Talkin ‘Bout Kafka

Posted: June 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 45 Comments »

For SB Nation Philly, I wrote about whether the Eagles could win with Mike Kafka at QB.  Clearly we hope he only plays in the 4th Qtr of blowouts or maybe he starts the final game since we’re 14-1 and have home field advantage locked up.

Unfortunately, Mike Vick has a habit of missing a game, two, or three each year.  There is a good chance Kafka will have to start.  Is he ready?

One aspect of the situation that I didn’t touch on in the column is how Kafka responds to pressure.  He was #3 to Vick and Kolb in 2010.  He was #3 to Vick and VY last year.  Kolb didn’t have pressure on him.  He had clearly “better” guys (vets and/or bigger names) ahead of him.

Kafka made progress from 2010 to 2011, but now he’s got the bullseye on him (where’s Babin?).  Kafka is actually dealing with a lot of pressure.  He is the top backup of a team with big aspirations.  He plays behind a guy who misses games.  That’s nerve-racking enough.

Add in the fact that the Eagles just drafted a QB in the 3rd round (higher than Kafka) and that the team says they could see him being a future starter.  Kafka’s contract runs up after 2013.

Kafka is playing for his present and his future.

That could bring out the best in him (fingers crossed) or it could prove to be too much.  He was a terrific QB at Northwestern, but this is a situation unlike anything he’s familiar with.  We have no idea how he’ll handle it.

Kafka has been good so far.  That’s encouraging, but it’s just the first questions on a lengthy test.  The tough stuff is down the road.

* * * * *

Dave Spadaro said yesterday on Twitter that he didn’t think both Riley Cooper and Marvin McNutt would make the team.

I haven’t spoken to Dave about this so I’m not sure exactly what the thinking behind it is.  If we keep 6 WRs, I think both guys have an excellent shot to be on the roster.

DJax – Mac…Avant…Cooper – McNutt – 6th guy

Maybe Dave is projecting us to just keep 5 so that we can keep a 3rd TE or extra RB or extra player on defense.  If we do keep just 5 WRs, then the thought process could be to have the Big 3 + a big guy and a small guy/RS type.

Don’t get too fired up about any of this right now.  Backup roster spots are won and lost by play on the field.  If both Cooper and McNutt are terrific, the Eagles will find a way to keep them.  If one is clearly better than the other, situation solved.  Since McNutt was just a 6th round pick, he could make it to the Practice Squad.  He’s not guaranteed a roster spot.

As for the little guys, it sounds like Chad Hall is doing a solid job and Damaris Johnson is playing really well.  PS vets Ronald Johnson and Jamel Hamler are also doing some good things.  We’ve seen this before.  Some guys light up the OTAs and then fade at Lehigh.  Some struggle in the preseason games.  This situation will sort itself out.

Worst case scenario…all the guys play well and we have the problem of too many good WRs and not enough spots.  How times have changed, huh?

* * * * *

Back to Kafka for a minute…what kind of confidence do you guys have in him to be a successful starter for 1 to 3 games?

* * * * *

Jeff McLane’s grandfather died a few days back.  Jeff wrote a really good piece on him and their relationship.  Definitely read this.  I never had much of a sports relationship with my grandfathers so that story makes me jealous.  Both of my grandfathers enjoyed watching “the ball game”, but didn’t care who was playing or what the score was.  They just wanted an excuse to sit in their favorite chair and relax.


45 Comments on “Talkin ‘Bout Kafka”

  1. 1 austinfan said at 11:30 AM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Kafka is hard to figure out (both the writer and the QB).

    He only started one year in college, but put up good numbers, though in a spread, which inflates college QB stats (lot’s of short, easy throws).
    Arm strength is a question, supposedly he’s improved in that area, doesn’t need a gun, does need to make all the throws except the deep out (how many of these does any QB make in a game?).

    He needs a lot of work, inexperienced, shotgun QB who had to learn to work in a conventional set, read defenses. He’s not a great athlete, but good size and agility (6.96 cone drill) in the pocket, but 5.0 40 tells you he’s not going to scramble for a lot of yards.

