Mark Sanchez will be starting at quarterback Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Sanchez will be replacing Sam Bradford, who will miss the game with a shoulder injury sustained in last week’s loss to Miami. Sanchez went 14 of 23 for 156 yards and an interception after replacing Bradford, and will be starting for the first time since going 4-4 with the Eagles last season.
With the New York Giants (5-5) on their bye week, Philadelphia (4-5) can move into a first-place tie atop the NFC East with a win over Tampa Bay.
Bradford has completed 63.9 percent of his passes at 10.7 yards per catch, with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Sanchez put up very similar numbers last season, so he should be able to keep the Eagles passing game going without too much of a drop off.
That will be important against Tampa Bay, whose defensive weakness is against the pass. The Buccaneers are ranked 18th on pass defense, and have allowed 19 touchdown passes in nine games, the second-worst in the league.
The Eagles also announced running back Ryan Mathews is out with a brain injury. Mathews is the least known of Philadelphia’s three-pronged running attack, but at 5.7 yards per carry, he has been much more efficient than DeMarco Murray (3.5) or Darren Sproles (3.7). He also has scored five rushing touchdowns, as many as Murray and Sproles put together.
While Tampa Bay struggles against the pass, they have an outstanding run defense, allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. If they are able to shut down Murray and Sproles on Sunday, it will make things much more difficult for Sanchez.