The Philadelphia Eagles know that the chances of Michael Vick playing 16 games and beyond this year are doubtful. So while Eagles fans like myself hope against hope that Vick won't get taken out again at some point, we also have to hope against hope that Philadelphia has a capable backup too. Last year, all the Birds had was Vince Young and that hardly worked out, while they have three backups jockeying for position this preseason.
Yet it was the backups who did all the damage against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Aug. 9 preseason opener. After Vick's hand naturally got injured, Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards and Nick Foles had their chances to get ahead in the race for No. 2. Kafka remains a favorite, yet Edwards and especially Foles got things moving in the second half to fuel a 24-23 comeback win.
Foles is now on the Eagles' radar, although he is the lesser known of the backups by far. Kafka memorably filled in for Vick early in 2011 before Young was ready, while Edwards was an actual starter for the Buffalo Bills for a time. However, Foles threw two quick touchdowns in the third quarter last week to get the Eagles on the scoreboard and fuel their rally.
Given how badly the Eagles and their starters played in the first half against the Steelers, it was relieving to have anyone get them moving. Once Foles did his part, Edwards took over in the fourth and finished the job. They certainly did better than Kafka, who gave the Eagles their first offensive production of the night in the second quarter, but then threw a pick that led to three more Steelers points.
Kafka is the only one who's had any regular season action in an Eagles uniform, so the No. 2 position is still his to lose. But Philadelphia has to keep its options open, since this could be the most important decision it makes this year. If there's no one out there to sign up if/when Vick goes down, then Kafka, Edwards or Foles could have the entire season put on their backs with one bad hit.
The Eagles counted on Young to fill in for Vick last year, but all he did was curse them with his "Dream Team" talk and come up short in midseason. So this team knows full well what choosing a poor backup quarterback can do - and should know how necessary it may be to make the right choice this time.
Of course, this would all be moot if Vick would actually last a full season and not get his hands or legs banged up. However, the Eagles can't pin their hopes on that fantasy scenario - even if it is a bigger fantasy to win with someone other than Vick in charge. But being fully prepared and ready to make two fantasies come true is better than just one.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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