    MM claims he’s extremely smart, which is what you’d expect from a Northwestern grad.
    If he can become more consistent in his mechanics, show enough arm strength and use those smarts, he could become a NFL starting QB. He’s bigger than the Detmer boys, he should have a better arm, so if he’s as smart as them he has a real chance. In this offense, an accurate thrower who can lead his targets and quickly make reads and get rid of the ball can be highly productive, think Kolb on his good days, or Jeff Garcia, with a noodle arm.

    Foles is a stronger armed, more erratic version of Kafka, which may be a clue to the kind of QB MM/AR really want, more of a Tom Brady than a McNabb/Vick. Vick feel into their laps, but they chose Kafka and Foles.

    This summer is the make or break year for Kafka’s career, he’s in the right place with great QB coaches, a QB friendly system and elite skill players – if he doesn’t shine in the exhibition games going against second tier defenders, he’s probably never going to make it as more than a 3rd QB. Even with a makeshift OL, he’ll have Deion Lewis, Harbor, Brackett, Avant, Cooper, McNutt, Hall, etc., NFL caliber players when he gets his reps.

  2. 2 Aaron Yang said at 12:00 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    what i was thinking is that maybe spadaro said that either mcnutt or cooper wouldnt make the roster because of how damaris johnson is shining. at least thats what im hoping for…it be awesome if he could pan out to be something like djax.

  3. 3 iskar36 said at 12:18 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    But the part that doesn’t make sense with that is unless they go with only 5 WRs, Johnson can make the team with both Cooper and McNutt as well.

  4. 4 Aaron Yang said at 12:27 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    very true and i guess i didnt specify that i was trying to add to the theory of only carrying 5 wr’s. and i feel like we might do that mainly because we have a pretty crowded backfield in terms of options at back up RB. lewis, polk, brown all seem legit and i have a feeling that group has a better chance at staying large than the wr’s do…but who really knows what that statement could mean except spadaro. either way…i like the way things are looking competition wise. looks like its going to be an exciting summer leading all the way up to the season. cant wait to see some pad and helmet football being played!

  5. 5 P_P_K said at 12:38 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    This is an area where I don’t get the Eagles drafting philosophy. Are Kafka and/or Foles NFL caliber qbs? If the Eagles really think so, why did they draft both of them? If they are not sure, why did they draft either one of them? I’ll even go back to Kolb. Were the Eagles ever really “all in” with him? Have the Eagles brass truly believed any of these three were quarterbacks capable of leading the team to a Lombardi? I think we gambld on Vick and may have won, but this doesn’t demonstrate any sort of gold-standard thinking when it comes to the qb position. Anyone have a better sense of what is going on?

  6. 6 the guy said at 1:44 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I think they just believe that the QB is everything in the NFL.

    They’ve always had a starter in place since Reid first came in (McNabb, Kolb, Vick), so they haven’t needed to get a guy in the 1st round. That’s where you typically need to get a franchise QB. McNabb was a 1st round pick, Kolb was better than McNabb (or a random 1st round rookie), and Vick played better than Kolb.

    So they try out guys in later rounds, hoping to get (flawed) starting-quality guys at a discount and develop them. If it doesn’t work, well, that’s expected. If it does, either you have your new starting QB or someone you can trade. And if all you get are backup-level guys and Vick can’t put it together, then you go get a 1st round QB in 2013.

    Essentially, they’re hoping to find a Tom Brady or Drew Brees so they don’t have to pay to draft a Peyton Manning or RG3. But I have to think they will if necessary.

  7. 7 A_T_G said at 1:57 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I have a laptop that I really like. However, computers age pretty quickly. If I see a guy unloading crates of MacBooks at the Best Buy dock and one spills on the ground and the guy says he can’t sell it now, do I want it for $100, I’ll take it.

    When I get home, maybe:
    1. It works perfectly and is better than mine and I have a new computer. I sell my old one to some crazy guy from the DC area.
    2. It works, but is no better than what I have and I like mine better. I sell the new one to a friend in Arizona. It may turn out not to work well with his network. I don’t care.

