The Current Quarterback Situation, From A to Z

The Current Quarterback Situation, From A to Z

When the Eagles finally signed Trent Edwards last Thursday after a month-long courtship, there was a sense the depth chart had crystallized at the quarterback position. Edwards would battle third-year signal caller Mike Kafka for the back-up job behind an injury-prone Michael Vick, while Vince Young is allowed to depart a free agent, his services no longer required.

Then on Friday, the Eagles interviewed Robert Griffin III at the NFL Scouting Combine, and the whole town went crazy. Could the team move up in April's draft to select a Heisman Trophy-winning QB? Are they serious about bringing another arm into the mix? Isn't Andy Reid already pot committed to Vick, especially now that the organization is feeling a renewed sense of urgency? So many questions.

Presumably, VY is still out of the equation -- perhaps he would be a better fit on the hardwood, surrounded by Chuck and MJ. As for everyone else, and their relationships with the Birds: all bets are off.

Simply interviewing an exceptional prospect does not necessarily mean the front office intends to take that player, obviously. However, whatever the Eagles' level of interest in RG3, the sheer knowledge of their meeting may have changed everything. After the jump, we review the depth chart as it stands currently, and the impact this shocking development holds for the future under center.

Let's start with something that should have been evident right away. The addition of Trent Edwards did not automatically conclude the club's business with quarterbacks.

Chosen by the Bills out of Stanford in the third round of the '07 Draft, like many that came before him, Edwards could not single-handedly turn around that moribund franchise. He flashed some potential, but Buffalo's front office, in a seemingly constant state of flux, waived Edwards in the midst of his fourth season after he surrendered the starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Edwards spent the rest of the season with Jacksonville, then the following summer in Oakland's training camp. He didn't make the final roster, and spent a year out of football.

Key phrase here: spent a year out of football. There are a lot of things to like about a low-risk signing like Edwards. He's 28, has prototypical NFL size (6-4, 231), and went to a good school. He started 32 games for the Bills, amassing a 14-18 record, 60.9% completion percentage, and tossing 25 touchdowns to 27 interceptions -- not great, but respectable considering the situation.

Edwards strikes me as a player who suffered from inconsistent development in an ever-changing environment. In fact, the only thing that hasn't changed in Buffalo recently is the last time they made the playoffs. He isn't known for his arm strength, but Edwards is an intelligent guy, and given Reid's ability to turn a QB's fortunes, it makes for a nice off-season project for the Birds.

Again though, he just spent a year out of football. Cool, the team brought somebody in to compete, but let's not go guaranteeing Edwards a roster spot. The Eagles will have more options once free agency opens March 13. With his experience in the west coast offense, Jason Campbell could be a fit. Kyle Orton is a seasoned veteran. Hell, it will never happen, but Donovan McNabb would be a compelling choice to play behind Vick if you believe familiarity breeds success, and there's no rush to get something done there.

Of course, the draft isn't off the table, either.

So then why sign Edwards now? Well, it doesn't hurt to snag him early. They beat other potential suitors to the punch. Insurance in case they can't land the guy they want later. Then, finally, there is the simplest explanation, that being he is here to compete with Mike Kafka for a job... but which one?

It's far too early to say for certain, but Edwards's arrival might be an ominous sign for Kafka.

At first, the competition sounds innocent enough, a journeyman pushing the inexperienced prospect for his promotion, a battle which the incumbent is (hopefully) projected to win. Throw another candidate into the picture, one of the name free agents, or a relatively high draft pick, and suddenly you're not talking about Kafka playing for the back-up role. Instead, he's fighting for a roster spot.

If Edwards didn't preclude the Eagles from finding another QB, the RG3 interview may have only confirmed the suspicion they would like to. In his case, that's more an indictment of Vick than anybody else. After all, they aren't trading up in the first round of draft to add depth.

Speaking more broadly though, any other quarterback the team brings in going forward without subtracting another could signal the coaches have measured a ceiling for Kafka. A Campbell/Orton-type signing suggests they aren't quite comfortable with him at number two. Entering year three, maybe they never will. A selection made over the first couple days of the draft indicates they don't think Kafka will ever take over the reigns.

The latter doesn't have to reflect poorly on Kafka, either. Fourth-rounders often have their limits, and all the coaching up in the world can't make stars out of them all. Having seen him attempt 16 whole passes in meaningful football games, we really have no clue about his progress to this point.

Just saying, you can judge a lot by the movement of the front office. If they stop at adding Edwards, Mike Kafka may have some type of future in the NFL. If virtually anybody else you recognize is brought in, it's fair to speculate it might not work out for Kafka, at least not in Philadelphia.

Are the Eagles already feeling buyer's remorse over their deal with Vick?

We still don't expect management to make a sales pitch to Peyton Manning once the Colts finally release him from his contract, or search for any direct replacement for Vick in 2012 for that matter. His base salary of $12.5 million for this season is fully guaranteed, and for better or worse, Vick remains the best chance the club has of making a run this year.

