Vick’s Other Job & More Backup QB Talk

Posted: June 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 22 Comments »

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.


  • http://Website Dan in Philly

    +1000 on Vick being a draw, everything I know about him screams out for other NFL players to want to play with him. He’s not only a great and unique QB, his life story is compelling, all the skill players grew up wanting to be him in Madden, and throw in that he’s more mature and seems to be a true leader, and you’ve got the makings of a once in a lifetime kind of true on and off the field leader.

  • http://Website Kyle

    Re our 2nd QB, no disagreement on Kalfa being untested in games. Given the situation, it would make sense to keep Kolb for that role. If Kolb leaves in a trade for draft pick, we can’t have the direct benefit until next season. If we get a player in that trade, depending who he is, it may or may not give us the help for the upcoming season.

    Other veteran QBs out there who can also play in our offense, Hasselbeck sounds interesting, but he may still want to have a starter role. I have not followed AJ Feeley since he left. If he can still play, he definitely has the knowledge and experience to run our offense in a supporting role. He won’t cause a lot to have either.

  • http://Website Netherman

    Would you consider VY?

  • http://igglesblitz.com Tommy Lawlor

    AJ Feeley is the backup for the Rams. He’d be of interest if available, but I don’t think that will be the case.

    RE: Vince Young

    I have real mixed feelings on Vince. Could he handle the highs and lows of Philly? Remember, he was bothered by the pressure in Tennessee. That’s nothing compared to here.

    I also question how coachable he is. I think at Texas and with Titans he did a lot of his own thing. Not sure how that would fly with a guy like Andy who has his hands all over the offense. Jeff Fisher was a defensive guy so he was likely to be more forgiving if VY was awkward with the offensive coaches.

  • http://Website Thunderlips

    As you all know, first prize is a Superbowl ring.
    Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a game worn jersey.
    Third prize is you’re cut.

  • http://Website mcud

    @Tommy

    We can agree to disagree on this one. You make a compelling point about the situation being different when Feeley had to start games. I guess i’d counter with the fact that having a much more talented set of skill players should make things easier for Kafka, should he have to play. Andy is the QB guru. If he goes into the season with Kafka as the #2, that’s all the show of faith I require. This isnt FB or KR. Andy takes his QB depth chart seriously.

    Kafka isnt ideal, but I’d rather give him the 2nd half of whatever game he relieves Vick than throw Delhomme or Grossman out there. If he’s terrible, call Garcia for the stretch. If its a season ending injury to Vick, we’re screwed anyway…

  • http://igglesblitz.com Tommy Lawlor

    “If its a season ending injury to Vick, we’re screwed anyway…”

    I hope you know what’s coming.

    “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! Nothing’s over til we say it is.” (out of sequence for effect)

    You know the Eagles never do anything the easy way. Odds are that we’ll win our first Super Bowl with a backup QB. That way our celebration will last one day before the QB controversy starts.

  • http://Website iskar36

    @mcud

    I agree with you to an extent on the fact that Andy is a QB guru and takes the depth at the position seriously. *IF* AR ends up going into the season with Kafka as the primary backup, while I would be VERY VERY concerned, I would take comfort in the fact that AR trusts Kafka to backup well. That being said, even though I trust AR with the QB position, that doesn’t mean he can force a guy to come to Philly. He could try very hard to bring in Hasselbeck, or any of the other key QB targets in, but just not be able to rope any of them in because other teams end up paying more/offer starting spots. While I think there is enough talent out there that we can get *someone*, I do have concerns that we might not be able to get a guy like Hasselbeck or some of the other better names out there who may be looking to try and compete for a starting spot (many of those teams that just drafted a rookie for example).

    Regardless of what happens, I strongly doubt they go into the season with just Vick and Kafka. They will definitely want at least a 3rd string QB for insurance. With that being said, I highly doubt Kafka is any more proven than any potential target we bring in, even if we bring in another developmental QB. So at the very best, Kafka will have to compete for the primary backup role. There is no chance he is simply handed that role.

