Mark Sanchez Proving He Can Win in Nick Foles' Absence

Andrew Kulp@@KulpSaysContributor INovember 24, 2014

Philadelphia Eagles' Mark Sanchez passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Michael Perez/Associated Press

Coming off the heels of an impressive training camp and preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles, the hope was Mark Sanchez might finally live up to his promise as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 draft.

Three-and-a-half games into his tenure as the Birds' starting quarterback, Sanchez appears far from becoming the franchise player the New York Jets once hoped.

Then again, the only numbers that truly matter are three and one: Philadelphia’s record in games Sanchez has played.

Mark Sanchez vs. Titans
CMP%YDSAVGTD/INTRATING
69.83077.11/278.3
Source: NFL.com

It hasn’t been pretty at times. Sanchez tossed two more interceptions during the Eagles’ 43-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans, bringing his total number of turnovers to eight in 2014 in just 15 quarters of action—far too many for comfort.

Yet Philly was victorious again for the second time in Sanchez’s three starts and third since the understudy took over for Nick Foles back in the second quarter in Week 9. If nothing else, it would appear the Eagles can continue to win some games this way.

Sanchez piqued interest around the NFL with the way he played in exhibition games this summer, completing 80 percent of his passes against second- and third-string defenses. It made fans and so-called experts alike wonder if a labeled and notarized bust could shed such talk in a new offense.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

The jury is still out on the reinvented Sanchez, but if nothing else, the Eagles are benefiting from having an experienced backup under center.

On Sunday, Sanchez’s errors gave life to a Tennessee squad that otherwise would’ve been excused for not getting off the plane. Forgiving a couple of picks, though, the sixth-year veteran completed 30 of 43 passes for 307 yards and a score—hardly a line to be ashamed of.

Let’s not forget: For as bad as his time in New York was, Sanchez won plenty of games—more than he lost, as long as we’re getting into specifics.

We can make plenty of excuses for Sanchez’s time with the Jets—poor surrounding cast, bad coaching—yet the simple fact of the matter is he was a turnover machine. Eighty-nine turnovers in 62 regular-season starts more of less tells the story there.

That being said, Sanchez managed a 37-31 record as the starter in New York, including 4-2 in the playoffs. It’s not as if the guy was completely incompetent.

Now he has 8-3 Philadelphia on track for postseason football despite maybe not lighting the stat sheet on fire.

Mark Sanchez Jets vs. Eagles
CMP%AVGRATINGW-L
Eagles55.18.171.72-1
Jets62.36.586.833-29
Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com

As long as we’re being honest, any expectation Sanchez would completely turn his career around in Philadelphia was probably unfair. Then again, all excuses aside, it’s on the passer to protect the football, something this particular signal-caller has never been particularly great at.

Prior to 2014, Sanchez was charged with 89 turnovers in 62 regular-season games with the Jets.

In roughly 15 quarters of action as a member of the Eagles, Sanchez is already on the hook for eight giveaways.

Philadelphia has come out on the winning end of three of four games Sanchez has appeared in thus far.

Is this the long-term answer under center? Likely not based on what we’ve seen thus far. As long as we’re being honest, what we’ve seen could actually be worse, with several Sanchez-esque fumbles and interceptions not coming back to cost the Eagles the way they did his previous team.

As backups go, it’s hard to complain about what Sanchez has give the Eagles thus far, which is Ws in the standings. Folks expecting more might be disappointed, but Philadelphia’s record just improved to 8-3 on Sunday, despite critiques of the quarterback’s performance.

If nothing else, Sanchez appears capable of handling the load until Foles comes back, which is all anybody could ask really—and in fairness may be all Sanchez is capable of.

The Eagles may have defeated an inferior opponent on Sunday, but to their credit, they did it with a backup quarterback. He may not be meeting some of the loftier expectations, but Sanchez certainly is getting the job done.

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