PHILADELPHIA — Mark Sanchez is the Sanchize again.
Sanchez, once the franchise quarterback for the New York Jets, takes over a first-place team with high expectations.
Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC championship game his first two seasons in the NFL so he's won big games. The Eagles (6-2) don't expect to miss a beat with him under center.
"His preparation is just outstanding and he prepared himself like he's the starter," coach Chip Kelly said. "He's already ready, he's always focused and always prepared to make plays and that's part of his makeup. That's what we really liked about him. He's got a great work ethic."
Sanchez replaced Foles in the first half of Sunday's 31-21 win at Houston and completed a 52-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin on his first play in nearly two years. He finished 15 of 22 for 202 yards, two TDs and two interceptions against the Texans.
He'll make his first start since Dec. 30, 2012, when the Eagles host the Carolina Panthers (3-5-1) on Monday night.
"For Sanchez to come in for Foles was big time," left tackle Jason Peters said. "Lot of confidence with Sanchez, a lot of swagger. Even though he's a humble guy, on the field the confidence from him gets everyone else going, so I like him."
Sanchez was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and drew comparisons to Joe Namath in New York. He was 4-2 in the postseason and helped the Jets beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive road playoff games in January 2011.
But Sanchez had an NFL-leading 52 turnovers in 2012-13 and lost his starting job to rookie Geno Smith last year. He missed the entire season after tearing his labrum in a preseason game.
The Eagles wasted little time signing Sanchez after he was released by the Jets in March, a few days after New York signed former Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick.
"I saw Mark play in high school. I've been very familiar with him for a long time, coached against him when I was at Oregon and saw what a great athlete he was at the quarterback spot," Kelly said.
"I think he obviously has a big-time arm, an NFL arm. He's got NFL feet. He's really, really smart. He's sharp. Great work ethic, very athletic, all the things you're looking for in a quarterback."
Kelly has no plans to change his up-tempo offense because Sanchez is similar to Foles, who was inconsistent this season after a breakout year in 2013. Sanchez is slightly more mobile than Foles, but he's also not a threat to run a zone-read play.
"We're going to run our offense the way we run it," Kelly said. "I think there may be a throw here that he likes better. (Maybe) he likes to throw the 18-yard in as opposed to the 15-yard dig, or things like that. But we won't drastically change anything if he's in there."
Kelly's system is quarterback friendly. Vick played well last year before he got hurt and Foles had one of the best statistical seasons in history after replacing him.
Though he's struggled with turnovers this year, Foles still has produced. Sanchez has plenty of help around him. LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles and Chris Polk led a strong rushing attack against Houston. Jeremy Maclin is having a career year at wide receiver and there's Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Riley Cooper and Brent Celek.
"That's the beauty of playing quarterback in this system, there are so many weapons," Sanchez said. "When those guys touch the ball, you give them a clean throw and they will make you look good. So I just will keep doing that."
Sanchez quickly learned Philadelphia's offense and was impressive in the preseason. He showed no ill effects after shoulder surgery and has stayed sharp because Philadelphia's backups get plenty of reps in Kelly's fast-paced practices.
"Mark is a baller," Matthews said. "We knew we wouldn't have to change the offense at all. He's been doing that since he was here at OTAs and minicamp, so we're confident in Mark. We know that he can go in there and make plays. He's a franchise quarterback. We just have to go in and continue to move better forward."
NOTES: The Eagles signed RB Kenjon Barber to the practice squad. He replaces S Jordan Kovacs, who was signed by the Miami Dolphins.
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