The decision by Andy Reid on who will be the No. 2 QB behind Michael Vick could ultimately make or break the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2012 season. Unlike most other football teams, the Eagles must go into the season thinking that their backup quarterback will get some quality playing time.
So, the question is, who will it be? Trent Edwards or Mike Kafka?
Newly drafted rookie QB Nick Foles is a lock to make the roster and will be third string. Therefore, the competition for the No. 2 job is directly between Kafka and Edwards.
And contrary to what Howie Roseman tried to infer, the Eagles will not keep four QBs on the roster. The loser of the backup battle will be cut by September.
This could ultimately turn out to be the single-most important decision Andy Reid and crew will make. Michael Vick has only completed one full 16-game season in his career which makes it good odds that he’ll miss some time in 2012.
If you’re a gambling man, I’d say that the over-under for games missed by Vick in 2012 is four games.
Andy Reid has made it clear that he expects Vick to alter his game a little bit in an effort to remain healthy — he can’t help the team win from the sidelines. However, old habits die-hard and for a guy that can’t seem to learn how to slide, chances are Vick will sustain some form of injury that causes him to miss time.
This is why the decision on Vick’s backup is critical.
Last season, Vick missed three games and couldn’t finish two others as he collected a myriad of injuries including a concussion, bruised hand and broken ribs. In 2010, he missed four games due to a rib cartilage injury.
The good news is that Vick has never suffered a dreaded season-ending injury and has more-or-less been hampered only by numerous nuisance-type injuries. The biggest injury of his career was in 2003 when he broke his leg prior to the season but ended up playing in the final five games.
The bad news is that he’ll be 32 by the start of this season and is coming off of two consecutive battered-and-bruised seasons.
A mix of good and bad news is the Eagles’ offensive line. That group really began to gel the last half of the season in 2011 and they made the all-important re-signing of Evan Mathis. Continuity is key for a good offensive line.
Unfortunately, the best player on the line, Jason Peters, will likely miss the entire 2012 season. The Eagles signed Demetress Bell to replace him so how that will impact the overall play of the line is yet to be seen.
Will Vick trust Bell? Will he be more apt to take off running at the hint of his left-side protection breaking down? At least Vick will be able to keep an eye on that since Bell won’t be his blind-side protector.
However, with his age, uncertainty at left tackle and his ingrained habit to run, Vick is still at high risk for injury.
This means that Trent Edwards or Mike Kafka need to be ready to deliver for the team. They need to not only be ready to step into a live game and either lead a comeback or preserve a victory, they need to be prepared to start for three or four games.
This becomes crucial because those three or four games could mean the difference between an 8-8 or 11-5 season. In the seven full games that Vick has missed the past two seasons, the Eagles have posted a 3-4 record.
They will likely need a better winning percentage from the backup this season if they hope to attain the ultimate goal.
Trent Edwards’ best season came in 2008 with Buffalo. He completed 245 passes out of 374 attempts for 2,699 yards, 11 TDs and 10 INTs. For his career, he has completed 561 passes out of 927 attempts for 6,019 yards, 26 TDs and 30 INTs.
He has a 60.5 career completion percentage but has thrown more INTs than TDs, and his career QB rating is only 75.4. Then you add in the fact that he couldn’t even find a job in the NFL last season, it makes you wonder how capable he really is.
However, it’s not like his competition is a world-beater either. Mike Kafka’s career numbers look something like this: 16 pass attempts with 11 completions for 107 yards, zero TDs and two INTs for a QB rating of 47.7.
Obviously, Kafka is the young guy that hasn’t gotten an opportunity in the NFL yet so we really can’t look at his career stats and determine anything by them. The key with Kafka is his potential.
And to me, his potential looked promising after his first NFL game action back on September 18th of 2011. This is when he came in after Vick was knocked silly with a concussion against Atlanta.
With the Eagles down by four points, Kafka and the offense took over at their own nine yard-line with just under five minutes to play. He completed five straight passes, including a very nice deep throw to Jeremy Maclin, that led his team down to the Atlanta 22 yard-line with under two minutes to play.
Unfortunately, on fourth and four, Kafka’s bid for a comeback victory ended when Maclin dropped a perfect pass that would have went for a first down. It would have been the ideal way for the young guy to start his career.
However, any way you look at it, that was a great job by Kafka. He put his team in a position to get the win after coming off the bench in a huge Monday night game. It was his first NFL action and the pressure was on, and he delivered.
Kafka’s next game action came the following week when again he had to replace Vick. This time, though, his first pass of the game was intercepted which set up a Giants touchdown to put the game away.
Therefore, we have a mixed bag to go on when it comes to Kafka. This is why we’ll have to rely on how he looks in training camp and preseason this year.
In Edwards and Kafka, it’s experience vs. potential.
If Reid decides to go with Kafka, he’ll be taking a serious risk with having a lot of youth backing-up the injury-prone Vick. If he goes with Edwards, he’ll be relying on a guy who couldn’t beat-out the awesome Kyle Boller for a backup job in Oakland in 2010.
At this point, neither guy is really enticing and screams “insurance at the QB position.” Both players have their pros and cons but one of them will be handed a crucial role for the 2012 season.
If this is a make-or-break year for Andy Reid, this could be the decision that will ultimately make or break him.
The backup QB for Michael Vick is something of a quasi-starter. It’s almost a given that he will see the field often enough to make a direct impact on the 2012 season. If Reid picks wisely, that impact should be more positive than negative.
The Eagles have a pretty tough schedule in 2012 in facing seven teams that made the playoffs last year. However, if Vick is to miss time, let’s hope either the bye-week eats up a week of it or it happens during the second-half of the season when we play teams like Carolina, Tampa Bay and Washington.
Or better yet, let’s just hope Vick stays healthy for all 16-plus games.