Philadelphia Eagles Need Colin Kaepernick
With a few options to replace Carson Wentz as QB, it’s Colin Kaepernick who can help the Eagles come playoff time.
Today, the Philadelphia Eagles confirmed that starting quarterback Carson Wentz has torn his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Wentz had been the presumptive MVP after guiding the Eagles to the top of the NFC. If the Eagles hope to remain contenders, they need help. The Eagles need Colin Kaepernick.
What do Jeff Hostetler, Kurt Warner, Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett, Doug Williams, Trent Dilfer, and Tom Brady all have in common? All were backup quarterbacks who won a Super Bowl. The 1972 Miami Dolphins went undefeated and backup Earl Morrall started 11 games. Teams always prefer to find their replacement quarterback on the roster. After all, no one knows the playbook or the personnel better.
A quick look at the Eagles depth chart yields two names: Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld. Most fans know the first while only diehard fans or direct family know Sudfeld. The Eagles are probably not winning a Super Bowl with Sudfeld at quarterback.
Foles is not the Answer
Foles could be a good option for the Eagles. Everyone remembers his 2013 run under Chip Kelly where he led the Eagles to the playoffs and a narrow loss to the Drew Brees-led Saints. The Eagles are better than they were then but relying on Foles will be asking to repeat history.
Foles is a backup quarterback for a reason. His magical run in 2013 was both an outlier and the product of being a backup in the first place. Opposing teams have no tape of an untested backup leading them to face less scrutiny than the starters whose tendencies can be charted and anticipated in a defense’s game plan. Foles has an 88 career passer rating, which classifies him as an average starting quarterback. Average can help the Eagles make it to the playoffs, but it will not bring them a Super Bowl.
The problem with Foles is that the Eagles are still a Super Bowl contender. Vegas dropped their odds to 14-1. Those odds are the same as the Falcons who were one play away from winning it last year. This Eagles team should be aiming to win it all and if the goal is the Super Bowl, the choice is clear. Enter Colin Kaepernick.
Carson Wentz might not look the part as a ginger-haired North Dakotan product, but he is among the most athletic quarterbacks in the league. Doug Pederson leverages that athleticism in many ways. One of the most obvious ways is on running plays.
It is no surprise to see Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Tyrod Taylor lead quarterbacks in rushing attempts but Wentz is fourth. That puts him ahead of known scramblers like DeShone Kizer, Dak Prescott, and Jacoby Brissett. His yards per carry are almost identical to Taylor’s.
Not much needs to be said of how Kaepernick compares to Foles in terms of scrambling ability. In 2016, Kaepernick led all qualified quarterbacks with 6.8 yards a carry and is a constant threat to break a big run. With him under center, the Eagles could keep any designed runs and he might improve their effectiveness.
The more important part of Wentz’ athleticism is his elusiveness. The highlight reel throw to Nelson Agholor against Washington was a perfect example of his mix of speed, strength, and balance. That is the type of play Kaepernick can make if given a shot. Anyone counting on Foles to escape the pocket and make throws downfield will be waiting for a long time.
The Eagles have set themselves up with a fairly high floor already. They clinched the division and a playoff spot. The worst thing that could happen is a first-round playoff exit. With one win against the combined liked of the Giants, Raiders, and Cowboys – not exactly a murderers’ row – the Eagles would at worst clinch a tie with the Saints for the second seed. If the Eagles beat either the Giants or Cowboys, they would have the better conference record and clinch their spot. In that case, the Eagles would need to win three games to win a championship.
Kaepernick has shown that he can take a team to a Super Bowl already. His running ability shredded defensive coordinator’s game plans. No other quarterback in the league can bust coverages the way he can with his legs.
With Kaepernick, the ceiling is the Super Bowl. Everyone knows that because it’s been seen. Foles is two years younger than Kaepernick but he has never guided a team past the first round of the playoffs. If Philly wants to win a title this year, the Eagles need Kaepernick.
The two main football-related concerns with Kaepernick have been his accuracy and decision-making. He can struggle to make complicated reads and had trouble fitting the ball into tight windows. Under Jim Harbaugh, he found success in a system that mixed power running, two tight end sets, and elements of a west coast offense. Doesn’t that sound a lot like the Eagles’ offense? Harbaugh incorporated a lot of what Andy Reid liked to run and talked about Bill Walsh’s influence when he was still coaching at Stanford. Reid was a Walsh disciple and Pederson has modeled his own offense off of his former boss.
The scheme and style of offense that the Eagles run should mitigate concerns about Kapernick’s decision-making and accuracy. The accuracy will always be a concern but by using short quick throws, an effective running game, and play-action passes, Kaepernick should have easy throws.
Kaepernick could dramatically improve the Eagles running game and make their option plays even more deadly. Coach Pederson was already simplifying the offense to cater to a young quarterback so keeping it simple for Kaepernick should not be a problem.
Without Wentz, the Eagles need someone under center that can generate an offensive spark for them. Foles is not that player. Consider how effective Michael Vick was when he first returned to the league with the Eagles.
Teams had not seen him nor had they had time to study his film. If the Eagles sign Kaepernick, they could wait to start him until Week 17 and keep the playoff plans under wraps. At worst, their opponents would have to game plan for two quarterbacks. Kaepernick’s athleticism would add a dimension to this team and keep them in the hunt for the Super Bowl.
Just ask the Green Bay Packers.