Claremore Daily Progress

Breaking News

Sports

December 20, 2012

NFL: McElroy goes from third-string QB to starter for Jets

NEW YORK — Greg McElroy has thought about this moment for years, ever since he was a young boy in Texas pretending he was Troy Aikman.

McElroy could imagine nothing greater in those days than being just like one of his idols, throwing the football around and helping an NFL team win games. Fast-forward a few years, and here's McElroy now: starting Sunday as the quarterback for the New York Jets.

"I did it,'' a beaming McElroy said Wednesday. "I got here and I'm very grateful and excited about this opportunity.''

The game against the San Diego Chargers will mark the first NFL start for McElroy, who is stepping in for the benched Mark Sanchez and leapfrogging backup Tim Tebow on the Jets' depth chart. Rex Ryan made the decision Tuesday to go with the team's seventh-round pick last year out of Alabama, and now McElroy gets a chance to show the Jets if he might be part of the franchise's future.

"I don't look at it like anything,'' McElroy said. "Obviously, it's one game at a time. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, your role changes every day and every minute. You never know what the situation is going to be. ... Just enjoy right now, live in the moment. That's what my Dad said when I talked to him, `Live in the moment. Enjoy this. You've been dreaming about this your whole life.'''

McElroy, who led the Jets to a 7-6 win over Arizona when he replaced Sanchez late in that game three weeks ago, took the first-team snaps at practice Wednesday.

Ryan hasn't decided on who the No. 2 quarterback will be Sunday - Sanchez or Tebow. All that matters for now is that McElroy, in the coach's mind, is No. 1.

"I definitely think I want to see what Greg can do,'' Ryan said. "He's a winner. He's been a winner his whole life.''

He certainly has. McElroy helped lead Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas, to a state title in 2005. Four years later, the University of Alabama rolled all the way to the national championship with McElroy as the quarterback.

Still, there were knocks on his size - he's 6-foot-2 and a trim 225 pounds - and his arm strength. Draft "experts'' projected McElroy as a decent system quarterback, a guy who could be a solid backup but probably couldn't be an NFL starter. So, McElroy slipped to the seventh round last year.

Ryan said McElroy's arm is "immensely'' better than it was when he first joined the team, and since missing all of last season after dislocating a thumb in a preseason game. He made some news in the offseason, though, when he told an Alabama radio station that there was a "corrupt mindset'' in the Jets' locker room that included some "extremely selfish individuals.'' He later apologized to his teammates for the comments.

"His whole resume speaks about him obviously being a very confident guy and a confident leader,'' Ryan said. "He understands that we have to protect the football. That's where we're at right now.''

And that's because Sanchez failed miserably at that, turning the ball over 50 times since the start of last season. After McElroy's solid performance against the Cardinals - 5 of 7 for 29 yards and a touchdown - Ryan took a few days before deciding to stick with Sanchez.

That second chance lasted two games as Sanchez struggled mightily while McElroy wasn't even in uniform, listed as inactive. Despite the Jets being eliminated from postseason contention, Sunday's game couldn't be bigger for McElroy.

"I think it's a tremendous opportunity, a tremendous moment for me,'' McElroy said. "I can't emphasize enough that this is not a finish line.

"This is a starting point.''

It could also signal an end point for Sanchez, once considered the face of the franchise who drew comparisons to Joe Namath after helping the Jets to consecutive AFC title games in his first two seasons.

Ryan reminded reporters of that on Wednesday, highlighting Sanchez's four playoff road wins and ability to "make all the throws.'' He also was critical of the quarterback's mistakes, but refused to say that the Jets misjudged his talent when trading up to draft him fifth overall.

"Well, it's disappointing,'' Sanchez said. "You just hate letting other guys down on the team and that's the worst part of it. You're going in there, trying to play well and improve and I just made some bad decisions. I just have to take care of the football better and own up to my mistakes and get better.''

Sanchez threw four interceptions and couldn't handle a shotgun snap from Nick Mangold with the game on the line in the Jets' 14-10 loss at Tennessee. It was an ugly ending to what perhaps could be his last play as New York's starting quarterback - although Sanchez believes he'll be in that position again someday.

