Angelo Cataldi: Eagles have quarterback controversy brewing

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Mark Sanchez ran Chip Kelly’s offense impressively in leading Eagles to a 31-21 win Sunday in Houston. One day later, Kelly had a very uncomfortable question to consider: What if Sanchez operates it better than Nick Foles over the next few weeks? Can Sanchez win the starting job?

“That’s a hypothetical,” the coach snapped on my WIP radio show yesterday. “I don’t deal in hypotheticals.”

OK, then let’s deal in some hard, cold facts. Foles had a historic 119 quarterback rating in 2013, compared to a pitiful 81.5 this season. Foles threw two interceptions last season, and 10 so far this year. Foles was refreshingly honest and insightful a year ago, yet has become robotic and painfully self-conscious this season.

Even before his broke his collarbone against the Texans, Foles was the same enigma he has been all year. First, he dropped a perfect spiral into Jeremy Maclin’s hands on a 59-yard touchdown pass, just a few minutes before he made a ghastly throw to Houston cornerback A. J. Bouye that handed the points right back.

Experts have been trying to explain the 2014 version Nick Foles all season, but the real mystery is the amazing success of the 2013 version. Foles was never supposed to be as good as he was last season. He has an erratic arm, cement feet and is an awkward leader. There is nothing about Foles that screams franchise quarterback.

I know, I know. I have championed his cause since Andy Reid drafted him three years ago, preaching the merits of his accuracy and his heart. And I was wrong. Watching the composure of a veteran quarterback like Sanchez – who, by the way, is no long-term answer for the Eagles, either – was both revealing and a little alarming.

There was no dramatic difference in their statistics against Houston, but Sanchez simply looked more the part of a winning quarterback. He calls the plays with more command, moves far more naturally in the pocket, and seems more comfortable in a role he held, with success, for four years with the Jets.

Meanwhile, Foles has regressed. He has been caving under the pressure of higher expectations. Opponents have figured out how to get him backpedaling, where his accuracy suffers dramatically. Injuries in the offensive line have forced him into bad decisions. Above all, the element of surprise is gone, both for him and for Kelly’s offense.

In the time it takes for Foles to heal – estimated at six to eight weeks – Sanchez will have a chance to prove that his experience and mobility are better suited to the Eagles than Foles, at least for the rest of this season.

For what it’s worth, here’s one loud endorsement for Mark Sanchez. He gives the Eagles their best chance to do something special this season. In fact, based on Foles’ recent play, it is their only chance.

Idle thoughts…

  • The Sixers are the most classless, shameless organization I have encountered in at least the last 20 years. CEO Scott O’Neill’s verbal assault against Larry Brown after the legendary coach ripped the team’s blatant tanking was a disgrace. Brown is in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Who the hell is Scott O’Neill?
  • In their first two games – both losses, of course – the Sixers missed their final 24 shots from the field. That’s zero for 24 with the game on the line. In other words, the plan is working to perfection so far.
  • Some things never change. The Flyers have a goaltending controversy again with Steve Mason and Ray Emery – as they have had since current GM Ron Hextall retired 15 years ago. And the worst part is, neither Mason nor Emery is good enough to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL.
  • The behavior of the CB West parents who ripped into school administrators last week for calling off the football season was almost as bad as the horrific hazing acts that led to the decision. If you really want to know why the bullying issue is getting bigger all the time, just check out the actions of those clueless parents at CB West.
  • After back-to-back 73-89 seasons, GM Ruben Amaro has written a handbook called “The Phillies Way” which outlines the plans and philosophies of the organization. His chapter on how to turn a World Series champion into a last-place team is must reading.

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