Apparently, beyond 2012 is another story.

When it was first revealed the Eagles had interviewed Griffin, we took it with a grain of salt, chalking it up to management doing their due diligence. RG3 is the consensus second-highest rated QB in the draft behind Andrew Luck, and with the Rams interested in moving out of the second overall pick, there is a better than 50% shot somebody would want to trade into their spot. The Browns at four and Redskins at six are in prime position to leap up a few spots. The Birds select 15th.

Is it possible for them to get as high as two? Yeah, it's possible. It's also very, very expensive. Initial estimates have the Eagles giving up this year's first, second, and third rounders, as well as a first in 2013. Whoa.

Yet even given the outrageous cost, the front office has themselves in a position to at least hold the conversation. As of right now,
they already own an additional second-round pick this year, as well as a second fourth, and could receive more decent choices if they part with Asante Samuel and/or DeSean Jackson in a trade. The firepower is there, with the only hang-up being whether St. Louis would want to move all the way back to 15 if one of the other teams has a similar offer on the table.

Meanwhile, Vick isn't getting any younger. He'll be 32 once the season starts, he hasn't been able to stay healthy, and last season, he did not show signs of growing into the quarterback who could dissect defenses with his mind as easily as he can with his left arm and his legs. What's more, the vast majority of the guaranteed money on the "six-year, $100 million contract" he signed in August will have been paid, so the Eagles could be free as soon as next season if they feel inclined.

But RG3 to Philly? It's fun to think about, however, open to scrutiny. Can they claim they are going for broke this season, then trade half their draft and mortgage the future for a quarterback who won't play this year? Well, when you scan their roster, their only glaring hole is at linebacker, and they would still have free agency and a pick or two to address that need. Does having a young QB to develop buy Andy Reid even more time if they falter again in 2013? Not sure about that one, but he's not the only man in the world who can groom a star passer.

Then there is always the hint Mike Vick is gonna turn things around. Even after a poor season, the Eagles were 7-4 last season in games he started and finished -- 7-3 if you remove the game against the Cardinals where he dealt with broken ribs. His health will always be of some concern, but behind an improving offensive line, if he can make his reads just a little bit faster, throw a few more balls away, and get down or out of bounds before taking so many big hits, who knows, maybe he could survive for a full year, and play at a Pro-Bowl level once more.

Yet after much deliberation, we must concede there is a legitimate interest for the Eagles' part, even if it's bolstered by secondary reasoning. Maybe they don't wish to tip their hand on another free agent or rookie QB, or they are just trying to drive up the cost for the Redskins, engaged in a cunning plot to bury Washington at the bottom of the division by having them send a never-ending array of high draft picks away for single players at a time. But ultimately, how could they not be interested in Griffin?

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles vs. Vikings
1 p.m. on FOX

Eagles +3

A familiar face comes to town on Sunday when the Eagles host the Vikings, the NFL's last unbeaten team at 5-0.

There's more to this matchup than a certain jilted quarterback returning to Lincoln Financial Field though. After an inspired 3-0 start, the Eagles have come out flat in two consecutive games, both losses. If this squad has any hope of getting back on track in Week 7, they can't afford to focus on the high-profile former teammate in purple sleeves.

Grinding it out
How good is the Vikings' defense? Even though they're ranked fourth in the league against the run and eighth in yards per carry allowed, they've faced the second-highest number of rushing attempts. Simply put, between a fierce pass-rush and ball-hawking secondary, offenses are afraid to put the ball in the air against this team.

Opponents have decided the best way to beat the Minnesota defense is by keeping the ball on the ground — shorten the game, try to create manageable third downs and play the field position game. Of course, the best way for the Eagles to beat Washington's 28th-ranked run defense last week, with a fifth-round rookie right tackle making his first career start mind you, also would've been to hand the ball off early and often, which wasn't exactly the game plan that we saw.

As good as Carson Wentz is, the Eagles probably aren't going to beat this team by airing the ball out. It may be inefficient and look ugly, but this time, head coach Doug Pederson needs to lean on the ground attack and take the pressure off of his first-year quarterback and tackle. Otherwise, a Vikings defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks and fourth in interceptions can take this game over.

Self-inflicted wounds
Ticky-tack calls or not, you can't blame the judgment of the officials for all of the penalties the Eagles have taken the past two weeks. Last week in Washington, they drew 13 flags for 114 yards. The week before, it was 14 flags for 111 yards. Is it really any coincidence in two losses the Eagles have been penalized 27 times for 225 yards? Unlikely.

Were one or two or even a handful of those calls excessive? Have officials missed some potential calls that could have gone the other way? Yes and yes, as is always the case. When it's that many penalties for that many yards though, you can only place so much blame on the refs.

Simply put, the players need to clean up their acts. According to, the Eagles are committing the most penalties per game at 9.8. Only one other team is above 9.0. All excuses aside, the Eagles lack discipline right now, and it's hard to beat anybody when they are continuously shooting themselves in the foot, let alone the only undefeated squad in football.

