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Mark Sanchez calls benching 'worst experience of my life'

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

We've spent a lot of words on the Jets' quarterback situation. Perhaps too many words. But it's easily the most compelling story on a team that's perfected the slow-motion train wreck.

The latest plot twist came Sunday when coach Rex Ryan finally benched Mark Sanchez after the fourth-year quarterback threw three interceptions against the Cardinals. As it happened, America's backup, Tim Tebow, was in civvies because of a rib injury, which meant that former seventh-rounder Greg McElroy got the nod. He played well in limited action, completing 5-of-7 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown.

After the Jets eked out the 7-6 win, the conversation immediately turned to … well, the same conversation Ryan has after every game: Who's his quarterback going to be next week?

But this time, it wasn't Tebow who threatened Sanchez's place atop the depth chart, it was McElroy.

Despite some internal disagreements, Ryan settled on Sanchez.

On Wednesday, the former first-round pick talked about the very valuable lesson he learned while on clipboard duty for the second half of the Cards' game.

“I think [Ryan] was more or less sending a message,” Sanchez said via CBSSports.com's Lisa Zimmerman. “It's well received. I know. I got it.”

That's all well and good, but why did Ryan wait till now, with the Jets 5-7 and the playoffs almost an impossibility (we say "almost" because, well, just look at that schedule)? This is a rhetorical question; Ryan has a lot invested in Sanchez (exactly $8.3 million guaranteed for next season), and despite what he may say publicly, it's clear he knows that Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback. For better or worse, he's stuck.

“It was probably the worst and best experience of my life,” Sanchez continued. “Hopefully you learn from it and move on and never look back.”

At this point, hope is all the Jets have. Whether it's enough to magically propel them to the playoffs is another issue.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

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