Sometimes in sports, things just click.
It can be in a good way, like a player finally grasping a system and excelling because of it. Or it can be in a bad way, where it becomes very clear that this player might just never get there.
On Thursday night, it appeared to finally click with Mike Kafka- and it wasn't in a good way,
When the Eagles take on the New England Patriots next week for their 2nd preseason game, Kafka very well might turn things around despite a now fractured left hand. The beauty of the presaeason is that a job can be won back almost as quick as it can be lost.
But watching him against the Steelers, it all of the sudden appeared to hit fans and media members all at once: Kafka just might not have it.
Yes, Kafka understands the Eagles offense. He has really since he arrived and has impressed coaches with his ability to be a quick learner. But guess what- the coaches understand the offense as well, but that doesn't mean they should go out there and play quarterback. Things were not just ugly for Kafka on Thursday, they were eye-openingly ugly. Lose your job ugly.
Questions about his arm strength have always been there, but it is the decision making he shows once he is in the game that is troubling. Kafka looks good at Lehigh, but once the lights at Lincoln Finacial Field go on, Kafka gets flustered. Why else would he throw a ball right into the gut of a Steelers lineman as he was being pulled down?
Watching Kafka and Nick Foles play, it just looked like 2 different caliber players. Some of the plays Foles made- like his long touchdown passes to Damaris Johnson and Mardy Gilyard- are plays we have not seen Kafka make. Foles showed more potential than Kafka ever has.
It was only 1 quarter of 1 preseason game, but to anyone watching, it sure felt like a lot more. In order to survive bad preseason outings as a player, teams have to be invested in you. Whether it be through money or high draft status, the team has to have a reason to say "Lets give this player more time." Kafka, a 4th round draft pick in 2010, does not have that. He is simply easier to move on from than a Jaiquawn Jarrett, who had an equally if not worse game than Kafka, but the Eagles are still invested in.
Which is why Kafka should be very worried.
It's not fair to say at this point that Foles is definitely a better option as back up quarterback than Kafka, but it certainly is not out of the question. Foles is also in his first year, meaning he will be allowed to make more mistakes than Kafka. He does not have to be as good as Kafka does to make the team. So the fact that he has been better so far looks bad for Kafka.
But the reality is that Kafka is not really competing against Nick Foles- he is competing against Trent Edwards for a roster spot.
Edwards, who despite looking awful at times during OTAs, has still accomplished way more in the NFL than Kafka has. The fact that more reps are going to go to Edwards now instead of Kafka because of his injury only helps Edwards show the coaches what he can do. Edwards may not be great, but he has started 33 games in the NFL, which is not something to just ignore. If the coaches had to pick either Edwards or Kafka to win 1 game right now, it's hard to imagine they would pick Kafka at this point. Edwards right now provides a better, veteran option as a backup.
The reality is that the momentum right now is against Kafka. For the first time, Kafka does not just have to be ok. He has to go out there and show something. Foles and Edwards have done that. It's Kafka's turn.
If he can't, the question will have to be raised- if Foles is the future, and Edwards is the veteran, than what does that make Kafka?
Kafka had better start hoping that when final cuts are made in Sepetember, it does not make him the one thing none of them want to be- the odd man out.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks