Sanchez Unable To Break Old Habits

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly said he didn’t spend much time studying Mark Sanchez‘s tape from New York, focusing instead on his skill set and physical attributes and relying more on the word of those who had been around him in a formal life.

“I talked to his college coaches more than I did that; I talked to his high school coaches and I knew what type of athlete he was and I knew what he could do,” he said earlier this month. “For me to study his tape from the New York Jets ‑‑ now I know other people studied his tape, but I personally didn’t study his tape because I know what he can do and I thought he could fit into our system.”

Sanchez had a sub-60 percent completion rate with the Jets. The Eagles felt that he could get closer to the level of accuracy he displayed at USC (64 percent), and sure enough, he has completed 64 percent of his throws in an Eagles uniform. There were elements of his game from New York that did carry over, though — namely, his propensity to turn the ball over.

In his eight appearances this season (seven starts), he has turned the ball over 13 times, including twice against Washington on Saturday.

The 28-year-old played an otherwise solid game, going 37-of-50 for 374 yards with a pair of touchdown tosses. He lost the ball on the Eagles’ first possession, as Ryan Kerrigan got around Lane Johnson on the outside and stripped the unsuspecting signal-caller. It was his seventh fumble of the season. The offense stabilized from there and the Eagles scored touchdowns on two of their next three possessions. He put the offense in position to score on six of its next eight drives overall, but a pair of field goal misses by Cody Parkey limited the efficiency rate.

“We moved the ball for 400 yards of offense, which was great. We got [Riley] Cooper rolling with two big touchdown catches, really good catches, especially the second one. Zach Ertz just went off (15 catches, 115 yards) and had such an awesome day. It’s just too bad that kind of stuff happens on a day that you lose.”

With all that went wrong Saturday, the Eagles had the ball late with a chance to win. The offense took over with 2:36 remaining and the game knotted at 24-24, and made its way to midfield thanks to four short completions to Ertz. But on third-and-four, Sanchez misfired on a pass over the middle to Jeremy Maclin, and it was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland. Six plays and three penalties later, Washington was booting the deciding field goal through the uprights.

“We got an all-out pressure,” said Sanchez. “I was trying to buy a little time and anticipate when Maclin was going to be there. I just kind of missed it so it was too bad because some guys had really good days and we just didn’t capitalize for the win.”

“I thought he played well in this game up until that turnover,” said Kelly. “The one where Kerrigan stripped him I don’t think he saw him coming around Lane but besides that I think he threw the ball well. But you can’t turn the ball over in a situation like that.”

The Eagles won in Houston on the day Sanchez replaced the injured Nick Foles and came out on top in three of his first four starts as well. In that respect, he proved to be a quality short-term solution. And the three losses since are not all on him by any means. But this is a quarterback league and the QB wasn’t quite good enough once December hit, mostly because of a turnover habit he could not break.

“You have to win games,” said Sanchez, who dropped to 3-4 as the starter. “The head coach and the quarterback, we are the only ones that keep a record, so it goes with the territory of this position.”