With week three of the NFL preseason completed, Chip Kelly has announced that he will be resting some starters and second-string players for the Philadelphia Eagles’ final preseason game on Thursday against the New York Jets.
Perhaps one of the more unexpected players remaining out of Thursday’s game is backup quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez has had a decent amount of success in the NFL including back-to-back trips to the AFC championship game in 2009 and 2010. However, his numbers were never anything particularly impressive. Sanchez has had two of his four years as a starter with more interceptions than touchdowns and passing yards above 3,000, all while never having a passer rating above 80. His best statistical year came in a season when the Jets finished 8-8.
After missing all of last season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, it was difficult to predict what type of player Sanchez was going to be in his first preseason games back. Yet, Sanchez has put all doubt to rest earning him a vote of confidence as the second-string quarterback.
In three games this preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles, Sanchez amassed 281 passing yards on 25/31 passing and a pair of touchdowns. His average passer rating over the three games totaled 103.8.
Though a small sample size, the overall look of Sanchez is enough to impress. He seems to have no trouble grasping the Chip Kelly offense and looks comfortable making throws with his surgically repaired shoulder.
The most impressive moment of the preseason for Sanchez came against the New England Patriots where there was an apparent malfunction with the earpiece in his helmet. Sanchez was rapping on his helmet indicating the problem. But he continued with the drive at the same rapid pace throwing a few more completions showing excellent poise. For a moment it seemed as though the offense wasn’t moving fast enough for Sanchez, which is a thought I would have never imagined.
Sanchez’s ability to quickly pick up the style of Chip Kelly’s offense and execute the way he has points to a level of comfort he may have been missing in New York. Sanchez needed a strong performance such as this preseason in order to help erase the infamous butt fumble and remind the NFL that he can play.
With the newfound success on the field, rumors began spreading about a trade for Sanchez to the St. Louis Rams after their starting quarterback Sam Bradford went down with an ACL tear in his left knee on Saturday night. Sanchez undoubtedly would draw a high return after his recent performances on the field, but the risk may be too great for the reward.
Having a sturdy backup is one of the most forgotten about elements of football needed for success. Only 17 teams last season maintained the same starting quarterback for all sixteen regular season games.
If the Eagles wanted to trade Sanchez it would be wise to do so while his value is high. Sanchez is only held on a 1-year contract limiting the time available to trade him for any return.
I would like to see the Eagles keep Sanchez as he has proven his ability to fit within the Eagles’ offense. He has six games of playoff experience in his short career, giving him leadership qualities should his number be called during the regular season. Besides, I think he looks better in an Eagle shade of green.