  8. 8 A_T_G said at 2:00 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    (commenting problem)
    3. It isn’t nearly as good as mine because of some flaws. I sell it to a guy in Miami, take it back for free, then sell it again.
    4. It is broken, I throw it away and eat the $100.

    So far, we haven’t brought many broken computers home.

  9. 9 the guy said at 2:03 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Unfortunately, one year later neither laptop is working like they expected. But you never liked your “friends” much anyway.

    Perhaps a MacBook wasn’t the best choice. How about an HP laptop running Windows Vista?

  10. 10 A_T_G said at 2:06 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Great point. A MacBook would never last into the 3rd round.

  11. 11 P_P_K said at 2:09 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Thanks to both “the guy” and you, A_T_G. Couple things:

    1. That would have to be one crazy guy in D.C. to buy your old one. Shouldn’t he realize you’d never have let it go if it still truly worked?
    2. You shouldn’t treat your friends like that. Deep down you knew it wasn’t really going to work for him.

    And 3. If you’re hoping to score a cheap computer so you can read Iggle Blitz, sure it makes sense to buy something on the cheap. But if the computer is an essential part of your business network — and you know that from experience and looking at the success of your competitors — shouldn’t you stop farting around with mid-level equipment and invest in something high quality?

  12. 12 pjxii said at 5:42 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Brilliant analogy.

  13. 13 A_T_G said at 2:03 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Or, as another analogy, I really love my wife.

    Wait, that doesn’t work as well.

  14. 14 sonofdman said at 4:40 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Ha Ha!

  15. 15 Alex Karklins said at 2:21 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I think that Kafka will do just fine, especially when Andy and Marty can build a game plan around him, like they did with Kolb. The Eagles’ backup QBs seem to do very well, as a rule. Oh, and Vince Young is the exception that proves that rule.

    I’m hoping that Mike can change the definition of “Kafkaesque” from “Marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger” to something more like “Smart, capable, talented, and graceful under pressure.” Yeah.

  16. 16 nicolajNN said at 2:24 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I have confidence in Kafka that he can be a successful starter for a few games, but I don’t have much reason behind that. Call it selective memory but I had completely forgot the Giants game, so I lived happily thinking that in Kafka’s single showing last year he did pretty well, other than the devastating interception.

    There’s two things that give me confidence that we’ll be alright with Kafka for a game or three

    1. Reid’s pedigree of developing QBs
    2. Kafka doesn’t need to win games per se, just manage them, we have enough good players on offense that he doesn’t need to make spectacular things. Hopefully our defense helps a little as well

  17. 17 D3Keith said at 11:34 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I’d forgotten the Giants appearance too, so in my mind I’m thinking this guy completed his first seven passes and hit Maclin in the hands with an eighth in a rush-job appearance .. he might not be half bad if he had a week to prepare.

    My guess is he’s adequate, if he stays within the offense and hits our playmakers in the hands, but it would be cool if he were more than that.

  18. 18 the guy said at 2:32 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I don’t have strong feeling about Kafka, but I get more of a backup QB vibe from him. But a very good backup. If the game plan doesn’t ask him to do too much or too little, I don’t think he’ll be a liability for 1-3 games.

    I have more hope when it comes to Nick Foles. He seems to have the physical tools. Reports indicate he’s a hard worker, motivated, and the flaws people talked about when he was drafted seem to be improving.

  19. 19 the guy said at 2:37 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    BTW – One clear indication that this offense has changed over the years is that backup QBs used to do well for the Eagles. They’d scale back the plays that required starter skills and run the ball a bit more. It was effective, if not spectacular to watch.

    Kafka’s games last year were interesting from that perspective. I wonder if the coaching staff still knows how to draw up a game plan that doesn’t involve deep throws or trick plays.