"Sure, absolutely,'' he said. "And you have to feel that way and be confident as a quarterback, no matter how many interceptions or touchdowns or anything you've thrown. I just have to be ready to come back strong and I will.''

Running back Joe McKnight, a former teammate at Southern California, suggested that the move to bench Sanchez came as a result of the coaching staff giving in to fans who have been calling for Tebow or McElroy to start for weeks. Sanchez disagreed with Ryan's decision but said he would fully support McElroy in practice and during games.

"Everything that I've learned at this position in this league has been from Mark,'' McElroy said. "He's the guy that I've seen every day. Every day that I've been an NFL player, I've been looking up to him. I've been observing him and trying to follow after his lead. I've been watching him. I understand how to play this game because of him and I'm very grateful for that opportunity.''

Neither Ryan nor the other three quarterbacks would speculate on what next season will bring, but it's a good bet Sanchez will be back. The Jets owe him $8.25 million in guaranteed money because of a contract extension last offseason. There's a chance New York could just cut ties with him, or try to trade him. Sanchez refused to entertain any of those possibilities.

"Look, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals of me being here, not being here, whatever,'' he said. "We're focused on this week, we're ready to play San Diego and that's where my mind's at. So, any question about what's going to happen next year, are you going to be a starter ever again, I'm not even going to go there.''



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0014web.jpg 9 straight for Lady Zebras

    Claremore sophomore forward Bailey Steckline got the ‘hat-trick’ plus one Tuesday night in the Lady Zebras’ 10-0 win over Tulsa Memorial at  LaFortune Stadium.
    Steckline tallied two goals in the first half, and added two more in the second to complete her impressive night.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0156web.jpg Tulsa Memorial holds off Zebras, 2-1

    Tulsa Memorial scored a pair of first-half goals  to steal the momentum away from the Claremore Zebras, as well as the 2-1 win Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference action at LaFortune Stadium.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0015web.jpg BASEBALL: Whatley, Howe power Zebras past Tahlequah

    Claremore’s Matt Whatley has proven over the past four years that he’s one of the toughest outs in the Metro Lakes Conference.
    On Tuesday, Whatley went 3-for-4 with two singles and a triple while sparking the Zebras to a 12-2 win over Tahlequah in five innings at American Legion Park.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • BASEBALL: Dewey takes pair from Sequoyah

    It’s very difficult to win when you can’t score.
    Class 4A third-ranked Dewey blanked homestanding Sequoyah 7-0 and 2-0 in a district doubleheader on Tuesday, improving to 21-3 with a dominating two-hit pitching performance in the opener and a four-hitter in the nightcap.

    April 18, 2014

  • SOCCER: Sequoyah topples No. 15 Catoosa, 1-0

    Sequoyah boys soccer coach Bob Campbell had one phrase to sum up his feelings following the Eagles’ game with 15th ranked Catoosa at home Tuesday night.
    “We’re in the driver’s seat.’’
    Alex Bourgeois scored late in the first half and Sequoyah made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over the Indians in a showdown for the district lead.

    April 18, 2014

  • Jackson sprints Zebras to 1st place at OBU Relays

    Claremore senior sprinter Tyler Jackson felt the need for speed Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma Baptist University High School Invitational.
    Jackson notched a pair of first-place victories in the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash to help Claremore earn 130 points for top honors.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Arkansas Tech roughs up ‘Cats

    The Rogers State University baseball team had a disappointing finish in its home finale as No. 12-ranked Arkansas Tech blanked the Hillcats 11-0 Tuesday evening in non-conference action from the Diamond Sports Complex.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Southwest Baptist slips past NSU, 5-3

     The Northeastern State baseball team lost 5-3 to Southwest Baptist Thursday afternoon at Dobson Field.
     
    The RiverHawks (19-22, 15-18 MIAA) held a 3-0 lead early in the contest, but a late rally from the Bearcats (23-18, 19-13 MIAA) and costly errors from the visitors allowed the home team to secure the series-opening triumph.

    April 18, 2014

  • WOMEN'S TENNIS: Conference champion NSU lands top seed in MIAA tourney

    The No. 31-ranked Northeastern State women's tennis team has drawn the top seed in the 2014 MIAA Women's Tennis Championship, the league announced Thursday morning.

    April 18, 2014

AP Video