Mark Sanchez has started every NFL game he has ever appeared in, 62 of 62 since the New York Jets drafted him fifth overall in 2009. So when Sanchez stepped to a NovaCare podium Friday, it was no surprise that many of the questions had to do with why he signed with a team that presumably has a starting quarterback in Nick Foles.
"I feel like this team, this coach, the kind of firepower they have, there's just an exciting element to being here in Philadelphia," said Sanchez, who led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game his first two seasons, before he and the team hit hard times. "Coach (Chip) Kelly really is on the cutting edge of the NFL. He's one of those guys who has a really exciting vision for the future. I think he is on a constant pursuit of a competitive edge. He's an excitable person. I think as an offensive mind, I'm going to do nothing but learn here."
Sanchez, 27, coming off a season lost to shoulder surgery, signed a one-year deal that will pay a maximum of $4 million, with about $2.5 million guaranteed. He said the Eagl'es medical staff was "pleasantly surprised" by the condition of his shoulder, and he indicated he will be full-go for the season.
Clearly, if Sanchez doesn't end up getting a chance to start here, he hopes working with Kelly, in what should be a winning situation, will put him in a better position to become someone's starter in 2015.
"I love the tempo of the offense," Sanchez said. He said Kelly is "so focused, he's like a surgical knife, he's that exact, but he's so excited. He's so energetic. That stuff is contagious. It gets you excited, to be in a place like this. The way he talked about getting the right players for this system -- he feels like he's just about got that here. The kind of vision, moving forward, of what it's supposed to look like kind of came together for them toward the end of the season, so it's definitely a team on the rise."
Sanchez said he did not discuss with Kelly whether he would have the chance to compete for the starting job. He said he is "not stirring up a controversy, I'm here to help the team win."
"I really do respect Foles, I respect what he's done here, especially this last year. I think he's a heckuva player, incredible talent, and I'm excited to work with him," said Sanchez, who noted that the quarterbacks work with the same agent group. Sanchez, Matt Barkley's predecessor at USC, said he hosted Barkley on Barkley's recruiting visit.
"I'm confident in my skills. I'm going to compete to be the best player I can possibly be ... put my head down and work," he said. "I'm always going to want to start. I think Matt Barkley wants to start. I think G.J. Kinne wants to start. Greg McElroy (in New York) wanted to start ... I don't think there's anything wrong with having that drive."
Sanchez said he and agent Andrew Kessler had "a handful of offers, a handful of discussions with other teams, but this just felt like the right fit."
"There are no guarantees" in the NFL, Sanchez said. "This whole thing's a crapshoot. But I'd like to take the best calculated risk I could, and I think this is it."
In a statement released by the team, Kelly reiterated what he'd said at the NFL Meetings in Orlando about nevrer having too much talent at the QB position. He said adding Sanchez, when the Jets released him after signing former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick,, was "a no-brainer for us."
Sanchez stressed that "I have nothing but good things to say about the New York Jets," though his last few years there were filled with turmoil and uncertainty. Sanchez suffered his season-ending shoulder injury when he was needlessly inserted into the final minutes of a preseason game behind a backup line last August.
Sanchez has just a 71.7 passer rating his four NFL seasons. He's never thrown fewer than 13 interceptions in a season, and overall has thrown 68 touchdown passes with 69 interceptions. His career completion percentage is 55.1.