With the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets scheduled to face off on Thursday night, I reached out to our friends over at Gang Green Nation. The great John Butchko kindly took the time to answer my questions.
Let's take a look at the answers.
1) There's really no other place to start than with former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Sanchize has obviously looked great in preseason for the Eagles. Did the Jets make the right call by giving up on him? Do you think Sanchez could be a starter in the NFL again?
Cutting ties with Sanchez was really the only move to be made. The Jets probably should have not stuck with him for as long as they did to be honest. I can run off a laundry list of reasons. His contract alone made it necessary to cut ties. He had shown beyond any doubt that he was not the answer at quarterback. There was too much baggage. The Jets had moved on to Geno Smith. There are stories coming out now that Sanchez's mere presence in camp last year divided the locker room (albeit through no fault of his own) because a lot of veterans were loyal to him after the Jets had clearly invested in Geno as their guy of the future. That's natural when you are supplanting a long-time starter who has built friendships in the locker room.
Not to ruin the party, but I think Sanchez has to show a lot more before we can put any stock in his preseason stats. Are 31 preseason passes against backups significant next to over 60 professional starts?
I have serious doubts about Sanchez ever becoming a quality starter. There are certain things he can't do that are dealbreakers. He struggles if his first read is not there. Defenses easily confuse him. He doesn't throw with anticipation. He can't manipulate a defense with his eyes. He doesn't have a big enough arm to fit balls into the windows he attempts to hit. Even on completions, he too frequently fails to hit receivers in stride, leaving yards on the field.
Even from watching him this preseason I see a lot of these tendencies. First team defenses will make him pay for doing those things.
I do think the Eagles are a great spot for him, though. I could see himself reinventing himself as a solid backup. In a well-designed offense with playmakers around him to turn some of his gamble passes into big plays, he might be able to keep a team afloat over a short stretch, which is what good backups tend to do.
2) Continuing with Sanchez... Are Jets fans happy for him now that he's gone or are they rooting against him?
It's split. Some are pulling for him. Others aren't. It's easy to see both sides.
Despite his failure to develop into a franchise quarterback, he always came across as a classy guy. It's nice to see good guys find success.
On the other hand, it would also be quite painful to see somebody who failed to do the job with the Jets finally put it together elsewhere.
3) I count six former Eagles on the Jets' roster: QB Michael Vick, WR Greg Salas, S Jaiquawn Jarrett, CB Dimitri Patterson, OLB Antwan Barnes, and lastly... Jason Babin. Give us a quick update on these players. How do they each figure in to the Jets roster? How do the fans receive them?
Vick - Backup and mentor to Geno Smith. Might see some time in gadget packages.
Salas - Impressing in camp and the preseason. Likely to make the roster and might see some significant playing time.
Patterson - It has been a complete and utter disaster. The Jets are sitting on over $20 of cap space. They had a need at cornerback and a deep free agent class. Patterson was all they got. He was awful in his one preseason appearance. He has been hurt in camp. Then he skipped a game without the team's permission last weekend. He's suspended indefinitely, and it seems unlikely he will be around by opening day.
Barnes - Still on the PUP list recovering from a knee injury that cut his 2013 short. He'll be a situational pass rusher.
Babin - Probably signed as insurance for Barnes' injury. He'll push starter Quinton Coples for playing time and get onto the field on passing downs.
Vick has been relatively well-received. Given his past I was expecting a lot of fans to give him a harder time. Patterson is a very unpopular guy at the moment for the reasons I mentioned above. I'm not sure any of the others elicit big reactions.
4) The Eagles are the only NFL team that the Jets haven't defeated at least once in the regular season. Philadelphia has won all 9 match-ups dating back to 1973. Is this something that Jets fans are aware of and/or actually care about?
I've never really thought of the Eagles as a rival. Our teams have never met in the Super Bowl. We don't compete against each other for a postseason spot. We only play each other once every four years in a meaningful game.
Bragging rights over which team has the better backups isn't really anything to get riled up about.
5) If you could steal one player off the Eagles' roster, who are you taking?
I'd have to go with LeSean McCoy. He's one of those guys who changes an offense. The Jets don't really have a guy like that.
Bonus: Let's hear a score prediction for this especially meaningless preseason game.
Jets 25, Eagles 16
Don't forget to also check out the on-going Eagles/Jets live chat conversation with David Wyatt (also from GGN).