By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s been a long time since NFL fans have seen Mark Sanchez play football. On Monday night, they were reminded why.
With starting QB Alex Smith out for the season with a broken leg, the Redskins signed Sanchez to serve as Colt McCoy’s backup, presumably for the remainder of the regular season. But when McCoy broke his leg early Monday night, Sanchez was thrust into action just two weeks after signing with Washington.
He had a chance for a magical type of evening, a throwback performance to remind the world that he was a No. 5 overall pick and he did beat the Patriots in Foxboro in a playoff game and he did lead the Jets (the Jets!) to back-to-back appearances in the conference championship game. He had the chance for a special night. But instead, he was downright Sanchezian.
There was no Butt Fumble moment, no, but there was a Butt Fumble Recovery. Overall, Sanchez was pedestrian at best, completing 13 of his 21 passes for just 100 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He led the Redskins on just one scoring drive, a two-minute drill before halftime that ended with a 47-yard field goal. (He technically gets credit for “leading a scoring drive” on his handoff that led to Adrian Peterson breaking a 90-yard touchdown run. But not here.)
Sanchez went 5-for-7 for 63 yards on that drive, which left him at 8-for-14 for 37 total passing yards on his other six drives.
The interception was so unremarkable that the broadcast crew didn’t even mention it. Booger McFarland continued on with his discussion about domestic violence, as Sanchez threw a football directly at Eagles linebacker Nathan Gerry.
Little did the Monday night broadcast crew know, but that interception was the 87th of Sanchez’s career. It broke a longstanding tie with his career touchdown number of 86. Congratulations to Mark.
He finished with a passer rating of 53.7, which was actually only the 14th-worst rating of his career. So that was nice. (Fun fact: In a 2009 loss to Buffalo, Sanchez posted a passer rating of 8.3. Eight-point-three! What?! That’s worse than zero, if you really think about it.)
It was the first time Sanchez has played in an NFL game at all since Week 17 of the 2016 season, when he went 9-for-17 for 85 yards with two picks and no touchdowns for Dallas. (Passer rating that night: 27.5!) In taking 71 percent of his team’s offensive snaps, it was the most game action Sanchez has had since he started for the Eagles in Week 12 of the 2015 season. He was actually OK in that game, completing 19 of 27 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns and no picks, but he also took six sacks on the day, as his Eagles lost by 31 points to Detroit.
With Sanchez presumably in line to start next week for Washington against the Giants, the 32-year-old quarterback will be looking to pick up his first win as a starting quarterback since Week 17 of the 2014 season, when he led the Eagles to a win over the 6-9 Giants.
Considering the national spotlight of Sanchez reappearing during Monday Night Football, the poor performance garnered more attention than it would have if it had happened in a Sunday afternoon game. Nevertheless, with the Redskins catching criticism from all corners after jumping at the chance to sign Reuben Foster fresh off his domestic violence arrest last week, some in the media are immediately using Sanchez’s employment as the latest (and most glaring) sign that Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL has merit. After all, the Redskins were 6-4 when Smith broke his leg, in first place in the NFC East, and still very much in position to make a playoff run.
But the Redskins had very little chance to sustain those chances with Colt McCoy under center. Their chances are nonexistent with Mark Sanchez.
Of course, any Kaepernick discussion involves layers upon layers of complexities. Football-wise, he’d obviously be a help to Washington — just as he’d have been a help to Jacksonville, or Buffalo, or Tampa Bay if a team had been open to signing him in the offseason. The man did throw 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions with a 90.7 passer rating in 2016, his most recent season in the NFL. (Number of seasons Sanchez has posted with a passer rating over 90: zero. For Kaepernick, that number is three.) And presumably, if Sanchez can play in 2018 after not having appeared in a game since 2016, then Kaepernick would theoretically be worthy of a shot.
Yet, obviously, Kaepernick is in the midst of suing the NFL, and owners have made it rather clear by now that signing Kaepernick is not an option.
But the more that America sees Mark Sanchez lining up under center for a team that enters Week 14 just one game back in its division, the more you’ll be hearing about collusion and Kaepernick and all sorts of fun stuff — all because Mark Sanchez is that bad.
Think about that — and forget about the Kaepernick conversation, which always ends up turning ugly on the internet — and you can’t help but chuckle. Not maliciously, of course. Sanchez seems like a decent perston (though, ehhhhhh maybe not), and really, not many quarterbacks would have shined while taking the reins just two weeks after signing with a new team, especially after not being on an NFL roster all year. Sanchez was really put in a position to fail.
Still, having experienced the onslaught of hype and praise and celebration of Sanchez when he entered the league and performed at a mediocre level for his first two seasons, one can’t help but laugh at the fact that just eight years later, his mere presence on a football field is serving as the boldest piece of evidence for Kaepernick’s collusion case. In a world where there’s not enough laughter, that’s a situation worth cherishing.