During last Sunday’s game, Philadelphia Eagles fans took a collective gasp when Nick Foles went down heavily under the weight of Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus. But in this case the gasp was hardly accompanied by dread for a season lost to an irreplaceable cog in the football team’s fast break offense. Truth be told, a lot of Eagles fans were becoming a bit jaded with Foles’ performance over the first half of the season.
Personally, I do not understand that sense of dissatisfaction with a quarterback who has been central to the growing success of Chip Kelly‘s high octane offensive scheme. In this Nick Foles seems to be the victim of his own success.
So too are those cynical fans …
But of course the local sports media immediately turned Mark Sanchez‘s re-appearance into a quarterback controversy! And they do so for a team that stands 7-2 and atop the NFC East!
Foles enjoyed an almost flawless season in 2013, throwing for 2900 yards, 27 TDs, and just 2 Interceptions. Those are not superhuman numbers; but it was that last data point … just 2 INTs (317 pass attempts) that really paved the way for this season’s excessively high expectations for Foles 2nd season.
And yet, even I have to admit, Mark Sanchez piqued my interest in the pre-season. He was acquired as a free agent after being dumped by the Superbowl-bound New York Jets …
(Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention!)
You had to like what you saw of Sanchez in those pre-season games, if you bothered to watch. Quick reads, sound decisions, strong and accurate arm … He seemed extremely comfortable in Kelly’s fast paced offensive system. The first question that came to mind then was, “Just how bad are the New York Jets?”
Questioned answered …
Sanchez for his own part stepped in last Sunday against the Texans and performed admirably. But face it, Sanchez stepped into a good situation with an offensive line finally stabilized for better protection and an improved running game to boot.
Foles spent the first half of the season playing behind a patched-up offensive line, beset by an early season injuries. If you pay attention to offensive line play, you could see how the O-line struggled against the pass rush; could not provide a suitable pocket for Foles to step into and throw; and how often Foles was forced to throw passes off his back foot.
The poor throwing posture and mechanics caused many of Foles’ problems. And of course, Foles threw some passes a bit early due to the constant pressure and resulting hits.
In one of Foles’ better games against those New York Football Giants (also not Superbowl-bound), he enjoyed the benefits of an improved O-line, with the return of Lane Johnson; was able to step into many of his throws; and played much better as a result.
No mystery there …
Regardless, any team that relies so heavily on QB performance (and what team does not?) is in a much stronger position having two players who can be plug-and-play ready.
The one factoid to keep in mind is that for all our Monday morning quarterbacking and opining about who should be playing QB for the Birds, Sanchez signed a one-year deal … the product of his miserable Jets exit and Sanchez’s desire to get a second chance at being The Top Guy. Regardless of what happens this season, Sanchez could very well take whatever success he may have and move on to a QB-desperate team next season!
Or maybe Sanchez will not be as successful over the long term as he has looked so far.
The good news is that the Eagles seem to have found a great second option at QB in Sanchez. It’s a “problem” of the best kind for the Philadelphia Eagles!
UPDATE: Very interesting article in The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning about how Chip Kelly and Mark Sanchez crossed paths very early in Sanchez’s football career. Coincidences like this are often hard to shake off. Will Fate play a role in how this plays out?