What we know about Kafka
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What we know about Kafka
Sheil Kapadia, Philly.com
If the regular season started Sunday, Mike Kafka would be the Eagles' backup quarterback.
And while there's still a whole summer to get through, he's in place to get the call should Michael Vick suffer an injury in 2012.
As I've written before, backup quarterback is the biggest concern on the offense and one of the biggest concerns on this team. That's not meant to be a jab at Kafka, but it's important to look at the signs we've seen in the past couple years.
Last summer, the Eagles needed a backup after they traded Kevin Kolb, and they gave Vince Young a call. Fair enough. Kafka was drafted in 2010, did not get a full offseason to work with the coaches after his rookie season, and the Eagles wanted to cover themselves in case of a Vick injury. Things didn't work out according to plan, but signing a veteran quarterback was the smart move.
In April, the Eagles revealed what they thought of Kafka's ceiling when they drafted Nick Foles in the third round. Foles was a developmental pick, but the Eagles seem to think he has the upside of a quality starter in the NFL. If they felt the same way about Kafka, they probably would not have made the Foles pick.
In terms of in-game performance, there's not a lot to go by with Kafka. Against Atlanta, he came in at the end of the third quarter and played well, going 7-for-9 for 72 yards. His only incompletions were a fourth-down drop by Jeremy Maclin and a Hail Mary at the end of the game.
We saw two things from Kafka that are worth noting. One, Andy Reid wanted to play it safe with his second-year quarterback, who was seeing his first game action. Take away the Hail Mary, and six of Kafka's eight pass attempts came within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. To his credit, Kafka completed all the short throws, and while he was only asked to throw downfield once, he completed a 43-yard pass to Maclin. But overall, mostly short, quick throws.
We also got a glimpse into his football IQ, which Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have raved about over the years. The Falcons threw different looks at him, blitzing three times, dropping defensive end John Abraham into coverage and sending a defensive back from his front side. Kafka handled the pressure well, getting rid of the ball quickly and completing all three attempts against the blitz.
Against the Giants, Kafka led two drives, which both ended in interceptions. He was looking deep each time and made bad throws/poor decisions.
Overall, Kafka completed 11 of 16 passes for 107 yards and a pair of interceptions. Again, it's a small sample size, but nine of those 11 completions came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Five of them were behind the line of scrimmage. Kafka has talked this offseason about improving his arm strength, which is important, because this offense needs to hit on big plays downfield to be successful.
Since Reid became the head coach, the Eagles are 17-15 in games started by a backup quarterback. The two most successful runs were 2002 (Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley) and 2006 (Jeff Garcia). Of course, it always helps when the defense does its part and the coaches cater the offense to the backup's strengths.
In the past five seasons, the Eagles are 4-7 in games started by the backup. That includes last year's 1-2 mark with Vince Young under center.
This year, Kafka wll likely get his shot. And with free agency looming after the 2013 season, his performance will help determine which direction his career is headed.