Just because Nick Foles is now the starter for the next 999 years in Philadelphia doesn't mean the quarterback competitions have come to an end. While there's no longer a battle for the starting job like there was between Foles and Michael Vick last season, there's now a position battle for the prestigious backup job.
Enter the fearsome competitors: Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. Sanchez is the new kid in town. The Eagles brought the former Jets "franchise" QB in this offseason on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million with $2.25 guaranteed. Despite appearing in two consecutive AFC Championship Games, Sanchez mightily struggled in New York. He's looking to revive his career in Philadelphia. Barkley is the returning face. After the Eagles spent a high fourth round selection on him during the 2013 NFL Draft, Barkley spent most of his rookie season as the team's third string QB. He played in limited time and put up very bad numbers, but it's worth noting he was playing in unfavorable circumstances. Barkley and Sanchez are both notably former USC quarterbacks. So I guess it's no secret that Chip Kelly likes to keep a Trojan in his pocket.
Based on how things appeared during the Eagles' OTA practice on Thursday, Sanchez is currently the favorite to win the No. 2 job behind Foles. While it's still early in the offseason, Sanchez took most of the second team repetitions while Barkley ran with the third group. It was only one practice but neither looked particularly impressive. That said, Barkley struggled less than Sanchez did.
The most ideal scenario for the Eagles is that Barkley finds a way to outplay the veteran Sanchez. Not only is Barkley the second year player that the Eagles spent a draft selection on, but he also has more familiarity with the system. When asked about his comfort with the scheme compared to last year, Barkley responded:
"A whole lot better. It really feels like "my" offense now. Last year it was kind of like Oregon's offense. It feels like the offense that I've been running for a while now. All the calls, all the checks, it all just comes to [me] quickly. I don't have to think about it now."
Despite Barkley's familiarity and youth, however, last year's battle between Vick and Foles shows that the only thing that really matters when it comes to winning the battle is playing better. Vick played better than Foles and won the starting job. It was that simple. This year, it won't matter that Barkley is a returning player of that Sanchez is an NFL veteran. This competition will ensure that both players are pushed to earn their spot.
For now, Sanchez has the edge. But Barkley isn't too far behind.