  • http://igglesblitz.com Tommy Lawlor

    @ Thunder Lips…

    Well played sir.

  • http://Website Eaglesfanatlarge

    Wasn’t it the Japanese that bomber Pearl harbor? Ah, nevermind, he’s on a roll.

    How important is it that the backup QB have the same style as Vick? Mike has a rocket arm, is great with the long ball, seems to be less accurate on the short passes, and has great mobility. If Mike goes down in the middle of a game, does it make it a lot harder to plug in someone with a very differnt style? Say a pocket passer, with good short-range accuracy, an arm that is less capable of making the deep throws, and who doesn’t handle pressure as well (cough, KK, cough)? Does that throw off the game plan? Does that throw off the overall offensive plan for the season if you need him for multiple games? Or is it just a case of swapping out a few plays? If the Eagles are targeting a veteran, will they be targeting a Vick look-alike, or just BQBA?

  • http://Website mcud

    @iskar

    They definitely won’t go into the season with just two QBs. If the backup is going to be Kafka, then I would hope its because of this scenario:

    - A veteran is signed, and Kafka beats him out in the preseason. Then, would it really make sense to keep said veteran around as a 3rd QB? Then, another developmental prospect is brought in who is even more raw than Kafka is. Pryor perhaps?

    Its always about value for me. Kafka is in his 2nd year, generally the year players make their biggest improvement. Kevin Kolb was the primary backup in his 2nd season, so its not unprecedented for Andy (furthermore, I’d go as far to say that if Kolb doesn’t throw that 2nd INT vs. Baltimore, that we might have seen the end of the McNabb era right there.) There might not be an attractive veteran who will come here. And even if there is, is it a better gamble to hope you can squeeze one more year out of whatever sliding veteran you are going to sign than it is to hope Kafka is a bit ahead of the curve?

    Finally, as it generally does with me, it comes down to money. The extra 2-3 million that you are going to spend on a less-than-slam-dunk veteran QB could be the difference in whether we re-sign Bradley or Mikell, or if we have the coin to bring in Asomugha. Every dollar counts.

    The discussion could end up moot I suppose. If no team is willing to give up 1000 draft value points (a 1st or two 2s, etc.), then I think we might be better off just letting Kolb stay for one more year. You could always trade him next offseason after slapping the franchise tag on him, if absolutely necessary. You’d be trading future return for less future return + stability at QB for 2011.

  • http://igglesblitz.com Tommy Lawlor

    @ mcud…

    Don’t forget timetable with Kolb. He was a guy we aggressively went after and “knew” was our QB of the future. Grooming him was important.

    Kevin led the NFL in pass attempts in his rookie preseason. The coaches gave him a ton of reps. It helped that he was behind McNabb and Feeley and they didn’t need much work.

    Kafka threw 59 passes last summer. Kolb threw 106 as a rookie. Mike also didn’t get the kind of practice time during the season that Kevin did back then. Mike needs another year of seasoning before he’s truly ready for the field.

  • http://Website ian no 2

    I like bringing Tavaris in. He is a guy who may benefit from new surroundings, may favor the Eagles’ system, accepting the backup for that reason and because other GMs are afraid to take a chance on him starting. I don’t think Hasselbeck will go for a team where he’s not at least competing for no. 1 unless someone offers him lots of money to back up. Maybe Gradkowski.

    There’s something to be said for Kafka being better than some of the second-tier choices. QBs are generally ready to justify playing time by their second year if they’re going to be good at all. I have general concerns about Kafka’s deep arm, but I think he can be an NFL backup next year. Generally, QBs drafted below the 1st round play when there’s no other option, because coaches don’t like to look bad.

    But if you don’t bring in a vet QB, what sort of developmental #3 would you end up with? A journeyman FA or a UDFA that you didn’t pick with a zillion low picks. A guy like Tavaris could compete with Kafka for the no. 1 developmental slot. Also you want to develop Vick, who has plenty of years ahead of him.

