2012 Philadelphia Eagles Preview: Is Mike Kafka a Solid Backup Quarterback?

By Bryn Swartz

Entering his 14th season as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid has learned the importance of having a quality backup quarterback. First it was Donovan McNabb and his frequent injuries, and now it’s Michael Vick and his frequent injuries.

Sometimes the Eagles have had success from the backup quarterback position. Check out Koy Detmer and AJ Feeley in 2002 or Jeff Garcia in 2006. Both helped lead the Eagles into the postseason.

Then there have been the quarterbacks like AJ Feeley in 2007 or Kevin Kolb in 2009 and 2010, who have helped keep the offense afloat without going above and beyond. Basically, they’ve been what you would expect from a backup quarterback.

And then there have been the total disasters. These are the guys who helped to ruin the season. Mike McMahon in 2005 and Vince Young in 2011 are two examples.

One thing has become clear though, and that is that the backup quarterback is almost always going to make two or three starts over the course of a 16-game season.

This year it’s Mike Kafka, the third-year quarterback, who has all but clinched the backup spot with a solid first couple of days at training camp. His competition includes rookie third round draft pick Nick Foles, who would never be thrown into the fire this quickly, and veteran Trent Edwards, who has virtually no chance to make the team.

But the big question remains: Is Kafka good enough to be the backup for this football team?

The biggest problem is that the 25-year old quarterback has barely played in his brief NFL career. He’s completed 11 of 16 passes for 107 yards and two interceptions, with those performances coming in the fourth quarters of consecutive weeks. The Eagles lost to the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Giants, and neither time Kafka could lead the Eagles to a single point. (I do not give Kafka credit for leading the Eagles the final 18 yards of a touchdown drive in the first three plays after Vick was injured in week two.)

To be honest, I’m not completely comfortable with Kafka. He is a very intelligent player but I’m not sure he has the physical tools to be a successful starting quarterback one day.

Technically, that’s not even relevant for this season though. The Eagles just need a quarterback who can play well for a couple of games if–WHEN–Vick is injured.

I think Kafka can do that. I really do. I think it helps tremendously when you have LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek on your offense.

And I don’t think Kafka is going to be the savior if Vick is injured, like Garcia in 2006. But I think he’ll be in the average tier of backup quarterbacks that I was discussing above, and if he can do that, the Eagles should be fine.

Only time will tell though. Let’s hope that this entire article is irrelevant and Vick makes it through 16 games without any injury concerns.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.

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