Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mark Sanchez reborn?

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez, formerly of the New York Jets, has been the subject of various levels of commentary, particularly striking between the chasm of white and black commentating. White commentators are generally less derogatory than black commentators like Chris Carter and Braylon Edwards, who recently used terms like “coddled,” “babied,” “a boy” and was not allowed to “grow up.” Sanchez certainly wasn’t sufficiently prepared by the Jets to become a starting quarterback, but he showed sufficient talent to lead the team to two AFC title games, posting a 4-2 playoff record—all on the road—and winning over the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. In fact, Sanchez seemed to thrive under playoff pressure; his playoff quarterback rating is one of the highest in NFL history.

Yet like Tony Romo, certain people—especially every day fans—have this need to belittle him, and often one gets the impression that there is something more than just “football” being the basis of their complaint; one wonders if this has something to do with the belief that football is an “American” game, and such as the likes of them could only be in their position by some unnatural design. Most NFL teams are predominantly—or like the Seattle Seahawks almost wholly so—black. I have already spoken of how the position of quarterback has become almost politicized in some quarters, often ignoring faults—or refusing to admit them (see the Jets and Geno Smith).

In his first start since 2012, Sanchez had an opportunity to at least muffle some of the demeaning commentary with a 332-yard, 2 TD and no turnover performance against Carolina. The Eagles gained only 37 yards rushing on 23 carries, and this was a game in which the passing game had to carry the offense, and Sanchez did (at least for him) an outstanding job in doing so. Of course there will be those detractors who will point to the fact that he has a lot of “weapons,” but how often have we heard the lack of them being an “excuse” to explain the play of other quarterbacks of lesser passing ability?

The next “test” to see if playing for the Jets was more the problem than his own “failures” will be next week at Green Bay. Of course I want the Packers to win, but if Sanchez plays well enough to make a game of it I’m not going to quibble. If he does play well and move the offense efficiently who knows where that may lead. Given that Nick Foles has had a significant decline in performance since last season (an almost 40-point drop in passer rating, 10 interceptions), a few, like John Breech of CBS Sports, have suggested that Sanchez could play himself into a permanent starting position.

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