BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 12/04/2014

Thiel: Eagles’ Sanchez key man for Seahawks

Seahawks; Carroll and Eagles QB Mark Sanchez once had a public disagreement while both were at USC. Seahawks defense hopes to have a disagreement with Sanchez.

Cut after four years with the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez has revived his career with Philadelphia. / Wiki Commons

One of the hooks upon which Pete Carroll’s detractors like to hang some contempt was his 2009 public disagreement about whether his quarterback, Mark Sanchez, should turn pro after his junior season at USC. Since Sanchez is quarterbacking the 9-3 Philadelphia Eagles, who host the Seahawks Sunday, the matter has come up for review.

The outcome: Sanchez still likes Carroll. Carroll still likes Sanchez. And by Sunday afternoon, one friend is going to be pissed at the other. Again. For a bit.

“I love Coach Carroll — always have and I always will,” said Sanchez in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “I think he’s one of the best, not just coaches, but people I’ve been around.”

Said Carroll: “We just had a difference of opinion. He was awesome for us. I was very close to his family at the time. I was representing an opinion that was coming out of the household. They could see reasons for him to stay. He was very determined.

“It had nothing to do with our relationship. I love Mark. He’s a great kid. I’m close to him, follow him and root for him.”

So much for trying to ignite another Jim Harbaugh-style rivalry from Carroll’s college past. The wood is too damp.

“We just disagreed and it became something that seemed bigger than it really was,” Sanchez said. “We just disagreed about one thing, and that’s OK. We disagreed about a lot of stuff over the years, and that’s fine. There were never any hard feelings.

“He never wished me ill will or hoped I’d play poorly. He just expressed his opinion. I made up my mind and knew what I wanted to do and that was it.”

In his sixth pro season, a final football judgment can’t be rendered on Sanchez’s decision, although financially it was a no-brainer.

Going pro early looked very wise early. The New York Jets traded up to take him fifth in the first round of the 2009 draft, one pick behind the Seahawks, who considered taking Sanchez to succeed Matt Hasselbeck. But then-GM Tim Ruskell opted for a can’t-miss linebacker from Wake Forest, Aaron Curry.

Ahem.

The Jets reached the AFC championship in each of the first two seasons with Sanchez as starter. He became only the second rookie QB in NFL history to win two playoff games.

But after a playoff record of 4-2 as a starter, his star began to fade. The Jets finished 8-8 and 6-9 in his starts the next two seasons. Sanchez (known  as “The Sanchize”), took much criticism.

In the 2013 preseason, the Jets put him in a game behind a second-string O-line. He injured his shoulder sufficiently to require surgery that ended his season. The Jets drafted QB Geno Smith and thought so little of Sanchez that they released him in March, signing instead ex-Eagles QB Michael Vick to back up Smith. That hasn’t worked so well for the 2-10 Jets.

The Eagles picked up Sanchez as cheap insurance for Nick Foles, the former University of Arizona quarterback who had come to be the darling of coach Chip Kelly’s innovative offense he adapted from his days as king of the Oregon Ducks empire.

But Foles broke his collarbone in week 9 against Houston. Sanchez jumped in and helped beat the Texans 31-21. Then on Monday Night Football in his first start since 2012, Sanchez threw for 332 yards and two TDs as the Eagles beat Carolina 45-21, the first of three wins in his four starts.

But Sanchez, 28, hasn’t faced a defense playing as well as Seattle’s, one that has succeeded before against the up-tempo style that Kelly loves, as well as against the read-option, which the Seahawks pick at every week in practice. The Seahawks’ goal is to slow the Eagles’ running game sufficiently to put the game in the hands of Carroll’s former star.

Via Carroll and via TV, Sanchez knows the Seahawks’ nature well. At a family gathering, he watched the Super Bowl.

“I remember in the first quarter, I looked at my dad when we were watching that game and said, ‘Dad, (the Seahawks) are going to blow the doors off of this game,’”  he said. “They might rout (the Broncos). It’s going to get ugly.

“Sure enough, my dad said, ‘No, they’re going to come back, it’s going to be a tight one down the stretch.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, man. They’re too excited, they’re too energetic, they’re having too much fun, and they’re too prepared — they’re just going to go bananas.’”

Bananas, they went. Bananas, they hope to go again. With two wins in five days over NFC West teams with questionable quarterbacking, the 8-4 Seahawks’ defense has rediscovered their power to pressure. Getting to Sanchez will be the matchup of the game.

However it turns out, it seems unlikely to dent the admiration Sanchez has for Carroll. In the Jan. 1, 2oo9, Rose  Bowl, Sanchez’s last game as a Trojan, he threw for 413 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-24 win over Penn State. He was the game’s MVP. What he remembers was a timeout at the sideline.

