Mark Sanchez is currently the No. 2 quarterback, and he seems close to entrenched in that role with the way he’s played during the summer. He’s ahead of Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne, and the coaching staff has been impressed with the way Sanchez has adapted to the Eagles and picked up the offense.
“It feels like we’ve been doing it for such awhile now,” Sanchez said. “Playing against a different team will make it a little different. Hopefully see a couple different looks and change things up, but I expect things to go well.”
Sanchez signed a one-year deal in Philadelphia. Like any quarterback, he wants to start somewhere. His resume is different than most backups, considering he’s only 27 and already started four seasons and six playoff games.
Sanchez signed with the Eagles knowing Nick Foles was the starter, but he wanted exposure to this offense and coaching staff. Plus, he knew the worst-case scenario would be getting valuable preseason film with some talented skill-position players, and opposing teams can evaluate that film for next season. Those teams will see him display some tools he hasn’t shown as frequently in the past.
“I think it will be good because we move around quite a bit, and I’m comfortable doing that,” Sanchez said. “I’m comfortable playing at a fast pace. I really enjoy the tempo and speed of things. Hopefully, see an improved guy, a six-year veteran, ready to play well.’
**The Eagles invested a 2013 fourth-round pick in Matt Barkley, a ballyhooed college player who has not found in stardom in the NFL. Barkley was third-string last season, and he will need to hold off Kinne to be the third-stringer this season. His shoulder is healthier and his arm has improved since last season, so there will be more to show than one year ago.
“I think he's been a lot better understanding of what we are doing so his decision-making I think really, it's starting to get there,” coach Chip Kelly said. “I think a lot of times when you're a young quarterback, you want to impress so when you get in there, I'm going to force this thing in there and try to fit one in a tight one and take the shot down the field instead of doing probably what should be done is a check down and I think he's getting a little more comfortable with that.
“The one thing he realizes, he's got to stay on the field. So if you're taking shots down the field and you miss a few of those, then you're off.”
Barkley said his anticipation and knowledge of the offense has progressed the most since last season. He’s also more comfortable with the timing of the wide receivers, which seemed to be an issue last season.
A competitive quarterback who’s not used to being on the sideline, Barkley came into last season hoping to win the starting job. In reality, the competition was between Foles and Michael Vick. The Eagles’ signing of Sanchez did not bode well for Barkley’s natural progression to backup, but a good preseason will raise Barkley’s stock in Philadelphia – and perhaps make him enticing in a potential trade. A bad preseason might mean the team would need to decide between Barkley and Kinne.
“I don’t feel like I have to hold anyone off,” Barkley said. “We’re both excited for preseason games to get some tape out there.”
**Kinne spent last season on the practice squad. The team is intrigued by his ability, but the reality is he’s behind one player brought in to be the backup and another player drafted in the fourth round. That means Kinne must significantly beat out Barkley and/or Sanchez or benefit from an injury to make the roster.
“I definitely think you look at [the depth chart], but I can’t control that,” Kinne said. “Chip preaches all the time, worry about the things you can control, and every rep I get, I try to make most of it. I try not to look at the rep count, because that’ll be discoursing some times. Some days, it’s better than others. But at the same time, I know I’m going to make my money in the preseason.”
Kelly called Kinne the “classic gunslinger.” Kinne has heard that often, because he could sit for 25-30 minutes in practice and receive only a few reps to show what he can do.
“When he gets in, he's going to let it rip,” Kelly said. “They could have eight guys deep in coverage and he's still going to try to get it down the field.”
Kinne still has practice squad eligibility, so he could remain in Philadelphia even if he does not beat out Barkley. He could also impress another team enough to make an active roster.
“100 percent, I want to be here,” Kinne said. “But I’m definitely auditioning for other teams.”