New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow was so frustrated when the starting job was conferred upon Greg McElroy early last week that he told the coaches he didn't want to be used in any Wildcat packages Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, multiple Jets sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
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Tebow was active, but did not play in the 27-17 loss at MetLife Stadium.
In Tebow's absence, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley -- a former high school quarterback -- ran the plays for the first time all season. The Wildcat has been Tebow's package, and was the reason Jets coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said he was brought to New York.
Tebow has been frustrated all season by his lack of playing time, but it culminated Tuesday upon hearing he would be passed over for a starting opportunity when Ryan decided to bench Mark Sanchez. Tebow was disappointed and upset enough to say he didn't want to be used situationally, sources said. He told the Jets coaches early in the week, giving Kerley time to take the practice reps. Soon reports emerged speculating the backup was looking to play outside of New York next season.
In the postgame news conference, Tebow was asked who told him he wouldn't be playing in the Wildcat and Tebow responded, "It just kind of happens."
Ryan said during his news conference that they wanted to use Kerley because of the element of surprise. Afterward Ryan, through a team spokesman, said it was a "coach's decision" when asked specifically if Tebow had opted out.
The Jets had all three quarterbacks active for the Chargers game for the first time all season. Tebow did not play a single snap either as a punt protector or on offense. He was active, according to a source, in case McElroy was hurt. Jets coaches didn't want to play Sanchez at home, wary of possible fan reaction.
"I also wanted to give Kerley a shot at running some Wildcat things," Ryan said. "We knew they wouldn't expect him to throw the ball, and that was the case."
Tebow was Sanchez's backup all season, and was inactive with two fractured ribs during the Cardinals game on Dec. 2 when Sanchez threw three interceptions and was replaced by McElroy. The second-year quarterback out of Alabama threw a touchdown pass and the Jets won 7-6.
Tebow was frustrated that he'd missed that opportunity as well.
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Rich Cimini and Jane McManus