Every year there are a handful of Lazarus missions that feature athletes whose careers are left six—no seven feet under digging themselves out from beneath the dirt and walking amongst the living.
Mike Vick is one of them. He's on his third reincarnation. The man he replaced suffocated in the depressurized Jets pocket traded places with Vick and has been resurrected.
Mark Sanchez has not only risen, he’s floating in the gridiron firmament after a gaudy Monday Night performance. The gatekeeper St. Chip Kelly is a quarterback coaching prodigy. Instead of turning water into wine, the Eagles offensive mastermind morphs broken shards into exquisite masterpieces.
Sanchez was jettisoned from New York as a damaged, shell of a pro signal caller. The doctors repaired the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder during garbage time of the Jets 2013 preseason finale. Kelly mended Sanchez's psyche, which had been perforated worse than Detroit's fictional cop Alex Murphy's meat suit.
Sanchez’s performance said less about Chip Kelly and the Eagles offense than it does about the New Rex Jets.
The five yards behind the center in a Jets offense is a hot zone. Avoid contact at all costs and anyone that does remain in the GangGreen pocket is more likely to get burned. It only took a year and a half for Geno Smith to sublimate into a million particles and Mike Vick has fumbled five times in three weeks before catching fire against the Steelers.
To get a better perspective on how poorly developed Mark Sanchez was in New York, one doesn’t need to peek at the depth chart. But we will. Sanchez’s top receivers during his penultimate season in the Big Apple were Jeremy Kerley, Dustin Keller, Chaz Chilens, Stephen Hill and Jeff Cumberland were the leading receivers. Santonio Holmes was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury in Week 4.
The New York Jets’ ineptitude was encapsulated by the red-yellow-green system implemented by Rex Ryan.
Each color indicated by Ryan how cautious Sanchez should be on a given play. Red for cautious, Green for aggressive and yellow for somewhere in between.
The Eagles innovative offense is a quadratic equation in comparison to the simple multiplication that was the Jets ground-and-pound scheme.
In seven quarters since Nick Foles cracked his collarbone, Sanchez has turned Philly trepidation into jubilation.
For the ninth time in his career and the first time since the ButtFumble Game, Sanchez eclipsed 300 yards passing.
It was the first 300 yard, multiple touchdown pass game sans turnovers in his career.
It was also the lowest QBR for a quarterback facing Carolina since Matt Stafford posted a 72.5 rating in a Week 2 win.
Sanchez was masterful, but it’s too small of a sample size to make any grand judgments.
These Panthers are Meow Mix on the defensive end. The ferocious defense that ranked second in scoring defense last season is a harmless kitten compared to the hunters that preyed on opposing offenses from atop the food chain in 2013.
The Eagles defense has been the carnivorous species in 2014 and the offense has yielded the benefits. The Eagles ranks fourth in defensive efficiency in 2014, have a takeaway in 21 consecutive games, the NFL's longest-active streak, accumulate more sacks than any team not based in Buffalo and have scored a league-high four touchdowns.
Kirk Cousins looked like the next coming of Tom Brady for about the first two weeks. Then reality hit. By Week 8, he’d been benched for third stringer Colt McCoy.
For Sanchez, this is his best opportunity to revitalize his dormant career after he’d become radioactive waste in the Meadowlands. However, Sanchez has at least six more weeks of football while Nick Foles heals to show he can remain consistent instead of a flash in the pan.
A Chip Kelly quarterback is the equivalent to a Mike Shanahan running back. The hive system built by Kelly is as efficient as any offensive scheme in the league. His players are the closest things to cybernetic organisms that simply carry out the orders of their brilliant mad scientist.
Sanchez may not be the Sanchize he was propped up to be in New York, but he’s a vital, yet replaceable cog in the Jets machine.