No gimmes
There is no bigger indicator of winning and losing in the NFL than turnovers. So what happens when the two teams who cough the ball up the least are going head-to-head?

One thing the Eagles did correct in Washington was the little giveaway problem that cost them the game in Detroit. After losing their first fumble and throwing their first interception of the season in the final three minutes of their loss at Detroit, the offense went back to playing turnover-free football on Sunday, one of the positive things that could be said for the performance.

Yet the only team that's committed fewer turnovers than the Eagles is the Vikings, who have just one through five games. The ball security these clubs have displayed is remarkable bordering on unheard of. So what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? The first one to blink, or in this case make a mistake, might just cost themselves the game in what could be a tightly contested tilt.

Just a pit stop
If it feels like the Eagles' 34-3 romp of the Steelers at the Linc was a long time ago, well, it has been almost a month. Since then, there's been a bye week followed by trips to Detroit and Washington, putting the last home game at exactly four weeks ago.

Don't get used to the feeling either. After their game against the Vikings on Sunday, the Eagles go back on the road for two contests against the division rival Cowboys and Giants.

What does it all mean? Besides a travel-heavy stretch, it suggests this sandwich game with the Vikings is an especially significant spot on the Eagles' schedule, particularly given the slow starts they've jumped out to as the visiting team of late. That can't be blamed entirely on going on the road of course, but it certainly hasn't helped. Vikings or not, the Eagles could use a positive showing on Sunday before they go away again.

The Bradford Bowl
You didn't really think we were going to completely gloss over Sam Bradford, did you? Not even mention his name?

It's interesting, because right now, the trade that sent Bradford to the Vikings and cleared the way for Wentz to start at quarterback for the Eagles looks like a win-win. Both head coaches agreed with that sentiment as well. Mike Zimmer says Bradford gave the Vikings an energy back after starter Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with an improbable injury, while despite coming back down to earth a bit the last two weeks, it's obvious the Eagles' future is bright with Wentz.

That being said, there are some additional bragging rights at stake for both signal-callers this week, whether they acknowledge it or not. If the Eagles win, it shows their gamble on Wentz being prepared to start right away was justified. If the Vikings win, pundits could argue the Eagles never should've traded Bradford in the first place.

These are only narratives of course, and the Eagles' investment in Wentz and the Vikings' desperation trade for Bradford are both left to be judged somewhere down the road, long after this game has been played. Nonetheless, the result on Sunday is sure to spark some interesting debate in the coming days.

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21


STATE COLLEGE – As his team slogged through back-to-back 7-6 seasons in his first two years as Penn State’s head coach, Langhorne native James Franklin heard time and again that he was in need of a signature victory.

Now he has one, even if he refuses to admit it.

Junior cornerback Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:27 left as the Nittany Lions stunned second-ranked Ohio State 24-21 on Saturday night.

“That’s for you (media) guys, all that signature stuff,” Franklin said.

Not exactly.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map,” Haley said. “We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight.”

The fans stormed the field after the Lions, 5-2 after their third straight victory this season, beat a ranked team for the first time since 2013 (Wisconsin). It was also PSU’s first victory over a team ranked in the top five since 1999 (Arizona) and its first over a team slotted as high as No. 2 since 1990 (Notre Dame).

Ohio State (7-1) saw winning streaks of 20 straight road games and 17 straight Big Ten road games come to an end, despite building a 21-7 lead through three quarters.

The Lions whisked 90 yards in five plays to cut the gap to seven with 13:32 left in the game, with quarterback Trace McSorley running two yards for the TD.

Freshman linebacker Cam Brown then blocked Cameron Johnston’s punt to set up a 34-yard field goal by Tyler Davis with 9:33 remaining, making it 21-17.

Ohio State mounted a drive behind J.T. Barrett, their splendid quarterback, moving from its own 13 to the PSU 28. Barrett’s 34-yard connection with wide receiver Noah Brown was the big play.

But the Buckeyes stalled, and Tyler Durbin came on to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Penn State safety Marcus Allen made a leaping block, however, and Haley scooped up the bouncing ball and beat Durbin and Johnston, the holder, down the left sideline for the go-ahead score.

Ohio State’s final drive of the night ended with a pair of Penn State sacks, the last a combined effort by defensive linemen Kevin Givens and Evan Schwan with 1:02 left.

When the final gun sounded, several Penn State players sprinted toward the south end zone and launched themselves into the front row of the stands, Lambeau Leap-style, among the delirious students. And thousands of fans, all clad in white for PSU’s traditional White Out, flooded the field.

“This is for everybody,” Franklin said later. “This community’s been through so much in the last five years (a reference to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and its aftermath), and this is a big step in the right direction, in terms of healing. I said very, very early on that for us to get where we want to be, we need this entire community together, and a win like tonight – I know I’m biased – but I believe that football has the ability to bring a community together like nothing else.”

Moments later, he caught himself and said he “didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the big picture.”

Rather, he added, “I just want to enjoy tonight.”