By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — Can we be real, for just a second?
I know Eagles Nation has plenty of well-meaning, albeit impetuous, dues-paying members who could play Jimmy Whispers in a remake of “A Bronx Tale.”
And what they would be whispering after the much-anticipated first preseason game – a 34-28 loss to the Chicago Bears, who rattled off 17 straight points to erase an 11-point deficit – is that Mark Sanchez out-played incumbent Nick Foles and maybe should start.
That was in the dark of night, an in-the-moment reaction.
In the light of day, such whispers should be made audible enough that we can all share a laugh.
For now, we will chalk up Nick Foles’ pair of interceptions against the Bears – on two poorly thrown balls that may or may not have been the result of less-than-familiar receivers running the wrong route – to a fluke outing.
Before the first pick, Foles stepped up into the pocket and threw a perfect strike to Brent Celek. That all-important first down was under their belts. They could set up shop at midfield and run another play without giving the Bears a chance to get set.
But, wait, this is not only preseason, but the first game of preseason.
That means it is the NFL’s version of Flag Day.
Evan Mathis, the All-Pro guard, was called for holding.
On third-and-a-mile, Foles threw a pass to a wide-open Bear.
Consider that favorite target Riley Cooper was on the sidelines in a walking boot and that the other wideout, Jeremy Maclin, was in his first game action in a more than a year after a serious knee injury.
Ifeanyi Momah started in place of Cooper. Brad Smith started in the slot position vacated by Jason Avant and yet to be claimed by the heir apparent, rookie second-round pick Jordan Matthews (four drops and little run-after-the-catch flash in his first action off the practice field, where he made a name for himself running every 3-yard gain to the end zone with no one chasing him).
I am as big of a Foles supporter there is, and I think with good cause. He is not my next-door neighbor or a relative, so there is no personal agenda other than I believe the Eagles can hitch themselves to his humble wagon and go places.
At some level, Foles may be a system quarterback who is in the right place at the right time, but that is not a bad thing.
The same could be said of Joe Montana, and it worked out OK for him with Bill Walsh in San Francisco.
So, yeah, let’s simmer down.
Those two interceptions the other night can be filed under fluke.
To be fair, his two interceptions all of last season – including the playoffs – were a fluke as well.
The long-term reality with Foles is that he will always be a quarterback who takes care of the ball pretty well. But things happen in this league. Balls get tipped at the line of scrimmage and land in enemy hands. Receivers make bad breaks.
And, yes, quarterbacks throw ill-advised passes that they want to have back.
The reality is that Chip Kelly’s offense, for all its perceived gadgetry, is fairly basic – and conservative – at its core. They run the ball a lot, and throw safe passes, while waiting for the wind-sucking defense to leave its guard down long enough for the big play to get mixed in.
Foles, despite not being Steve Young, runs it well.
The touchdown-to-interception ratio may change to something more mortal this season, but not his knowledge of the playbook.
So the whispers that Sanchez, the New York Jets refugee seeking to redeem a once-promising career, might be pushing Foles for the No. 1 job – instead of the more reasonable observation that he is clearly a more viable No.2 option over fellow USC alum Matt Barkley, need to be met with a scream.
A scream to just knock it off and be real.
The column initially appeared at http://www.phillyphanatics.com