By Thursday, Mark Sanchez didn't want to talk about the Seahawks game, and who could blame him?
He wasn't the only Eagles player on offense who wanted to wipe away the memory of last Sunday's 24-14 loss to Seattle. As impressive as the Seahawks' defensive performance was, the Eagles left plays on the field, particularly in the passing game.
As coach Chip Kelly said, it was a team effort, or lack thereof. The running game never got going, the offensive line struggled in both run blocking and pass protection, and the receivers dropped passes or couldn't get open.
But there were at least a half-dozen pass plays when Sanchez's receivers were open, the protection was sound, and the quarterback failed to deliver. Sometimes he went to the wrong target, sometimes he threw errantly, and other times he just didn't pull the trigger.
Sanchez wasn't the first quarterback to be flummoxed by Seattle. Some of the NFL's best have been made to look less-than-ordinary over the last three years. Quarterbacks miss open receivers, sometimes more than once a game. But six when you've attempted only 20 passes is a problem.
The good news is that it hasn't been a recurring issue. Sanchez has, for the most part, seen the entire field. The throws haven't always been on target, and he's made some poor decisions, but he's generally executed the offense proficiently, particularly against the Cowboys 17 days ago.
Dallas returns for the rematch on Sunday night. There should be comfort for Sanchez considering his success in the first meeting (20 of 29 passing for 217 yards, a touchdown, and no turnovers).
But it is more than likely that the Cowboys will come in with a different defensive scheme, one designed to limit running back LeSean McCoy, and take their chances that Sanchez won't beat them when asked to shoulder the load.
"I don't know. That's why I don't deal with hypotheticals," Kelly said on Thursday when asked about such a possibility. "That's how we'll play the game out. Will they do that, and will they challenge us from that standpoint? We'll see."
Sanchez may also have one last time to impress the judges and make the case that he deserves to start the rest of the season, even if Nick Foles is cleared to return on Monday when he undergoes a checkup on his broken collarbone.
Sanchez said he isn't looking that far ahead.
"I have no idea. That's not really where my focus is at," Sanchez said. "I'm just preparing for a game on Sunday night and trying to help the team win."
It's not clear-cut that Kelly would go back to Foles. It is likely he will. Foles had missed his share of open receivers and made the wrong decisions in the first eight games, but he can make more throws from the pocket than Sanchez.
The argument for Sanchez is bolstered by his efficiency in running the Eagles' up-tempo offense and his mobility in and out of the pocket. He has thrown well moving to his left or right, not so well stepping up in the pocket, however.
Of particular concern last Sunday was the number of times Sanchez threw to receivers short of the sticks on third down. The expectation was that they would pick up the first down after the catch, but they were either tackled short or the pass was knocked away.
The larger issue was that Sanchez had open men beyond the marker - tight end Zach Ertz on at least three occasions. On those third-down passes, Sanchez usually didn't have progression reads. He had coverage reads in which he decided where the ball should go based on his reading of the defense.
It's a lot to compute and execute in a matter of seconds.
"You get your pre-snap looks and what kind of shell are they in? What does it look like they're going to play? Did anything change when you snapped the ball?" Sanchez said. "And then you look at matchups, and if it happens to be man-to-man and understanding your concept vs. what defenses are playing."
Eliminating defenders "is the most important thing," Sanchez said. "If you have five guys in a route you don't necessarily have time to go one to five. So if you can eliminate two or three of those guys and really focus on the most important vs. that defense, you kind of put yourself in a good spot."
Sanchez also missed opportunities downfield. He hasn't taken as many deep chances - balls thrown 20 or more yards past the line - as Foles (26 attempts in six games vs. 59 in eight) and hasn't been as productive (nine completions for 281 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions for Sanchez vs. 19 completions for 578 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions for Foles).
He went deep to Riley Cooper twice against the Seahawks, but he threw wide into double coverage and then short when his receiver had a step and the pass was picked off. Compounding the turnover was that Sanchez missed a wide-open Jordan Matthews near the sideline.
Earlier, Sanchez had Ertz breaking free on a 20-yard out. He looked directly at the tight end but pumped and pumped and then went elsewhere. He likely wasn't sure of the coverage, but the underneath cornerback would have had a hard time making a play on the ball had it been thrown accurately.
Sanchez, who had surgery last year after he tore his labrum, still has enough arm strength. Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave said recently that Sanchez was hesitant in the spring, but overcame any doubts by the preseason.
"I've felt great the whole season," Sanchez said. "Maybe going through the preseason, I think, once that was over, [you] really prove to yourself after a major injury like that, mentally, that I can still do this."
He can. He just didn't against the Seahawks. He may have only one more chance to show it.
Mark Sanchez has not taken as many shots downfield as Nick Foles and has not been as effective when he does. Here are their numbers this season when throwing the ball 20 or more yards downfield.
Games Cmp. Att. Yards TDs INTs
Foles 8 19 59 578 9 6
Sanchez 6 9 26 281 1 2