  20. 20 Alex Karklins said at 2:41 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    But both of Kafka’s games were situations where he had to come in in the middle of the game, without a game plan designed around him. Kolb also struggled when in the same kind of situation. It would be nice if the coaches could adjust to a different QB mid-game, but I think that’s pretty rare.

  21. 21 Aaron Yang said at 4:05 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    would it be a little far fetched to say that im hoping nick foles turns out to be a poor mans Ben Roethlisberger if not on the same level or better? they are both huge with strong arms…not sure if foles can move around as much as big ben can. but i really hated and was pretty pissed when we picked foles up in the third but after i read up more about him and watched grudens qb camp and stuff of that nature…i started hoping that this guy can compare favorably to big ben. anyone else feel somewhat similar as me or have anything to input on this?

  22. 22 A_T_G said at 10:02 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I see no reason not to be cautiously optimistic until give a reason.

  23. 23 ian_no_2 said at 4:10 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Edwards didn’t get reps on the first day of OTAs. There may be some other explanation of this, but it may mean that they are planning to grab a FA a little later, whether it’s Feeley as the bridge to Foles backing up, Diva no. 5 or a developmental possibility like Dennis Dixon. There was some scout that told a local columnist that they think Kafka backing up is a weak point of the team, and with DJax and Maclin you want a vertical game.

  24. 24 iskar36 said at 4:17 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    I’ll be honest, I’m very nervous about Kafka. I don’t think he has shown the ability yet to come in for a few games and win. And honestly, you could argue that right now, outside of the year we had Mike McMahon as the backup, this is the least talented backup QB we have had under AR. I would have been a lot more confident if we brought in some competition for the backup spot. If he won out in a legitimate competition, I would have been a lot more confident, but to be handed the job with what he has shown so far is a major risk to me.

    In addition, while Tommy pointed out the pressure that is on Kafka in terms of having the responsibility to be a suitable backup, I actually view it the exact opposite way. Right now, he has very little pressure on him. No one is going to challenge him for the backup spot. At the time of the Edwards signing, I commented that Edwards was not going to even be close as a competition to Kafka, and that has been fairly clear so far. As for Foles, Kafka has two years of learning the play book on Foles and there should be no reason a 3rd round rookie QB takes Kafka’s spot. The only pressure Kafka has on him is to perform when given an opportunity, but if we are worried about whether or not he can handle that, why would he have been drafted in the first place. At the time he was drafted, he was expected to eventually be in the mix as the starter for the future. If he can’t handle pressure as a backup, no way would he be able to handle pressure as an eventual starter. I just see the pressure that is on him now is minimal with respect to what should be expected of an NFL player in his third year.

  25. 25 D3Keith said at 11:55 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Players that should never again be mentioned round these parts:
    1. Jarrad Page
    2. Mike McMahon
    3. Brad Goebel
    4. Lorenzo Booker/Tony Hunt
    5. Bobby Hoying
    6. Jon Harris
    7. Sean Considine
    8. Quinton McCoy-Gardner O’Caver
    9. Bryce Paup
    10. Joe Jurevicius

  26. 26 the guy said at 12:01 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    11. T.O.
    12. Steve Smith

  27. 27 D3Keith said at 11:24 PM on June 4th, 2012:

    GOOD call on Steve Smith.

    I figured T.O. and FredEx did some good things and were too fun to never be mentioned again. McDougle will always be at the center of ‘bad luck or a bust?’ debate. Shawn Andrews had to be allowed too.

  28. 28 Cliff said at 1:00 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    DOUBLE-FREAKING-YES to Mike McMahon. Holy crap, those were the worst few months of my life.

  29. 29 T_S_O_P said at 11:30 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    MM made comments about Booker very similar to those he made about Kafka, I was going to mention it, in fact, I just have, before reading this.

  30. 30 TommyLawlor said at 1:39 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    Little pressure? His NFL future is on the line. That’s a six or seven-figure job vs grinding out life in some profession. Huge pressure in that regard alone.

