X

Mark Sanchez More Than Just Product of Chip Kelly's System

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41NFL National Lead WriterNovember 14, 2014

Eric Hartline/USA Today

Coaches in the NFL can facilitate production on the field given their ability to teach technique and discipline within a particular scheme while putting their players in a position to succeed.

But that scheme, or system, only works when the players execute on game days.

I think Chip Kelly is a heck of a coach. I really do. And he has proved over the last season-and-a-half that he can win in the NFL with a system that creates an enormous amount of stress for opposing defenses.

Turn on the Philadelphia Eagles' tape and look at the tempo, the multiple formations, play-action, packaged plays, zone schemes and pro-level route concepts that challenge the secondary.

It’s a great system, a unique system that fits today's league.

And his guys play fast.

But you can't just throw any hack in there at quarterback and expect to see touchdowns and big plays with high-fives all over the field.

That's why I'm not buying the narrative out there this week that Mark Sanchez is just another product of Kelly's offense after the former Jets quarterback threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Mark Sanchez #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles talks to head coach Chip Kelly after the first drive ended in a field goal attempt against the Carolina Panthers on November 10, 2014 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pe
Elsa/Getty Images

The Eagles game plan versus the Panthers was scripted to beat Cover 1 or man coverage. Again, that's smart coaching from Kelly with the Panthers dropping a safety down to limit the Eagles run game the majority of the night.

This allowed the Eagles to run man-coverage beaters with tight ends and receivers working away from leverage on crossing routes, boot action, seam routes, etc.

But Sanchez still had to identify the matchups, work through his progressions, play with technique in the pocket and put the ball on the proper shoulder so his receivers could produce versus both man and zone coverages.

Here's a quick example with the Panthers playing a quarters/matchup technique versus the spot route, a 7 (corner)-curl-flat combo that has been around for decades. All the Eagles do here is widen the splits to dress it up with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin running the backside dig.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

However, with the Panthers buzzing a defender to the flat and linebacker Luke Kuechly pushing to the curl (or the "spot"), Sanchez has to come off his read and work all the way back to Maclin.

Take a look at the play from the end-zone angle with Sanchez forced to come off his primary targets because of the Panthers matching to the underneath receivers (with a bracket over the top).

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Sanchez slides in the pocket to avoid the pressure and finds Maclin when the receiver converts the dig into a curl.

That's playing football. Nothing more. A quarterback making a play to find his third (or fourth) read in the progression while keeping his eyes up.

Here's another one on the "sail" route, with the Eagles clearing out the top of the secondary and the tight end working across the formation versus man coverage.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

This might be my favorite play from the tape, with Sanchez showing his ability to move in the pocket while Kuechly blitzes through the A-gap. That's a free runner at the quarterback.

Sanchez avoids the linebacker, re-sets his feet and delivers this ball to the upfield shoulder with the defender playing from an outside leverage position.

Sanchez did a very good job of managing the pocket and finding his targets—especially rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews. That's where Sanchez worked the Hi-Lo concepts, angle (or H-Post) route, fade (switch release) and the intermediate crosser off the boot.

Sanchez had some misses on the tape too. He wasn't perfect, and there are always screen passes built into Kelly's game plan that are going to boost up that stat column for the quarterback at the end of the night.

Plus, the Panthers aren't playing defense like the '85 Bears out there right now. That's a secondary you can go after a little bit. The competition will increase in the coming weeks for Sanchez, as will the opportunities to hold on to the No. 1 job in Philly.

Nov 10, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) celebrates at the end of the game against the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

But when I study this tape, I see a lot of positives with Sanchez that go beyond what is installed in the game plan or drawn up on a chalkboard throughout the week of practice.

As I said above, this is a unique system under Kelly that caters to the quarterback position in the modern game we watch today. And the Eagles head coach knows how to game-plan an opponent to create opportunities for his players.

However, in my opinion, Monday night was more about Sanchez's ability to execute (within that scheme), manage the pocket and make the necessary throws to score points.

Remember, a scheme only gets you so far in this league. Players have to produce if you want to win games.

Seven-year NFL veteran Matt Bowen is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.


🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.