Sanchez's Star on the Rise

You’re probably feeling a little guilty right now. You never want to see one of your own players get hurt, especially a nice, sincere young man like Nick Foles. But, deep down, you’re glad, too, because you’ve lost a lot of faith in Foles and now, who knows? Foles’ injury and the ascension of Mark Sanchez to the Eagles’ starting quarterback position could be the best thing to happen to this team since Michael Vick’s injury and the ascension of Foles last year.

Last year … That’s when Foles had the highest passer rating in the NFL, even higher than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. This year, Foles struggled at times – and also shined at times – and even though he mostly won, there was a growing doubt among Eagles fans as to whether Foles was indeed their QB of the future.

As much as it pains you, you have to admit that you’re no longer infatuated with Foles. Maybe you didn’t jump completely on-board after Foles’ amazing season in 2013, but you still thought there was a chance – maybe even a good chance – that he would be the Eagles franchise player, and not just as an athlete, but also as a role model. Foles is an aw-shucks kind of guy who is modest and hard-working and team-oriented, just the kind of young man you want to lead your team – or marry your daughter (especially if he can get you good seats for the games).

It came to you slowly, this realization that Foles is not the franchise quarterback of your dreams. He struggled some early, but he also made some big plays that won games. And you kept remembering that magical 2013 season, when Foles threw 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.

But then Foles started making some bad decisions and started turning the ball over, and it wasn’t just the number of turnovers, it was the timing of them. The Eagles were winning most of their games, but you still had this bad feeling that you just couldn’t shake, and most of that feeling centered around the quarterback.

And then, just like that, it was over. Last week, Foles was slammed to the ground by Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus and fractured his collarbone and now his season is over — and perhaps his run as the Eagles starting quarterback is over, too. Foles could possibly return in six weeks, but by then Sanchez will have had an opportunity to show that he was worthy of being the fifth overall selection in the 2009 draft, and his final and flawed days with the Jets didn’t give a true picture of what he can do.

And don’t forget, Sanchez is only 27, so he’s just entering the prime of his career and he could play in the NFL for another decade. So, even though his focus is just on this week’s opponent, in the back of his mind Sanchez has to know that this is another opportunity to establish himself as a winning quarterback who can lead a team to a Super Bowl.

On Thursday, Eagles coach Chip Kelly took exception when a media member asked him about a report that he and his coaching staff were considering benching Foles in favor of Sanchez even before Foles was injured. That report was probably wishful thinking. And now, because of unforeseen circumstances, that wish is about to come true.

If nothing else, the rest of the Eagles’ season will be interesting to watch, and not just for this season – what happens the rest of the way will probably determine the direction the Eagles take next year and for several years after that. And for all we know, that direction could still include Nick Foles. If that happens, then you can feel guilty all over again for jumping off the Foles bandwagon even though it was still rolling along pretty well.

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