Kafka can succeed if Vick is out

Posted Sept. 19, 2011 @ 4:45 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The news that Michael Vick suffered a concussion in Sunday night's 35-31 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta leaves the Eagles wondering who their quarterback will be when they face a key divisional game against the Giants next Sunday. Mike Kafka came in relief of Vick and completed 7-of-9 passes for 72 yards in his first NFL regular-season action. The Eagles will run Vick through a battery of post-concussion tests this week and make a judgment on his condition accordingly.

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Vick suffered his concussion with three minutes left in the third quarter as the Eagles were driving deep in Atlanta territory, and it thrust Kafka into the thick of things right away. The Eagles kept the kid gloves on him in his first few NFL plays, and seven of his nine attempts in the game were within three yards of the line of scrimmage. Andy Reid remarked after the game that perhaps he was too conservative with Kafka.

But Kafka had a nice drive-opening pass in traffic over the middle to Jeremy Maclin with 4:32 remaining as the Eagles trailed by four points. One play later, he hit Maclin on a pretty corner route for 43 yards. Kafka's ball fluttered, but it was right on the money.

Kafka was a prolific thrower in college, once turning in one of the more memorable passing lines in recent college football. Against Auburn in the 2010 Outback Bowl, Kafka completed 47-of-78 passes for 532 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions in an overtime loss that saw him rally Northwestern from 21-7 and 35-21 deficits before falling, 38-35. It was the game tape, rallying from the early slew of turnovers, that convinced the Eagles' brass that Kafka was a gamer who could fit their system perfectly.

His performance Sunday night was good, and the Eagles' recent history with in-season replacement QBs suggests that they should have no problem sending Kafka out there with a great chance to succeed on Sunday if Vick cannot play. A quick look at the last five starts by Eagles quarterbacks (from most recent to oldest) immediately following the starter getting hurt shows that Reid is not afraid to throw the ball — and that his backups often respond with big games:

Player, week, year
Comp.
Att. Yds.
TD
INT
Kevin Kolb, Week Five, 2010 21 31 251 1 0
Michael Vick, Week Two, 2010 21 34 284 2 0
Kevin Kolb, Week Two, 2009 31 51 391 2 3
A.J. Feeley, Week 12, 2007 27 42 345 3 3
Jeff Garcia, Week 12, 2006 19 23 140 2 0

Vince Young's hamstring is healing, and his presence could change the situation. Plus, there's always the chance that Vick plays Sunday. But if he can't go, it appears the Eagles will be more than comfortable having Kafka sling it. He did so in the preseason (69.4 percent completions) and would do so against the Giants.