For PE.com I wrote about Mike Vick and his value as a salesman. One of the key reasons free agents will want to come to Philly to play with #7. I just wish Lurie/Banner would get him one of those Century 21 gold blazers to wear when he’s talking to free agents. Get him the coat, have him watch Glengarry Glen Ross a couple of times and the rest will be history. And for god’s sake…give him some of the new leads.
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We talked about the need for a backup QB the other day. In the comments section mcud made the point that outside of a couple of top players, we’re just as good going with Mike Kafka. I strongly disagree.
We’re expecting to challenge for a Super Bowl in 2011. Should Vick go down, you don’t want a second-year, unproven QB leading a team that is built around the offense. The Colts and Pats rolled the dice in recent years with mediocre backups, but Peyton Manning and Tom Brady don’t have a history of missing games. Vick is a very different player. We saw that last year. Vick took a big hit in the first Skins game. He missed the rest of that game and the next 3 as well. We went 2-2 in those games.
Vick takes chances when he runs. He’s trying to be smarter about that, but his instincts lead him to be aggressive and get as many yards as possible. That exposes him to open field hits. That raises the chances for injury.
With Vick at the helm I don’t think you can afford to have a question at backup QB. You might point to 2002 when A.J. Feeley led the Eagles to a 4-1 record. He was in his second year and was largely unproven. The thing to remember is that he was the #3 QB. Koy Detmer was the backup, but got hurt in the SF game on Monday night. Feeley did an admirable job, but that team was built around defense. We had a strong set of RBs in Duce Staley, Dorsey Levens, and young Brian Westbrook. We could play ball control on offense and then let the defense and STs units do their thing.
The 2011 Eagles are a much different story. This team has an explosive offense and that is the key to the team. You must have the right QBs in place for this team to be at its best. Vick is the starter. Kafka is fine as the #3 QB. We need a veteran backup. God forbid Vick is hurt for half the season or isn’t able to play in the postseason. Just look at what happened with Arizona last year. In the 3 years with Warner at the helm they won 8, 9, and 10 games. He leaves and they fall to 5-11, and that was playing in an awful division. Offensive teams must have good QBs.
Kafka is a player I definitely like. He’s got the skills and physical ability to be an NFL starter. Good size. Good athlete. Natural leader. Very competitive. Handles pressure well. Good passer, with a good enough arm. Tough. There is plenty to like. I’m just not ready to hand over the keys to our offense to him yet. He didn’t play in an pro style system in college. He didn’t start a ton of games. Northwestern isn’t exactly a QB factory for the NFL. Let’s have Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg, and QB coach Doug Pederson work with Kafka and get him ready to be the primary backup in 2012 or 2013.
Someone asked about Kafka as a future starter. The Eagles think he can develop into a starting QB, but that would be several years down the road. Did he look like John Elway last summer? No, but that’s not a big deal. Matt Hasselbeck was on Green Bay’s Practice Squad in 1998. He then made the team in 1999 as a backup. Matt was great in the 2000 preseason and that gave him good trade value. He went to Seattle in 2001. He had to battle for the QB job with Trent Dilfer, but eventually won that and ran the team for years. Be patient with Kafka.
I would take any of the key veteran backups over Kafka at this point. I’m talking about Jake Delhomme, Marc Bulger, Bruce Gradkowski, and even Rex Grossman. He played well late last year and has started in a Super Bowl. I don’t think we’ll be looking at second tier backup QBs like Billy Volek, Kellen Clemens, and Luke McCown. Andy knows we need a good backup. I hope he goes hard after Matt Hasselbeck, first and foremost. He would be a terrific backup QB. I do admit to having some interest in Tarvaris Jackson. He isn’t the kind of passer we ideally need, but there is something to like. He is a very good runner. He’s got the physical skills to be a good passer. He needs to be developed. Reid and crew have shown they can do that.
The litmus test for me is would I be comfortable with the QB starting against the Jets in Week 15, with us fighting for a playoff spot, the division title, or even the #1 seed in the NFC. Comfortable…not happy. Comfortable. Would the QB give us a chance to win? Kafka? I seriously doubt it. Find a veteran who has ability left and who has had some success in big games in the past.
We can’t approach the backup QB situation casually. We need a good option in place. We need someone who can practice with the team this summer. We need someone who is ready to go when called upon. Again, we’re an offensive team. We’re not going to win many 13-10 games. We need to put up 24 points. That means good QB play. That means having the right guy in place in case Vick goes down.
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Former NFL Safety Matt Bowen is a regular contributor to the National Football Post. He’s doing a regular series called Inside the Playbook this spring/summer. Today he covered the Eagles and Andy Reid’s High-Low passing concepts. Good read.
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Akeem Jordan got arrested recently. That’s not a good way to make the Eagles want to bring you back. Or is it? Maybe all the talk of Big Al and Plax confused Jordan and he thought a rap sheet would make him more attractive. That’s what the Eagles get for sending mixed signals.