Saturday, February 6, 2016

Three notes on Kafka

After taking a closer look at Mike Kafka's performance Sunday night, here are three notes to share:

Three notes on Kafka

Mike Kafka was seven for nine against Atlanta after replacing Mike Vick, who left with an injury. (David Maialetti/Staff file photo)
Mike Kafka was seven for nine against Atlanta after replacing Mike Vick, who left with an injury. (David Maialetti/Staff file photo)

After taking a closer look at Mike Kafka's performance Sunday night, here are three notes to share:

1. For discussion purposes, let's take away the final Hail Mary throw. Kafka really finished 7-for-8 for 72 yards, with his only incompletion coming on the Jeremy Maclin drop on fourth down. Of those eight attempts, six came within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. The only time Kafka was asked to throw downfield was the 43-yard bomb to Maclin. Kafka was patient on the throw and placed it perfectly into Maclin's hands.

He had one intermediate throw (6-15 yards from the line of scrimmage), a 9-yard completion to Maclin. But most of his throws were quick hits to Maclin and LeSean McCoy. Actually, all of his throws were to Maclin (six targets) and McCoy (two targets). To Kafka's credit, he threw the short balls with great accuracy, which is important so the receivers can make plays after the catch.

2. The man was not confused by the blitz. Michael Vick burned the Falcons' blitz earlier in the game, and Kafka did an excellent job of seeing where the pressure was coming from and making quick decisions.

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On the first play of the drive that started at the 4:48 mark of the fourth quarter, the Falcons zone-blitzed, sending five at Kafka. Defensive end John Abraham dropped back from his right defensive end position, and a linebacker and defensive back blitzed Kafka’s front side, between Todd Herremans and Kyle DeVan. Kafka took the snap from shotgun and seemed to know exactly what he was looking at, getting rid of the ball quickly and hitting Maclin for a 9-yard pickup over the middle.

Later in that drive, the Falcons zone blitzed again. Abraham dropped back from the right defensive end position, and they sent six defenders at Kafka (two linebackers and a defensive back from Kafka’s front side). He saw it and calmly floated a swing pass to McCoy that picked up 7.

And finally, on the third-down play before the Maclin drop, the Falcons showed six at the line of scrimmage. Kafka looked like he made a pre-snap adjustment, although I’m not sure if that meant changing the play. The Falcons rushed five, and he hit Maclin on a quick throw, but the play lost a yard.

Overall, 3-for-3 for 15 yards on the drive against the blitz.

When the Falcons rushed four, he was 4-for-4 for 57 yards. On the fourth-down play, the Falcons only sent three. Kafka made a good decision and a good throw, but Maclin, who was great all game, couldn't hang on.

3. If Vick can't go against the Giants, the Eagles will have to make a decision between Kafka and Vince Young. If Young isn't healthy, the decision is an easy one. But if he is healthy, it becomes more difficult.

The coaching staff will have to cultivate a specific game plan, depending on which quarterback they choose. If it's Kafka, that probably means working the intermediate routes and choosing their spots to go deep. It's worth noting though that the Giants have allowed 11 pass plays of 20+ yards in two games. Only four teams have allowed more. In other words, they are very susceptible to the big plays.

If it's Young, they'll have to work to his strengths. He hasn't been around the offense as long as Kafka and looked lost at times during training camp, but Young seemed to be making strides in that fourth preseason game. He brings talent, athleticism and experience to the table with 47 starts under his belt. He's also better equipped to hit on big plays, which is normally what this offense relies on.

We'll find out in the next few days whether Vick can go, whether Young is healthy and who the Eagles end up going with.

If you missed it earlier, I posted Man Up and defended the play of the Eagles' offensive line.

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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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