Will Nick Foles Regain Starting Job When Healthy?

The Philadelphia Eagles lost Michael Vick to free agency last offseason, and wasted no time signing former New York Jets starter Mark Sanchez as a safety-valve should starter Nick Foles go down. Eight weeks into the 2014 season, that gamble paid off.

Two gunslingers who closely resemble the stars of the 2004 comedy Napoleon Dynamite now find themselves in the midst of a quarterback controversy second only to the Brian Hoyer/Johnny Manziel debate in evoking public emotion. With Foles set for an X-Ray in the coming weeks that will indicate what his return date might be, Sanchez must either step up, or step down as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

While Foles’ 2013 season turned heads as he set he league record for touchdown to interception ratio, 2014 has not have the same sheen for the second-year starter. In eight games this season, Foles has tossed 2,163 yards with a completion rate of 59.8 percent. Yet, the Jon Heder lookalike left much to be desired regarding his carelessness with the football tossing 10 interceptions with only 13 touchdown passes. Both Foles’ completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio are down from his career averages of 61.6% and 46-17 respectively, leading many to believe last season was a fluke.

Enter Pedro. Sanchez has a opportunity to regain the fame and fortune he was on the verge of earning while starting 65 games for the New York Jets. During that time the Jets were 35-30, and Sanchez completed passes 55.6% of the time. However, the problems with Sanchez remains the same as it was in his tenure as a Jet, turnovers and pocket awareness. Yes Sanchez has passed for over 290 yards in each of his five appearances, the true tale of the tape must be examined in more detail as there is more to being a successful quarterback in this league than putting up nice numbers. Just ask former Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb.

For his career, Mark Sanchez has an equal amount of touchdowns and interceptions with 75. This season, the Efren Ramirez doppelganger  is close to his career  pace in this category with eight touchdowns matched by six interceptions. To make matters worse in terms of taking care of the rock, Sanchez also was in the top 20 in fumbles each of his first four seasons in the league, and already has six fumbles this season.

While ball security is a major issue, pocket presence has been another hurdle Sanchez has struggled to climb. Nick Foles was sacked nine times in his eight games this season behind an offensive line that looked more like an episode of M.A.S.H. than the Pro Bowl-caliber unit it was a season ago. Sanchez on the other hand, has been sacked nine times in his five appearances this season, signifying a distinct drop off in pocket awareness from one quarterback to the other.

While Nick Foles is far from the franchise quarterback many expected him to become after his record-breaking 2013 season, it is perfectly clear who the starting quarterback in Philadelphia should be when health is no longer a factor. Sanchez has 12 turnovers and has been sacked nine times in five games, and simply does not have the upside Foles brings to the Eagles offense. Sanchez had enough time on a contending team in New York to show his true colors whereas Foles has yet to play a full 16 game slate. The bottom line is clear, Sanchez does not possess any sort of ball security or pocket presence, especially under pressure, and thus should be considered as nothing more than an above-average backup at the professional level despite his recent successes as a part of Chip Kelly’s offense.

Photo: NY Daily News