“Pete grabbed me and told to me to kind of take a second and step back and look around,” Sanchez said. “(He said) this is everything we talked about when we recruited you, is it not? Is this awesome or what? Is this one of the coolest things ever?’ I was in the middle of a drive, in the middle of a timeout, we’re trying to convert a third down and I’m like, ‘Coach, we have to go! Man, what are you talking about?’

“This guy is crazy, but that’s Pete. I mean, that’s the way he is. He truly enjoys it. He wants you to be successful and he loves to teach you how to do it. It was just so much fun.”

The Seahawks under Carroll know about fun stuff.  But the plan Sunday is to create some disagreement, again, between Carroll and Sanchez.


YourThoughts

  • RadioGuy

    FWIW, here is Sanchez’ stat line for this season: 111-for 175 (63.4% completion rate), 1404 yards, 8 TDs, 6 INTs, 6 fumbles, 89.3 rating over five games.

    More to the point, the Eagles have won 4 of those 5 games while averaging 34.4 points. Sanchez has been a difference maker in Philly and has to love playing under a competent offensive coach like Chip Kelly after being stuck under boorish Rex Ryan in NY.

    • Pixdawg13

      And what was the Eagles’ scoring avg with Foles? Hmmm. Slightly lower–but against better competition. Of those 4 wins in last 5, not the toughest group.

      Note the Eagles’ 3 losses. Green Bay, Arizona, and the Santa Clara 49ers. What’s those 3 teams’ record vs the Seahawks this year?

      • RadioGuy

        Yeah, you’re right. Sanchez has done nothing this year…he’s a punk. I stand corrected.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Well here’s to hoping he falls on his face against this inspired Seahawk Defense this weekend…Acc’d to your stats he is due for a bad game… like this sunday.

  • jafabian

    There’s times I think Sanchez is underrated, he certainly wasn’t appreciated while with the Jets despite his accomplishments. And then there’s times I think he’s overrated. Certainly hasn’t performed like a high draft pick. Agree that he hasn’t seen a defense like the Seahawks defense, at least in the AFC and the Eagles schedule this year has included the Cowboys, Titans, Texans and Panthers. At the very least the Legion will give him a rude awakening as long as they keep their focus.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      If they throw the same kind of intensity into it that they did in Santa Clara Sanchez will be just as rattled as the last QB was about 1 and a half Qrts into it….its so tough playing in the NFC West with stout defenses to deal with but it bodes well for play off time. Chances are we might see this Eagle team again so this is a stern test for the Defense. The Eagles are in the same situation we were last year undefeated(in our place)going into that Cardinal home game that we lost@subsequently finished 7~1. Rudman should do an article about how many teams finish 8~0 at home during the season. It has to be a few select clubs…We have a chance to derail that party for the Eagles and I think we will…. Heres to hexing Philly!No 7~0 means no 8~0. Beat these guys , Seattle!

  • notaboomer

    give me
    your dirty (sanchez) love

    like you might surrender
    to some seahawk in your dreams

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    I was just commenting on the Eagles in their quest to go 8~0 at home now with Sanchez at the wheel…which would require they beat Seattle this wknd.How important is winning at home?
    I looked back on every NFL Season since 2005 when the Hawks went 8~0@home and lost in the SB. These are the 8~0 Elite.
    2005~Seattle ,Denver.
    2006~Chargers.
    2007~Patriots.
    2008~Panthers.
    2009~Pats
    2010~Pats.
    2011~Ravens , Packers.
    2012~Seattle.
    2013~Pats ,Bengals, Saints.
    2014?
    As tough as it is to win an NFL game that’s quite an accomplishment for all of those teams.3 0f the SB winners for the above years were 7~1 including 2014Seattle(2010Packers and 2007 Giants).
    THIS YEAR at this point in the season 5 teams are 6~0 with a chance to go undefeated at Home…they are the Patriots ,Broncos , Cardinals , Packers and Eagles.
    Assuming we derail the Eagles chances at 8~0?And perhaps AZs chance at 8~0 when we meet them in Phoenix? There could still be 3 teams like last year which was the most in a decade. Man , getting into the play offs is tough this year with the great quality of play in the NFL.
    Baltimore won the 2012 season championship with a 6~2 home record playing all of their games on the road in the play offs…..no 8~0 team on this list won the SB in the year they were 8~0 except the 2006 Colts.
    the 2012 Seattle Seahawks were 8~0 at home when we lost on the road in Atlanta as a Wild Card.That’s why we hate the 49ers for winning the division that year.
    If we are shackled with the Wild Card again let it be for revenge in Atlanta.
    Go Hawks!

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Whoops the Colts did go 8~0 that 2006 year but i forgot to type them into the above list… I dont know how these guys write articles with a deadline…its so easy to make mistakes even when you are typing it with lax time to spare….