Chip Kelly Needs Mark Sanchez To Avoid New “Dream Team”


It’s deja-boo all over again.

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After yet another deflating loss to a less talented opponent, the clock ticks on the time bomb of a season that began with such excitement and hope.

It’s happened before. This all has an eerily similar vibe to just four years prior, during the catastrophic “Dream Team” campaign. After an equally eventful offseason, expectations were through the roof in 2011. However, the new parts never jelled and, although he lasted one more disastrous season, a series of questionable moves by then-coach Andy Reid ultimately spelled the beginning of the end of his 14-year tenure in Philly.

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There has become a parallel between him and the latest GM-coach hybrid in town.

Reid promoted his longtime offensive line coach to defensive coordinator despite having no experience doing it. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly let his two starting guards walk with no viable replacements.

Reid overpaid a free agent cornerback who was a product of the system he was in. Kelly…okay, they both did that.

That team also began 1-3 in a year where the division leader would finish 9-7.

This time, it isn’t about self-entitled veterans who are too big for their britches. It’s about a young cast of characters who are pressing and seem to be lacking a leader to guide them.

And yet, a quarter through a train wreck of a season, they find themselves just a game out leading a division drenched in mediocrity.

Like Reid toward the end, Kelly seems to be afflicted with Reverse Midas Syndrome: Everything he touches lately turns to garbage. Be it quarterback, running back, cornerback, guards or, most recently, kicker, it feels that every move has backfired.

However, he can reverse the “reverse curse” by addressing the first of those positions.

Enter Mark Sanchez. Yes, him. Yes, really.

It’s become abundantly apparent that Sam Bradford was not simply a product of a flawed system in St. Louis; he was just being Sam Bradford. What he’s currently doing with the Eagles – staring down his target, his uninspiring deer-in-headlight expressions, his terribly overthrown deep balls, his poor instincts while under pressure, his inability or refusal to roll out to either extend a play or create something on his own – are things he’s been doing for years now.

Thinking a change of scenery would change these shortcomings is a stubbornly arrogant trait that Kelly’s predecessor possessed, as well.

Make no mistake that Sanchez is not and will not become the Kurt Warner to Bradford’s Trent Green, or the Tom Brady to his Drew Bledsoe. What he can become is a stabilizing force. Those fans who were expecting a franchise savior behind center will have to wait at least another year and look outside of the existing roster.

However, he’s also not the Vince Young to 2011’s Michael Vick. Time has a way of obscuring the reality of the past.

The fact is, Sanchez was, at worst, serviceable in his role last season. He shattered his career bests in both completion percentage (64.1 compared to 56.3 for his career) and QB ranking (88.4 versus 74.1 for his career). He also wins. 5-4 with the Eagles, 39-33 overall with two conference championship appearances to boot.

Does he still have issues with turnovers and taking ill-advised sacks? Yes, but so does the guy playing now.

Most importantly, it sends a message to the team – one that Reid himself struggled with – that being on the field is merit based, regardless of pedigree or price tag. It’s why someone like Nolan Carroll is playing now and should have played more last year.

At a time when morale is low – for players and fans alike – Sanchez’s intangibles, such as his energy and winning pedigree, could be a nice boost compared to the present alternative.

Residing in the NFC East, where every team has given away at least one win already, means that the postseason is still attainable, if not deserved. But every week that passes with yet another winnable game gone unfulfilled only inches this team closer to yet another season that looked quite appetizing going in, but reeked of garbage coming out.

For Kelly, it shouldn’t be hard for him to put his finger on it.

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