Backup quarterback is a strange position because it's potentially both very important and sometimes completely irrelevant. It goes without saying that how often the backup QB plays depends on the health of the starter. The previous backups to oft-injured Michael Vick, current Eagles starter Nick Foles/Vince Young/Mike Kafka, probably knew they were going to play at some point. Former Colts backup QB Jim Sorgi, on the other hand, recorded 159 pass attempts in 6 seasons (26.5 per year) as a backup to the iron-man Peyton Manning.
It's only been two seasons but so far Nick Foles hasn't proved to be an injury-prone player. He missed the final game of the 2012 season with a fractured hand that ended his rookie season. After a terrible day against the Cowboys in 2013, Foles left the game early with a concussion. He missed the team's next game against the Giants but returned two weeks later from the original injury. Foles is tough and seems to play smart so injuries don't feel like a major concern. Still, he holds onto the ball longer than most QBs and isn't the most graceful slider when he takes off running. He's hardly impervious to injury.
The latest piece in Danny Kelly's "Which NFL teams have the best [position]?" series focuses on backup quarterbacks. Kelly ranks the Eagles QB situation in the "Former starters and/or homegrown vets" tier. The former applies to the Eagles situation. Let's see exactly what he had to say.
Backing up Foles this year is Mark Sanchez, who returns to football after sitting 2013 out with a shoulder injury. While the former fifth overall pick may not excite many as a starting quarterback prospect, he does offer quite a bit of value as an experienced backup (and he's getting $4M to be just that for Chip Kelly).
Sanchez has 62 regular season starts in his career, plus six in the Playoffs, and provides Philadelphia with a backup plan if Foles were to go down with an injury. Like Hasselbeck, Sanchez doesn't offer top-flight arm strength or dynamic athleticism, but he's an experienced veteran that could in theory manage a football game if called to do so, particularly with Philly's growing talent-base on offense.
As I noted in my final thoughts from Eagles OTAs/minicamps, the team is in trouble if Foles is injured for a long amount of time. Sanchez and Barkley just haven't impressed in the team's offseason workouts. Sanchez looked slightly better and seemed to improve as the practices went on. I also think he could be at a disadvantage considering he's coming into a completely new system with new teammates. Maybe that transition period is smoothed out over time and Sanchez looks sharper by the end of the summer, not unlike the Trent Edwards situation in 2012. Sanchez isn't good but he's far from the worst the Eagles could do. Plus he'll be surrounded by the best supporting offensive cast he's ever had.
Looking at the other backup QB situations on Kelly's list, I don't see how the Eagles are much worse off than other teams. Are there many other desirable backup QBs in the NFL? Perhaps some, yes, but how many represent something more than a marginal upgrade over what Sanchez brings?
The Eagles backup QB situation is far from reassuring. But overall I'd say it's close to the league average.