  31. 31 iskar36 said at 2:00 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    Yes, his job is on the line and I fully agree that is pressure, but frankly, every single player who gets drafted into the NFL has to deal with that pressure. Every single one has to show at some point they can make in the NFL, otherwise, they get cut. So to me, I don’t see how Kafka has any more pressure on him than any other NFL player who has yet to establish himself. And on the contrary, I think the Eagles have minimized that pressure by handing him the job and not making him work for the backup spot when he has not proven (at least to me) that he can come in an win games if/when Vick goes down.

    I would have much rather the Eagles put real pressure on Kafka by bringing in competition for the backup job and making Kafka show that he can rise to that challenge and win the job.

  32. 32 Cliff said at 6:32 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Two WR’s that I really liked when they were here were Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola. Both guys were banged up last year for the Rams, but I wonder what our WR picture would like if these two were still around.

  33. 33 D3Keith said at 11:55 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    We’d have the league’s best No. 5 WRs, and a couple of draft picks back.

  34. 34 aub32 said at 9:39 PM on June 2nd, 2012:

    Hey Tommy as always love the read. I wanted to touch on the Kafka and receiver issue. I don’t think we really need Kafka to be all that great. As long as he can show decent accuracy and limit mistakes, that should be enough. As you mentioned we have a lot of guys with really good RAC ability. He doesn’t need a cannon. If he were to start I’m sure Reid would go more traditional west offense, which doesn’t include so many down the field bombs. Also as long as Shady doesn’t go down as well (can’t imagine what type of play could cause you to lose your QB and RB simultaneously but let’s not try to find it) then he will still have the a great running game to lean on. Ultimately I think the play of the defense will have the biggest role on how Kakfa performs. If they can play up to their talent level than we won’t need Kafka to come off the bench and pull a Matt Flynn.

    In regards to the receiver situation I can’t picture them not keeping six WRs. This is simply because if DJax or Mac goes down, Jason Avant can’t replace them on the outside. Cooper has been the guy to go to the outside in case of injury and I don’t think Reid & Co. will entrust that duty to a rookie. I know this does lean to the theory McNutt could then be put on the PS, but based on how effective he’s shown to be in the RZ, I would think you have to give him some chances. Perhaps they could go with Maclin, Cooper, and McNutt within the 10 yd line.

    Would like to hear your thoughts. Keep up the great work.

  35. 35 TommyLawlor said at 1:38 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    If we go light at WR, likely will be to keep an extra TE. That guy would be like a big WR in some sense. Don’t forget that angle.

    Avant can’t play outside. Agree with that. Team must have someone they trust to replace DJax or Mac. This is probably Cooper. We’ll see if McNutt or Damaris or someone else stands out.

    If we do keep big guys, I’m sure they will be part of a RZ package. Gotta get bigger down there.

    You’re right in talking about the D being key to Kafka winning, but as I said in the column, this isn’t the 2002 Eagles. We have good weapons now and need to get them the ball. That’s who we are. I’m not sure that “not losing” games is good enough anymore.

  36. 36 Cliff said at 12:53 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    You know what, I don’t get the Kafka stuff. I don’t think he played all that bad when he subbed for Vick against Atlanta. If we had won that game, I wonder how the perception of Kafka would be then.

  37. 37 TommyLawlor said at 1:31 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    Would change a lot.

    It is fair to doubt him. After 2 years, we still know basically nothing. Part isn’t his fault, but he did have the chance to show us something and it was only so-so.

  38. 38 P_P_K said at 10:47 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    I want to harp on my feeling that the Eagles shouldn’t be wasting draft choices on back-up quarterbacks. There are always some vets around in free-agency that can fill in sufficiently in case of injury. Besides, it’s hard for a team to get a back-up qb enough snaps to really show his stuff. It’s a different situation when a team invests significantly in a young qb and commits to him, allowing him to play through his learning curve because they believe it will play dividends in the future.

    I know I’ll take heat for this, but Trent Edwards is a better backup, at this point, thank Kafka or Foles. Simply because he knows what it is like to suit up and run an NFL offense.

