There is no more important backup role on the Philadelphia Eagles depth chart than that of the #2 quarterback. Why? Because the athleticism and unpredictability that have helped led Vick to success as a starter also put him at high risk for injury. While Vick’s health is an incredibly important factor in the success of the Birds in 2012, history tells us that he will miss at least a few games during the season. So who will step in if he’s out?
The current quarterbacks on the roster are Vick, recently drafted Nick Foles, Mike Kafka, and former Bills QB Trent Edwards. Only Kafka has previous experience with the Eagles system, and that aided in the fact that he received the second-most snaps at the team’s OTAs last week.
Head coach Andy Reid said that Kafka has been working hard this offseason, and its beginning to pay dividends. Said Reid,
“I think he has a better feel of the overall offense. He’s been up here every day working, so it just getting where people are placed and the timing down with different receivers.”
The Courier-Post’s Geoff Mosher said that Kafka is “running away” with the backup position. Mosher and other observers were alarmed at how poorly Edwards performed in practices last week, struggling to get the ball to receivers even without facing defenders. Edwards did not play in the NFL in 2011 but Reid believes that “he’ll get there.” Edwards certainly must get up to speed on the Eagles’ playbook, but unless there is marked improvement from him at upcoming OTAs and minicamps, Kafka may be too far in the lead in the quarterback competition to catch.
Kafka now has some game experience with Philadelphia. He had a strong showing in Week 2 against the Falcons, stepping in when Mike Vick injured his hand, completing 7-of-9 passes for 72 yards. The Eagles still lost that game 35-31 but it was no fault of Kafka’s. The game marked the notorious struggle of Philadelphia’s defense during the first part of the 2011 season.
In Week 3 against the Giants, Kafka again saw some playing time but with far worse results than his previous outing. He completed 4 of 7 passes and had 2 interceptions. But there have been no signs of this performance at practices
Third-round draft pick Nick Foles will not be an immediate option at backup for the Eagles as he needs time to learn the Eagles’ offense and adjust to the faster pace of play in the NFL. But the team likes what it sees from Foles, who is smart and what Reid describes as a good attitude about getting his head around the Eagles offense.
Is there are a third option at backup QB in the form of a player who once played that role in Philadelphia with great success? Former Eagle Jeff Garcia was Donovan McNabb’s backup in 2006 and lead the team to a 10-6 season, a division title and a defeat of the Giants in the first round of the playoffs (the Birds were defeated by the Saints in the second round). Garcia spoke with 94WIP’s Glen Macknow and Anthony Gargano and said that he so enjoyed that time in Philadelphia and how he was embraced by the fans that he would play to pay for the team again.
In reality, Garcia hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL since 2008 and is 42 years old. Even paying for a spot wouldn’t be a possibility for him at this point, but Eagles fans will always love Garcia because of what he did for the team in 2012.
There are still two months to go until training camp but unless there is a dramatic change, Mike Kafka will be the #2 quarterback for the Eagles in 2012.
Quote from Andy Reid courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles