal for $26 million with $10 million guaranteed with the Seattle Seahawks.
McElroy’s success could create a lot of drama in the city that never sleeps. Jets’ fans will want McElroy back to become the starter, but the organization has guaranteed Sanchez $8.25 million next season.
Tebow’s current contract is through the 2014 season. Earlier this season, owner Woody Johnson said Sanchez and Tebow would finish out their contracts in New York.