Mark Sanchez imperils Philadelphia’s playoff hopes

In his first NFL start in more than a year, Mark Sanchez came out with guns blazing. On his 28th birthday, Sanchez rose from the turmoil of his now-infamous “butt fumble” to shell the Carolina Panthers for 332 yards and two touchdowns en route to a resounding 45-21 victory.

This past Sunday, Sanchez came crashing back to Earth, and reminded everybody that he is still the same butt-fumbling Mark Sanchez.

The game against Carolina was indeed impressive, but anybody who thought that Sanchez was anything more than a mistake-prone backup was wrong. Known colloquially as the “Legion of Whom,” the Panthers secondary is entirely void of talent. It consists of mostly over-the-hill free-agency pickups: Antoine Cason, Thomas DeCoud, and Roman Harper. Results like those enjoyed by Sanchez are the norm for quarterbacks facing the Panthers. Therefore, it only makes sense that, against a defense with even marginal talent, Sanchez revealed his true colors.

Against the Packers, Sanchez was responsible for four turnovers, two of which resulted in Packers touchdowns. He threw 44 passes, completing 26 of them (59.1 percent), and routinely missed open receivers. He was also sacked three times.

Neither the sacks, nor the loss in its entirety, were all Sanchez’s fault. It was a complete team loss for the Eagles, but the replacement of injured Nick Foles with Mark Sanchez is not helping the Eagles’ situation.

It is true that Foles had not been playing all that well before getting injured. He was responsible for 10 picks of his own before breaking his clavicle against Houston, but he was winning games, and that is the most important thing. His team believed in him, and, the turnovers notwithstanding, he had never been embarrassed as badly as Sanchez was against Green Bay.

While Foles has one stellar year as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Sanchez has game-managed his way to two AFC Championship appearances with New York’s lauded defenses of yesteryear, and played terribly for the better part of his career with the Jets. He came out of New York with 69 interceptions and 26 fumbles in four years (68 touchdowns). Sanchez’s lack of success was no secret, and therefore it is difficult to understand why Eagles brass sought his services in free agency.

Nevertheless, Sanchez is Philadelphia’s starting quarterback now, and it is up to him to keep the 7-3 Eagles alive in the NFC postseason race until Foles can return in week 17 at the earliest. In the meantime, Philadelphia has two matchups with the NFC East-leading Cowboys on the horizon. Additionally, they will have to host the Seattle Seahawks in what could likely be a decisive factor in the NFC Wild Card race.

If Philadelphia cannot win the NFC East, they will be most likely embroiled in a savage battle with Seattle, San Francisco, and either Green Bay or Detroit for the two NFC wild card playoff spots. If Sanchez plays anything like he has for most of his career, the Eagles are at a supreme disadvantage.

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