  • Marlon B

    Yo whats up fam! im a big time eagles fan ya feel me! this article had sum key points and good jants too! but i totally disagree that mike kafka could be a legit back up QB like my man said AR aint just trusting anybody with that position….point blank. Kafka if u dont remember bought us back in that game agianst Cin in the preseason ,yea it was preseason but still he took command of the offense quick cuz he didnt have alot of time…and threw the touchdown pass to riely cooper! 2 min drill!! so he aint a bum! he was on his shit at northwestern its not hard to transition to a pro style offense if u took a few out of a pro style?!!? but we goin to the bowl…Best offense, best defense, best speacil teams unit, best players, and most of all best coaches and organization in the league…not jus sayin this because ima an eagle fan!! dead serious and its soo real we mite make a 2-3 year run wit it too!!! qoute!!

  • http://Website McG

    Don’t mean to be pessimistic (although that is the Eagle way) but, I just don’t see Hasselback coming here…

    Having said that, I think I would be ok with either Mark Bulger or Tavaris Jackson as our #2. The prospect of having 3 developmental QBs makes me personally lean a bit toward Bulger…

    TBH my greatest interest in free agency is seeing if we can land Charles Johnson from the panthers. If we can land him and Fat Albert, that makes our RCB that much less of an issue, although it appears we will have a plethora of options with the 4 yr req. being leaked for the new CBA.

  • http://Website eagleizeit

    If other teams don’t think of Kolb as a game changer 4 their team at the most important position we should keep him, especially if Vick might get hurt for a few games; might be difference btwn SB and not. Atlanta thought the 2nd best WR in the draft(unproven player) who’ll touch the ball maybe 6 to 7 times a game is a game changer who’s worth a 1,2 and 3 in 2011 and a 1 and 3 next yr. If someone can’t give a little (1,2 and best CB on team), in comparison, then they aren’t at all interested in a proven young QB who’s been the offensive player of the week in 1/3 of the games he’s started and finished. Technically using Atlanta’s formula and translateing it to a QB, Kolb, he’d be worth at least twice as much as what they gave up for an unproven player that could be a flop(4 1′s 2 2′s and 4 3′s).

  • http://Website Name

    Their best CB this yr, 1st rd pick in 2012 and 2nd in 2013 is more than fair. I’d be comfortable with Kafka being the #2 if AR feels he’s ready. He knows the system, players and the way things work here better than anyone we’d bring in with a month or two b4 the season starts could learn. I think Hassleback’s been overrated since his back problem and like Donovan will take a while to adjust to everything. Besides Kafka would get a lot more reps in camp if he were the backup, be more prepared and there’d be more money available. I was wondering if any of our DT’s besides Patterson have more than a yr. left on their contracts and since Denver’s going to rework Dawkin’s contract; if the Eagles would like to bring him back as a backup for less money.

  • http://Website FYzx Guy

    I would say that whatever backup we bring in should be left handed. Last year in games when we switched qb’s, we lost all of them. One reason I thought was the switch in the blind side of the qb. This is why I want Matt Leinhart to be the back up if we could get him.

  • http://Website Chris

    Kind’ve off topic, but with Schefter reporting that 4 year vets will be likely become free agents, who do you think the Eagles will pursue?

  • http://Website Anirudh

    Tommy – your PE.com piece has to be one of the best you’ve written so far. Loved it.

    For the few out there who haven’t seen the performance referenced at the end.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WCcKIkMp8Y

  • http://Website Davesbeard

    I can imagine Tommy is working himself up into a frenzy writing about just that Chris!

  • http://Website PhxPhilly

    Early in the offseason I suggested that Tavaris Jackson should be the primary target for backup QB for the Eagles, assuming Childress gave a recommendation for his drafted QB to Reid. I think they pursue him at the start of free agency for 2yr $3M deal.

    System is likely the same, which is important with a shortened preseason. He had some good games late season and playoffs a couple years ago. He has a similar style as Vick. I think he may have some residual potential.

    I don’t think Hasselback or Bulger will take the Eagles backup option, at least not early on.