Coach's big decision: Preparing the hook?

SEATTLE -- Rex Ryan has remained steadfastly behind Mark Sanchez, giving weekly votes of confidence without the slightest bit of hesitation. But the offense is sputtering and the clock is ticking on the Jets’ season, raising the issue of whether Ryan would replace Sanchez with Tim Tebow if it continues to go south Sunday against the Seahawks.

It would be the biggest decision of Ryan’s tenure with the Jets; it's a multi-layered issue with far-reaching implications.

There have been no indications Ryan is contemplating such a move. Ryan has made it point to say Sanchez isn’t the only reason for the team’s struggles. Some folks in the organization would be surprised because of the offseason commitment it made to Sanchez -- a three-year contract extension, through 2016, with $8.25 million in guarantees for 2013. Bench Sanchez, and you have to be willing to part ways, one source said, adding: "I don't see them willing to do that right now."

If Ryan is thinking of a change, he has kept it close to the vest, sources said. He has many reasons to make it work with Sanchez, his handpicked franchise quarterback, but know this about coaches: If they feel their season slipping away, they're liable to try anything.

The Jets are 3-5, perhaps one loss from falling out of contention. The Seahawks have the type of defense that can make an opponent look bad, especially at noisy CenturyLink Field. If their pass-rushing bookends, Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin, start blowing up the Jets’ pass protection, it will be a long day for Sanchez.

What makes this quarterback situation unique is that Ryan could actually disguise a benching by increasing Tebow's role in the game. If Tebow plays a full series, or two consecutive series, it would be akin to a benching. Life would be a lot less complicated for the Jets if Sanchez plays well and they figure out a way to win the game.