One of the Philadelphia Eagles position battles that got much more intriguing after last night’s come from behind 24 – 23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Obviously, Michael Vick has the starting job locked up as long as he is healthy. His health, however, was in doubt for a short period of time last night after he hit his throwing hand on the helmet of center Jason Kelce. Luckily for the Philadelphia faithful, x-rays came back negative (for those that aren’t aware, negative is good thing when it comes to x-rays).
Since the departure of Vince Young, 3rd year pro Mike Kafka has been promoted to backup quarterback, despite lacking any real experience in meaningful NFL competition. Kafka played ok in a few appearances last year, but certainly did not overly impress anyone. Last night, Kafka looked awful. He seemed to not know where to go with the ball and was too easily rattled by even the thought of the Steelers defense pressuring him. The Eagles have touted Kafka’s decision – making as a big part of the reason they have been so high on him. His decision – making was severely lacking last night, and I’m not sure how many opportunities he is going to get.
Part of the reason that Kafka might not get many more opportunities as the backup is the fact that rookie quarterback Nick Foles, the Eagles 2012 third round pick out of Arizona, looked very good in his first “meaningful” professional appearance. Foles, who is 6’6” and in the neighborhood of 240 pounds has a monster arm. It was that arm, as well as his ability to get the ball out quickly that allowed him to break the Arizona records for yardage, touchdowns, attempts and completions. Foles looked confident in the pocket, stared down the rush and still delivered the ball where it needed to be and ran through his progressions nicely for a rookie. He also showed that, at 6’6” he can move his feet very well; especially when he scrambled to his right, kept his head up looking for a receiver, and found fellow rookie Damaris Johnson for a 70 yard touchdown pass.
Veteran and current 4th stringer, Trent Edwards also looked pretty good in his first performance as an Eagle. He put together a nice touchdown drive to get the Eagles back into the game. He also showed great clock management skills on the drive where he got the Birds in position to kick the field goal that would give them the lead with under :20 left in the game. If he doesn’t stick with the Eagles this year, this performance could very well have showed other teams in the league that he is worth a look.
Coming into the year, I would have said Kafka was the clear-cut backup to Mike Vick. After training camp and this first preseason game, I’m not so sure any longer. Granted, it’s only 1 game, but Kafka has been unimpressive all around in his time with the Eagles. If Foles can build off of his first performance, there’s a good chance he will win the backup job.