Mark Sanchez took Chip Kelly‘s offense out for a test drive Friday night and looked right at home at the controls.
It was his first game action since December of 2012. An injury to his throwing shoulder last preseason required surgery and sidelined him for the entire year. He was released by the Jets and quickly picked up by the Eagles this offseason, and got to work on learning a new system while continuing to rehab the arm. Given the circumstances, it’s noteworthy that he was able to perform at a pretty high level Friday night in Chicago.
He finished 7-of-10 for 79 yards (93.3 rating) and led a pair of touchdown drives.
“It felt great. It was really exciting. Just blessed to come back and feel 100 percent and get this whole thing rolling again,” said Sanchez. “Thank God for the opportunity. It was fun.”
“I thought Mark did a really nice job,” Chip Kelly added. “I was really impressed with the work he did in the second quarter. I thought he threw the ball on time, put the ball in there. He made a mistake on the one play at the goal line where he pulled it and then tried to throw it out. I think we were at the 1-yard line, but we got in the next play so it didn’t really come back to hurt us. But I thought he played calm. He had poise about him, put the ball on the money. The ball he threw to [Zach] Ertz down the middle I thought was a really well-timed throw. I was really happy with him.”
What really stood out was the speed and smoothness of the second-team offense with Sanchez under center. The six-year vet was making quick decisions and getting the ball out on time.
“I didn’t really think about, ‘What do I need to do?’ You just run the plays, let the offense take care of itself,” he said.
“It’s fun to play in. You feel like you’re on a fast break and you just have to get rid of the ball and let the other guys do the heavy lifting. You just catch, snap and roll.”
Sanchez has been practicing well and expected it to carry over to the game, which it did. On the flip side, Nick Foles hasn’t been as sharp as we’ve been accustomed to in recent days and struggled in limited action against the Bears.
“Look, it’s the first preseason game. I’m not worried one bit about Nick. The dude’s nails,” said Sanchez. “He’ll be fine, and he knows that. The ball got away from him a couple times but he knows how to battle through adversity, to push through stuff, and like I said, it’s the first preseason game. It’s no biggie.”
As Kelly has mentioned on multiple occasions, you need two good quarterbacks in this league. Chances are, the backup will be called on at some point. It’s too early to say that Sanchez will be the safety net the Eagles need should Foles go down, but this was an encouraging start.