Eagles, Cowboys face life without starters

ony Gutierrez/AP Photo

The Eagles’ quarterback job is Mark Sanchez’s for now with Nick Foles injuredThe Philadelphia Eagles (6-2) and Dallas Cowboys (6-3) are 1-2 in the NFC East standings, and both are dealing with injuries to their starting quarterbacks. They lead their division rivals by at least 2½ games, and according to projections from numberFire, each has better than a 75 percent likelihood of making the playoffs.

Sanchez handled the blitz -- really

The Eagles will be without Nick Foles for six to eight weeks after he was found to have a crack in his left collarbone. So in comes Mark Sanchez, who Sunday saw his first NFL action since Week 17 of the 2012 season. One area to watch will be how Sanchez handles the blitz, something he struggled with his final three seasons with the Jets (2010 to 2012). He bottomed out in 2012 when his Total QBR was 15.1 against the blitz, which was the worst of any qualifying quarterback, and his eight interceptions in that situation tied Tony Romo for the most.

Mark Sanchez by Pass Rushers Sunday

The early returns were positive. Sanchez was 7-of-9 against the Texans’ blitz Sunday. Both of his touchdown passes came against extra pressure. When the Texans used a more conservative rush, however, Sanchez struggled.

Sanchez was 4-of-4 on passes from outside the pocket, including his touchdown to Jeremy Maclin in the fourth quarter. That one touchdown pass outside the pocket matched the number of touchdown passes Foles has thrown (in 45 passes) from outside the pocket this season.

And throwing to Maclin deep may be a smart plan. Both Foles and Sanchez completed passes to Maclin 30 or more yards past the line of scrimmage Sunday, including a touchdown. Eagles quarterbacks are 3-of-3 with two touchdowns on such passes to Maclin the past two weeks after going 1-of-13 with one touchdown and three interceptions the first six games of the season.

Romo or Weeden ... or Option 3?

The Cowboys travel to London to play the Jaguars on Sunday, but it’s uncertain who will be under center: Romo or Brandon Weeden. Romo’s 64.7 Total QBR over the last three seasons is ninth among 34 qualified quarterbacks. Weeden’s 25.4 QBR ranks last in that time span. Weeden has lost his last eight starts.

Highest Rush Percentage
on First Down Weeks 1-8

The statistics would seem to make it a simple choice, regardless of who plays quarterback: Run with DeMarco Murray and the run game.

The Cowboys ran the ball on 12 of their 26 first-down snaps in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals (46 percent). It was the second time this season that the Cowboys passed more than ran on first down. The other game? A Week 1 loss to the 49ers. The Cowboys’ rush-pass ratio on first down in all other games is at least plus-10 in favor of rushes this season, and they are 6-1 in those games.