Sanchez relaxed, unburdened before Eagles debut

Sanchez relaxed, unburdened before Eagles debut

Eagles-Bears: Who to watch for

August 8, 2014, 9:45 am
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Mark Sanchez will play with the second team in the Eagles' preseason opener vs. Chicago on Friday night. (AP)

He’s hardly nervous. Then again, why should he be?

Since being drafted fifth overall in 2013 by the Jets, Mark Sanchez has played in two AFC Championships, missed the playoffs two straight seasons, been ripped apart by New York fans and media, suffered national humiliation because of a fumble, lost his starting job, got injured in a preseason game he wasn’t supposed to play in and been released.

Oh, and somewhere in there he actually spent a year teaming with Tim Tebow.

Really, there isn’t anything Sanchez hasn’t lived through in his NFL career.

Which is why he isn’t feeling butterflies about Friday’s preseason opener against the Bears. He’s expected to get in early, with the second-team offense. It’s been almost a year since he last played in any kind of NFL game, but he’s not worried.

It’s just another game.

“It’s gonna be great,” he said Wednesday. “I thought I’d be a lot more nervous, but I’ve done it before. I’ve played before. I’ve started games. I’ve had a lot of experience in this league. There’s nothing really too crazy that I haven’t seen, whether it’s an injury, whether it’s a playoff game, whether it’s getting your butt kicked on a Monday Night Football game. It’s all happened. I’ve seen it all.”

Sanchez’s goals for his Eagles debut are simple.

“Move the ball down the field, hopefully score some touchdowns, get a bunch of positive plays,” he said. “You know, make sure I’m taking the proper footwork, making the right checks, getting the signals ... basically running the show on the field. Once you’re on the field you’re like the coach out there.”

It’s been a controversy-free camp for Sanchez, who had become a daily soap opera for the New York tabloids in his last years with the Jets, none more sordid than his final game in a Jets uniform. Coach Rex Ryan decided to insert Sanchez into a preseason game against the Giants in the fourth quarter after Geno Smith had been picked off twice.

Behind a second-string offensive line, Sanchez, who wasn’t even expecting to play, got battered. Giants tackle Marvin Austin leveled the quarterback so hard that Sanchez suffered a torn labrum that would require season-ending surgery and end his Jets career.

Since signing with the Eagles, Sanchez has quietly gone about his business, learning a new offense and acclimating to new teammates. He’s not competing to start, so the spotlight around him has faded.

“It was just a different experience,” Sanchez said about his past preseasons with the Jets. “A lot of media attention, going through a lot of turnover, whether it’s coaching -- offensive coordinator-wise, we went through three in the last three years. So it was a little different. This has been great. It’s been a good experience. I’m really enjoying the players. The coaches do a great job. I like the flow of practice. I like the pace. So it’s all good.”

Sanchez said people can expect to see a different quarterback than the one who finished with 13 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and a 66.7 passer rating in 2012.

He’s been practicing in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense, exclusively running with the second team, and his confidence hasn’t wavered.

“It feels like we’ve been doing it for such a while now, playing against another team hopefully is just going to make things easier, make it a little different,” he said. “Hopefully, see a couple of different looks and change things up, but I expect things to go well. I always do. I’m optimistic. I think we’ve got a pretty good group.”

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