Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Young outplays Kafka, even with injuries

Young outplays Kafka, even with injuries

Mike Kafka scrambles away from the Jets´ Garrett McIntyre in the third quarter. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Mike Kafka scrambles away from the Jets' Garrett McIntyre in the third quarter. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

EAST RUTHERFORD -- I knew a kid who was a backup quarterback. The problem was that when he went in, so did all the other second-string guys. Once, he took a snap on his own one-yard line and disappeared instantly for what seemed like a good hour.

At the least, it seemed long enough that suffocation could be an issue.

Eventually enough bodies were peeled off the top to reveal portions of his still intact and moving body. The point is that it was hard to figure if he could play the position given the circumstances, which is another way of saying that last night’s final exhibition game between the Jets backups and the Eagles backups did little to move the speculative to the informative.

Except, maybe, in the case of Vince Young.

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Vince looked good in last night’s 24-14 Eagles victory. Again. Before he left late in the second quarter of the with what was described as a strained right hamstring, he completed 15 of 23 passes for 193 yards, adding to a solid and promising preseason that should quell some of the what-if jitters fans and media expressed after Michael Vick signed his six-year, $100 million deal this week.

He led the Eagles into scoring position during their first two possessions, including a 91-yard touchdown drive. He feathered passes, showed nice touch, ran the offense. He did this against the likes of Jamaal Westerman and Martin Tevaseu, with players such as Julian Vandervelde and Fenuki Tupou blocking for him.

Which is to say he performed with and against rookies and backups.

Still, he took a few big hits, used his 6-5, 230-pound frame to fend off one blitzer and complete a pass, threaded a 16-yard touchdown pass to Chad Hall in the middle of the end zone, might have even accumulated bigger numbers had Riley Cooper or Clay Harbor held onto tough catches.

Vince Young. Mike Kafka. Both have done well with and against the scrubs this season. One gives you athletic plays and a better-than-average arm. The other has a better grasp of the voluminous Eagles playbook, a little more accuracy perhaps, less mobility, a little less zip for sure.

The way both men were almost injured last night is a clear indication of why it will be Young, not Kafka, who goes on the field should the $100 million man pull his own muscles on a rollout, or be victimized by a few missed assignments by his still under-construction offensive line.

There’s even an uncanny déjà vu to it all, especially when Kafka was slammed to the ground last night and got up slowly. And while Young’s past in no way resembles Vick’s, he came to the Eagles a discarded and somewhat disgraced superstar, injuries and ineffectiveness costing him confidence and his starting job in Tennessee, his petulance and pouting costing him respect among some teammates and peers.

That perception is changing. Rather fast.

``I just want to make sure I’m taking care of my responsibilities as a quarterback with preparation and transferring everything from the practice field and the film room to the game,’’ Young said this week. ``I just want to go out there, manage the game, put points on the scoreboard, and show the coaches that I’m a good backup quarterback.’’

He did more than that last night. He showed them they might just be able to survive $100 million in lost assets if they have to.

Daily News Sports Columnist
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About this blog
Donnellon's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife of 26 years have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. E-mail Sam at donnels@phillynews.com
Reach Sam at donnels@phillynews.com.

Sam Donnellon Daily News Sports Columnist
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