  39. 39 pjxii said at 11:33 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    Not giving you heat for a logical comment, but it seems that Edwards is shot. Experience as a starter doesn’t help when your skills have eroded. It certainly makes sense for the Eagles to give Kafka every opportunity to prove himself this year, and make assessment after this (Super Bowl winning) season.

  40. 40 iskar36 said at 11:36 AM on June 3rd, 2012:

    I think you’re throwing out a blanket argument here with Edwards. You’re basically arguing that any QB who has suited up in the NFL before is a better QB, and I just don’t think that’s true. In Edwards case, all the recent evidence suggests he is not even close to Kafka. He went unsigned all last year by all 32 teams and has had his reps in OTAs completely taken away (yea, he has his mechanics being worked on, but regardless, you can’t tell me it is a good sign). Personally, I would love to believe Edwards is a better backup that can actually play, but saying that is purely wishful thinking, not the likely situation.

  41. 41 P_P_K said at 2:26 PM on June 3rd, 2012:

    Reply to both you and pjxii. Thanks for thoughtful comments.

    I made two arguements that should probably have been separated. The first was that I don’t like the way the Eagles draft qbs. I actually like Kafka as a player, but I don’t think he’s going to play much and I don’t see the Eagles making a commitment to him. Drafting guys to hold a clipboard doesn’t make good sense to me. Am I the only one who feels this way or is there something I’m failing to grasp?

    As for Edwards, yea, you are right, I’m making a blanket statement about qbs wih experience. In Edwards case I may have over-reached (ok, you’re right, I definitely did over-reach), but I still tend to be more comfortable with a guy who has spent time under center over a rook or second year guy with very limited experience. At least I know what I am getting. In a rebuilding phase, yea, put the young guys in and let them play. But with Super Bowl aspirations, give me a vet that has spent time on the field. If you’re a coach and you’re not confident in your guy, like Trent, then get someone else. Ain’t time for experiements or development.

  42. 42 the guy said at 3:30 PM on June 3rd, 2012:

    It’s related to the point I tried to make earlier in the thread: QBs are so valuable in the NFL, it’s almost impossible to waste a pick on them.

    Every Eagles QB almost always misses games, no matter who he is. Unless he just doesn’t work out as an NFL QB, the backup *will* play.

    Getting a veteran backup may make more sense to the fans, but the Eagles coaches prefer to develop their own guys. It’s hard for me to second-guess them on that topic, even if (like you) I’d prefer them to have gone out and gotten a decent vet backup. Keep in mind though, last year they *did* go and get a talented backup QB.

  43. 43 iskar36 said at 5:15 PM on June 3rd, 2012:

    To your first comment about drafting QBs to hold a clipboard, I actually disagree with that. I think there is value to drafting a “backup qb”. In other words, drafting a guy who you think can come in for spot duties but you already have your starter in place for the near future (we can argue if Vick is really that later, but that’s a separate debate). To me, especially with a starter like Vick who is injury prone, it is important to have a guy who knows the system, knows the players, and can prevent you from loosing games when the starter goes down for a few games. That guy doesn’t have to necessarily be your QB of the future or a guy you would want starting 16 games, but he should be a talented enough player that you don’t have to completely restructure your offense for him.

    As for Edwards, or at least the general comment you are making, I do agree that having a QUALITY veteran would have been preferable. I’ve been beating that drum a lot already. That being said, for me, I wanted a quality vet to be brought in and then have Kafka compete with him for a job. If Kafka won the competition in the preseason and TC, I take the risk of going with the inexperienced guy who looked better over the guy with the experience.

  44. 44 Alex Karklins said at 12:37 PM on June 3rd, 2012:

    So it looks like Babin won’t be running with the bulls after all:

    Who do you think got through to him? Vick? Cole? Washburn? Or did this have to go all the way up the chain to Andy?

  45. 45 Random Eagles links and notes said at 9:39 PM on June 3rd, 2012:

    […] Lawlor, a contributor to the Eagles’ official website, has talked about whether Mike Kafka can be trusted as a reliable backup to Michael Vick at quarterback. Speaking of Kafka, it should be interesting to […]