Choosing Michael Vick’s backup will be the biggest decision that Andy Reid and Co. need to make during training camp and preseason. Mike Kafka is the clear front-runner for that job as things stand now.
However, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com reported recently that the Browns are willing to trade Colt McCoy and are only looking for “minimal compensation.” To me, minimal compensation would equal either a sixth or seventh-round draft pick, or an expendable player.
In any case, it sounds like it won’t take much to get him.
The next question is, should the Eagles be interested? Or will the combination of Mike Kafka and Nick Foles be good enough? (Trent Edwards is an extreme long shot)
We all know Foles will be the third-string QB so the better question is: Would McCoy be an upgrade over Kafka?
If you think McCoy and Kafka are about equal in terms of talent, then trading for McCoy would not make sense. The only way you make this move is if you believe McCoy would be an upgrade.
That’s where things get dicey. McCoy has 21 regular season starts under his belt whereas Kafka has exactly zero. As a matter of fact, McCoy has more starts than Kafka does pass attempts (16).
However, this doesn’t mean that McCoy is the better player. His stats over the past two seasons are 400 completions out of 685 attempts for 4,309 yards with 20 TDs and 20 INTs.
Those aren’t exactly stellar numbers, but they’re not overly terrible either.
However, those numbers don’t tell the whole story.
McCoy was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft by then coach Eric Mangini. He took over the starting role mid-way through the season and took the expected lumps that any rookie QB would have to endure.
Quarterbacks typically take a full season to figure things out before they start producing at an NFL level. Heck, I remember watching Troy Aikman in his rookie season and he was brutal…BRUTAL.
Not that McCoy is anywhere near what Aikman was, but you get my point.
Logically, one would think that in Year 2, a QB is ready to make a significant step and either begin to flourish or fizzle out. But, usually when that is the case, it’s with the same team, coaching staff, and for the most part…the players.
McCoy didn’t have that luxury going from his first to second year.
Mangini was fired and Pat Shurmer took over. More often than not, new head coaches usually want “their guy” at quarterback, not their failed predecessor’s third-round afterthought.
Therefore, McCoy not only had to learn and progress from his rookie season, he also had to learn a new head coach and scheme. Furthermore, McCoy faced the pressure of proving to his new boss that he belongs without the comfort of being his personal choice on draft day.
Then, you can tack on the fact that McCoy had absolutely no talent around him on offense, except for Peyton Hillis during his rookie season. If you thought Donovan McNabb had it bad when he started, his weapons looked like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald compared to what McCoy had.
For the past two seasons, McCoy has been passing to the likes of Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Greg Little and Ben Watson. He had Peyton Hillis in 2010, but no ground game to speak of in 2011.
To boot, in 2011 the Browns re-shuffled their offensive line and had three new starters.
This led to McCoy being tied for 12th in the NFL for the most-sacked QB. Comparably speaking, Michael Vick was 23rd on that list (per Pro Football Focus).
McCoy also had the fifth-most dropped passes last year with roughly 100-200 less passes than those who had more. In other words, it’s not a good indicator for his receiving corps.
Furthermore, if you want to say that a good running game is a quarterback’s best friend, McCoy was friend-less in 2011. The Browns ranked 28th in rushing by NFL.com stats and 31st by Pro Football Focus.
So, when you take into account that he only has two years of experience, has already had two different head coaching regimes, had no offensive weapons, no ground game, and played most of last year under duress, what would be reasonable expectations for a player in those conditions?
Not much, right?
If you were to put him in a stable environment with good coaching and a good team — aka, the Eagles — there’s no telling how well he could do. Plus, he could benefit mentally from stepping out of the starting spotlight and into a backup role.
As for Kafka, we just don’t really know what we have in him. In his first game action, he looked good in leading the Eagles down the field in a comeback attempt against the Falcons. If not for an untimely drop by Jeremy Maclin, he may have gotten the win.
However, the very next week when he had to again step in for Vick, his first pass was intercepted and he didn’t look so hot.
In Kafka vs. McCoy, it comes down to knowledge of the Eagles’ offense vs. experience as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Already knowing the Eagles’ system is the biggest advantage Kafka would have over McCoy.
This is what most folks will point to if they feel Kafka is the better option. I mean, why bring in a guy at this point who doesn’t know the offense over a guy who has spent the past two years learning it?
Well, one reason that might not be as big of a deal as you think is because Pat Shurmur, McCoy’s head coach and offensive coordinator last year, is an Andy Reid disciple.
Shurmur actually came on board with Andy Reid in 1999 and worked as the tight ends coach for a couple of years. He then became the QB coach in 2002 and worked in that position until 2009, when Steve Spagnuolo hired him to run the Rams’ offense.
Therefore, Shurmur had a full 10 years of tutelage under Reid and now employs a similar offensive scheme. The Browns do run a version of the West Coast offense so it’s not a stretch to think that McCoy has already learned at least some of the basic principles of Reid’s offense.
At the least, the transition from Shurmur’s offense to the Eagles’ offense shouldn’t be as hard as you might think. Even Cleveland’s QB coach, Mark Whipple, worked under Andy Reid for two years as an offensive assistant.
At the end of the day, I’m not trying to sell Mike Kafka short nor am I trying to make out McCoy to be a future hall of famer.
When I look at both players, I see similarities. Neither player has a big arm and both have to rely on accuracy and timing. Both QBs have some mobility to them as well, though I might give a slight edge to McCoy.
However, McCoy has the more celebrated college career as he was a four-year starter at Texas whereas Kafka only had one full season as a starter at Northwestern.
McCoy also holds several college records, including the most career wins in NCAA history with 45. He was a proven winner in college before all of that detiorated once he went to the NFL wasteland we call Cleveland.
All in all, is McCoy a big enough upgrade over Kafka to warrant bringing him in at this point? I think he’s definitely an upgrade, but by how much is hard to say without much to go on regarding Kafka.
Making the right decision about the backup for Michael Vick could mean the difference between winning or losing four games in 2012. By my estimation, four is the over/under on how many games Vick will miss.
Therefore, having the most capable backup is of the utmost importance. If that’s Kafka, so be it. I’m merely trying to point out that we shouldn’t be too quick to discount McCoy based on his performance in Cleveland.
At the least, he should warrant consideration from Howie Roseman and Andy Reid. Especially if the compensation is “minimal.”