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On Top Of Game, Sanchez Ready At QB

Posted Jul 11, 2015

Measured purely in football terms, Mark Sanchez says, the comparison from last season to now doesn’t even calculate. Two thousand and fourteen was a chance to get back into the game and on the field after some rough times in New York. Two thousand and fifteen could be the platform for the best football of his career …

Measured purely in football terms, Mark Sanchez says, the comparison from last season to now doesn’t even calculate. Two thousand and fourteen was a chance to get back into the game and on the field after some rough times in New York. Two thousand and fifteen could be the platform for the best football of his career.

That’s the way Sanchez looks at things in his second season as an Eagle. He completed a strong offseason at the NovaCare Complex and then headed out to California, did some traveling, enjoyed family and friends, and is back at work preparing for Training Camp and the chance to provide the coaching staff quality play as a backup to starting quarterback Sam Bradford and, in truth as Sanchez sees it, compete with Bradford for the No. 1 job.

“When I first came here (the Eagles signed Sanchez as an unrestricted free agent in March of 2014) it took me a couple of weeks to feel part of the team, to feel entrenched here and to understand what they wanted from me,” he said. “All of the sports science stuff, for example, was foreign to me. The scheme was different. The guys in the locker room were first-time teammates.

“Coming back now, it’s totally different. There is no catch-up period. I actually feel I had a jump on things preparing for the offseason program and the conditioning. As far as the scheme and relationship with players and the trust, that’s only going to grow over time. That’s only gotten better. I feel like I’m anticipating calls, I’m anticipating situations, getting the ball out on time, I feel good. I feel right with the language and all of that. It’s real good. I’m much better.”

The coaching staff evaluates every training session and charts every throw and keeps the data and processes the information, and Sanchez said he had maybe the best on-field work he’s ever had in the spring. The shoulder injury Sanchez suffered in the preseason of the 2013 season while with the Jets is completely healed and he is throwing the football with more velocity now. All of the drama from those last couple of years with the Jets is long gone.

Sanchez is in a good place, and his play on the field in the spring was encouraging.

“I feel like I put together a good camp,” he said.

So now what for Sanchez, who is part of the NFL’s most interesting quarterback picture? There are 44 days from the time the players step on the field on August 2 for the first Training Camp session until the regular season opens in Atlanta on September 14. Bradford has not yet taken a snap in an 11-on-11 situation, although he has said, as has head coach Chip Kelly, that Bradford ‘s return from consecutive torn ACL’s in his left knee is positive and that the quarterback obtained in a trade on March 10 from St. Louis should accelerate his on-field action in August.

Sanchez intends to compete and show the coaching staff that he can start and play good football and lead the Eagles to victories. His mindset is not one to step aside for Bradford. May the best man win, right?

The truth is, that’s what it comes down to. And if Sanchez can go out and have a brilliant Training Camp and preseason, he’ll give the coaching staff something more to think about. That’s a good thing. A very good thing.

“You’ve got to be the best guy to win the job. The best guy plays,” Sanchez said. “That means move the team down the field, get points, get completions, do the right thing in the right situations, throw the ball away when you have to, take care of the football. All of those things that go with being a starter.

“I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again. I’m going to put my best out there and see what happens. That’s all I can do. Be the best I can be.”

Sanchez had his moments stepping in as the starting quarterback last season when Nick Foles, who was traded to the Rams in the Bradford deal, suffered a 2014-ending broken collarbone in Houston in Game 8. Sanchez came on to help the Eagles beat the Texans and in his eight starts won four games. It wasn’t enough, though to get the Eagles into the postseason. And while Sanchez completed 64 percent of his passes and posted some strong numbers, he also had some mistakes that he studied and vowed to correct throughout this offseason.

“Can’t make those mistakes. It’s one thing to say it, but you have to go out and be careful with the football,” he said. “We’re going to have plenty of chances to put points on the board here. I have to be smart and have great ball security when I’m the field. It’s something I think about and something II work on every day.”

Retaining Sanchez – who signed a two-year contract to remain in Philadelphia – was a large priority for the Eagles entering free agency. He is a starting-caliber quarterback who at the very least provides the team with perhaps the best backup situation in the NFL. How many other potential backups have been to two conference championship games, as Sanchez has when he led the Jets to successive AFC title game appearances in his first two seasons? And if Sanchez earns the starting job, then so be it. He will have won it because, in fact, he earned it.

“That’s my thought process,” Sanchez said. “I’m looking forward to camp opening and putting my best game forward. That’s what I’m going to do and, after that, we’ll see what happens.”

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