Battle of the Backups: Mike Kafka vs. Trent Edwards

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18: Mike Kafka #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks to pass against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It isn't Mayweather vs. Pacquio. Heck, it isn't even Kramer vs. Kramer. But the camp battle between backup QBs Mike Kafka and the newly signed Trent Edwards could end up being one of the team's most significant storylines next season.

Let's start with what we know: Michael Vick will be running the offense next year. And boy, does Vick like to run. He'ss very good at it, but he also takes a ton of hits and is about as durable as Brian Westbrook . And as Eagle Nation learned in 2005 (and again last season) having a solid backup is a must.

This backup doesn't have to be anything more than a game manager who can get through four quarters without singlehandedly losing the game. This means, for example, not throwing four picks against a subpar Seattle team.

Seemingly every aspect of last year's Vince Young Experiment was abysmal. Thanks to Young, Philadelphians will never be able to talk about the 1992 Olympic basketball squad in the same way. And even at his best, Young always looked lost. Perhaps it was with that in mind that Andy Reid, himself a quarterback man (I'm guessing he's also a butt man, but that's pure speculation), decided go with a more conventional backup plan.

Give the Eagles some credit: Andy Reid has given the Eagles a serviceable backup nearly his entire tenure in Philadelphia. Guys like Jeff Garcia, AJ Feeley and Kevin Kolb have gotten starting gigs based on their performances as Eagles. Even the failings of Young had more to do with the quarterback than the coaches.

A quarterback in the West Coast mold, Edwards comes to Philly after being out of the game last season. In 2010 he was cut by the Bills and subsequently signed by Jacksonville. He entered training camp with Oakland last year, but didn't make it out. His career passer rating is a mediocre 75.6, but again, he's not expected to carry this team to a Super Bowl win.

Meanwhile, Kafka is entering his third year with the team and his first with a full offseason as an Eagle. Though maligned by many, Kafka was respectable in limited action last year. And were it not for a costly fourth quarter drop by Jeremy Maclin, he may have won the Week 2 contest in Atlanta. However, Kafka has yet to throw a touchdown in the NFL.

One would guess the coaches would like to see Kafka win this battle. Both Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have said they view Kafka as a starter down the line. But unless one clearly outplays the other in the preseason, the backup job will likely go to the guy with a better command of the offense. Edwards has longer-term starting experience, but Kafka has a couple seasons in the scheme under his belt. And with both QBs owning a similar skill set, there likely won't be much between them. The coaches speak highly of Kafka's work ethic; now is the time for him to prove it.

Athletically, neither quarterback will come close to doing the things Vick can do. What the backup will need to do is fill in a couple games mid-season, hand the ball off and not turn it over. Anything more is gravy, and the offense is certainly talented enough to make up for any short-term quarterback deficiencies. The hope is that this conversation is ultimately moot. But the Eagles are being smart, and they deserve credit for that.

After all, none of us want to sit through another Mike McMahon-led primetime butt-whooping.


For more NFL news, notes and irreverence, follow Patrick Wall on Twitter at @PatrickWall_NFL.

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