Mark Sanchez Was the Best Backup QB Option the Eagles Could Have Hoped for

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 27, 2014

USA Today

Michael Vick was absolutely the ideal option to back up Nick Foles in the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive backfield in 2014. Vick is experienced, incredibly difficult to defend and has more talent than at least a handful of current NFL starters.

However, circumstances beyond Philly or Vick's control—his desire to start and the lack of a starting opportunity with the Eaglesled to his departure from the team.

Philadelphia's job was to find the best available quarterback willing to accept the backup role.

Therefore, it's encouraging that Mark Sanchez became yet another fulfilled best-case scenario in a Philadelphia offseason that has been close to perfect at every turn. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that Sanchez agreed to terms with the team on Thursday.

Need experience? Sanchez has got it. Five seasons, 62 starts, four playoff victories and two trips to the AFC Championship Game.

Need fundamentals? Same deal. Sanchez is relatively accuratemore accurate, at least, than the numbers indicateand has a quick release. Those are two attributes which take precedent when you're looking for a game manager rather than a franchise leader.

Sanchez is no longer "the Sanchize." He's not the type of quarterback you build a team around. With that said, he's got the raw talent as well as the experience to hold things down, which is all you can ask for from your QB2.

It's nearly impossible to win in this league in this day and age without a reliable starting quarterback. So when you're forced to temporarily switch to your backup quarterback, it's about survival.

Sanchez has the tools to help the Eagles survive in a pinch and Philly has the offensive weapons to keep its head above water during a short stretch with the former No. 5 overall pick.

Average time in pocket before throw, 2013
QuarterbackTime to releaseRank out of 40Sack %
Nick Foles2.88 seconds38th8.1
Michael Vick2.77 seconds34th9.6
Mark Sanchez (2012)2.59 seconds20th7.0
Pro Football Focus

Again, on paper, he's been a mess over the last few years. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) indicates that he had the league's lowest accuracy percentage among qualifying quarterbacks in 2012 and was either ranked last or second-last in that category during all four seasons in which he was New York's starting quarterback.

But that wasn't a healthy environment and he wasn't getting much support there.

There's no pressure in Philly. The expectations aren't there. And who better to help revitalize his career than Chip Kelly? Sanchez is only 27, which is young in quarterback terms, and now he'll have the time to work on his game and adjust to a quarterback-friendly playbook in a much more comfortable environment.

Remember, there are only beggars and no choosers on the backup quarterback market. Far too many teams lack strong starting quarterbacks for anybody to think they should be able to find a backup who doesn't have some obvious flaws. If he didn't, he wouldn't be a backup.

Is Sanchez prone to turnovers? Hell yeah, but so was Vick.

"I think Mark's a very, very good athlete," Kelly told reporters this week. "He's started [62] games in this league. He's got great experience. There's a lot of positive qualities to him."

What this really comes down to is that Sanchez was the best choice at the moment. With Vick gone and Josh McCown gaining a shot at a starting job in Tampa Bay, Sanchez became the best available quarterback on a market that contained him, Josh Freeman and Matt Flynn.

Freeman's been dumped by two teams in the last six months and Flynn has been on four different rosters in the last 12 months.

Sanchez made the most sense. Now the Eagles can hope they never need him anyway.